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'Medical History' editorial milestone

Posted on 20 December 2016

Five year anniversary for Centre for Global Health Histories

Five years ago the editorial office for the open access journal Medical History moved to the Centre for Global Health Histories. Owned by Cambridge University Press (CUP) and supported by the Wellcome Trust, the journal is a flagship publication in the history of medicine and related humanities studies, and driven by a commitment to open access.

As the journal has developed, emphasis has been placed on increasing internationalisation. The editors have sought to find the best scholarship from regional and global networks of academics working in the medical humanities, in order to foster positive co-operation between academic institutions, policy-makers and implementers. The important connections that have developed because of Medical History are reflective of the Wellcome Trust, CUP and editors’ desires to enrich international relations between academic and non-academic participants in the conversation about global health and medicine.  

Over the years Medical History has featured a number of issues and articles of unique value to the medical humanities community including:

  • In 2012 the journal published a significant article from Prof Vivan Nutton, ‘Vesalius Revised: His Annotations to the 1555 Fabrica,” which shared information about some extraordinary discoveries made, which will shape the way historians of Renaissance medicine understand anatomists and different medical professions of the time.
  • In 2015 Medical History demonstrated a commitment to keeping up with new possibilities in the digital humanities by publishing a special ‘virtual’ issue. Drawing on research by Dr Henrice Altink, the issue ‘From the Local to the Global: Fifty Years of Historical Research on Tuberculosis’ constituted a series of landmark articles about the disease from specialists around the world.
  • A number of special issues have contained exciting and innovative material, including ‘Skill in the History of Medicine and Science,’ ‘New Directions and Challenges in Histories of Health, Healing and Medicine in South Africa’, and recently a much-needed spotlight on neurological and mental health in ‘Soul Catchers: The Material Culture of the Mind Sciences'.

In recent years the support from CUP and Wellcome has allowed Medical History to host the William Bynum Prize essay competition, awarded annually to the author of an original essay on any theme relating to the history of medicine and its related sciences. The Prize’s awarding committee is chaired by Professor Bynum himself, supported by the editor and members of the editorial advisory board of Medical History.  

Complementing this annual prize, the support given to Medical History has allowed for the annual William Bynum Lectures, the most recent of which was held at the Royal Society of Medicine and supported by Cambridge University Press and the Centre for Global Health Histories. The 2016 lecture was delivered by Dr Chris Renwick, and focused on his research project Biology, Social Science, and History: Past, Present, and Future Interactions. These lectures are open to the public, and feature extraordinary research from the medical history community, presented in an open and engaging format for a broad audience.

Medical History also recently launched a new website, reflecting ongoing efforts to make the content as accessible as possible to a broad international audience. Medical History is committed to open access publication, in a manner which maximises the accessibility of articles while securing a sustainable future for the journal. Open access publishing is a particular priority for the Wellcome Trust, who believe that it is “the most effective way of ensuring that the research we fund can be accessed, read and built upon. In turn this will foster a richer research culture.” You can read about the Wellcome Trust’s work on open access availability on their website.


Medical History is associated with the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health, the Asian Society for the History of Medicine, and the World Health Organization's Global Health Histories initiative, and generously supported by Cambridge University Press and the Wellcome Trust. This suport will ensure the publication's future at the Centre for Global Health Histories.