Center for Humanities and Health Sciences

The UCSF Center for Humanities and Health Sciences supports projects with a mission to enhance our understanding of the human response to disease and suffering, deepen the interpretive skills of health professionals, situate medicine in its broader social and cultural context, and improve the delivery of health care.

The Center has focused support for an intercampus “Medical Humanities Initiative” that provides an interdisciplinary approach to investigating and understanding the profound effects of illness and disease on patients, health professionals, and the social worlds in which they live and work. Our public forums, small group seminars and sponsored research projects encourage students and faculty to explore how experiences of life between health and illness are expressed, rationalized, and given meaning. Reflecting the richness and complexities of the cultures that inform humanity’s ideas and beliefs, the medical humanities embrace multiple perspectives drawn from personal reflection and scholarly pursuit. Whether through art, poetry, history, music or anthropology, the field of Medical Humanities cultivates creative communication skills and enriches the understanding of the art and science of medicine at a deeply personal level.

Annual Research Colloquia in Medical Anthropology and History of Modern Biomedicine The Annual Colloquia Series is further supported by private endowment funds in the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine and is organized by faculty and graduate students. Scholars working in the anthropology and modern history of the basic and translational life-sciences in medicine and clinical practice are invited to engage in intellectual exchanges with researchers and practitioners within the health sciences and commercial industry of biomedicine. The format for debate situates an historical presentation together with an analytical/critical review from a basic, translational or clinical scientists. Audiences are drawn from interdisciplinary fields from the humanities and academic medicine and bio-science and technology facilitating a uniquely creative and boundary-dissolving intellectual environment. Recent visitors have included Margaret Lock, Jean Commaroff, Vin Kim, Stacey Pigg, Marilyn Strathern, John Lesch, Trevor Pinch, Keith Wailoo, Nancy Tomes, Ruth Cowan, Charlotte Borst among others.

Student Research Funding The Center for Humanities and Health Sciences also provides small competitive funding grants for student research projects in the humanities undertaken by graduate and medical students including financial support for attendance of the Summer Research programs held at UCHRI and intercampus pedagogical summer workshops in Science & Technology Studies.

Dorothy Porter, PhD
Professor, Department of Anthropology, History & Social Medicine

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