Frank W. Stahnisch

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Frank W. Stahnisch is a historian of medicine and neuroscience at the University of Calgary in Canada,[1] where he holds the endowed Alberta Medical Foundation/Hannah Professorship in the History of Medicine and Health Care.[2] He is jointly appointed in the Department of History, Faculty of Arts,[3] and the Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine,[4] and is a member of the Calgary Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the O'Brien Institute for Public Health. His research interests in the history and philosophy of the biomedical sciences cover: the development of modern physiology and experimental medicine, the history of neuroscience and the history of psychiatry, as well as the development of modern medical visualization practices.[5] Since 2015, he has succeeded Professor Malcolm Macmillan (University of Melbourne, Australia) as an Editor-in-Chief of the international "Journal of the History of the Neurosciences" (with Taylor & Francis - Routledge Group).[6]

Education and Training[edit]

Born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Stahnisch entered the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt in 1990, where he commenced his undergraduate studies in medicine, philosophy, psychology and sociology. Continuing his studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin, the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the Université de Rennes I in France, he received his Master of Science degree in Philosophy of Science from the University of Edinburgh and his Doctorate degree in History of Medicine from the Free University of Berlin. Following to teaching positions held at the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuernberg and the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, he became a two-year Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal. Further Visiting Professorships included the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, the Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine at the Ruprecht Karls University in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Office for History of Science and Technology at the University of California at Berkeley, USA. In 2008, Stahnisch was appointed to the faculty of the University of Calgary in the rank of an Associate Professor, where he chairs the inter-Faculty and inter-departmental History of Medicine and Health Care program and acts as co-coordinator (History) of the Calgary History and Philosophy of Science Program. In 2015, he also became a Research Fellow of the Calgary Centre for Military and Strategic Studies (CMSS).

Work in the History of Medicine and Neuroscience[edit]

His doctoral dissertation, which was supervised by Volker Hess at the Institute for the History of Medicine at the Free University of Berlin, was a history of laboratory practices in early 19th century French experimental physiology, an analysis of "Ideas in action: The notion of function and its methodological role in the research program of the experimental physiologist François Magendie (1783-1855)". It became subsequently published with LIT Press in Muenster, Hamburg, London in 2003, being one of the first specialized works in German language on experimental practices in modern medical research laboratories.

Stahnisch's historiographical work has won several awards and prizes, including a Feodor Lynen Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany), the John J. Pisano Award of the National Institutes of Health (USA), and the H. Richard Tyler Award of the American Academy of Neurology (USA). In 2009, he received the inaugural Klaus Reichert Prize for Medical Philosophy through the Aspects of Medical Philosophy Series and the Literary Society of Karlsruhe (Germany). From 2010 to 2011, he was President of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and co-organized the first joint meeting of ISHN and Cheiron (The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences) at the University of Calgary and the Banff Centre for the Arts (June, 2011) in Alberta (Canada). In 2012, Stahnisch was awarded the inaugural Mary Louise Nickerson Fellowship in Neuro-History by the Osler Library of the History of Medicine at McGill University (Canada).

His research has been funded, among other international agencies, by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), The Gerda Henkel Foundation, Associated Medical Services (AMS), Social Sciences Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Books (selection)[edit]

  • Medicine, Life and Function - Experimental Strategies and Medical Modernity at the Intersection of Pathology and Physiology (Series: Aspects of Medical Philosophy, Vol. 11., ed. by C. Hoffstadt et al.). Bochum, Freiburg: Projektverlag 2012
  • Ideas in Action: Der Funktionsbegriff und seine methodologische Rolle im Forschungsprogramm des Experimentalphysiologen François Magendie (1783-1855) (Series: Naturwissenschaft – Philosophie – Geschichte, Vol. 18., ed. by P. Hucklenbroich). Muenster, Hamburg, London: LIT-Press 2003 (manuscript shortlisted for the 2002 Foerderpreis der Deutschen Gesellschaft fuer Geschichte der Medizin, Naturwissenschaft und Technik e.V.)
  • (with Dorothy Porter, eds.): Boundary Work and Trading Zones in the History of Medicine and Medical Humanities. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press 2015
  • (with Thomas Hoffmann, eds.): Kurt Goldstein - Der Aufbau des Organismus. Einfuehrung in die Biologie unter besonderer Beruecksichtigung der Erfahrungen am kranken Menschen. Munich, Paderborn: Fink Verlag 2014
  • (with Sylwia Werner, Claus Zittel, eds.): Ludwik Fleck - Denkstile und Tatsachen: Gesammelte Schriften und Zeugnisse. Berlin: Suhrkamp 2011
  • (with Heijko Bauer, eds.): Bild und Gestalt: Wie formen Medienpraktiken das Wissen in Medizin und Humanwissenschaften? (Series: Medizin und Gesellschaft, Vol. 13., ed. by U. Weisser). Muenster, Hamburg, London: LIT-Press 2007
  • (with Ulrich Schoenherr, Antonio Bergua, eds.): Albert Neissers (1855-1916) ,Stereoscopischer Medicinischer Atlas’ – Eine aussergewoehnliche fotografische Sammlung aus dem Gebiet der Augenheilkunde. Wuerzburg: Koenigshausen & Neumann 2006
  • (with Florian Steger, eds.): Medizin, Geschichte und Geschlecht. Koerperhistorische Rekonstruktionen von Identitaeten und Differenzen (Series: History and Philosophy of Medicine, Vol. 1., ed. by A. Frewer). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner 2005

Peer Reviewed Articles (selection)[edit]

  • The Early Eugenics Movement and Emerging Professional Psychiatry: Conceptual Transfers and Personal Relationships between Germany and North America. In: Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 30 (2014), pp. 17–40
  • The emergence of Nervennahrung: Nerves, mind and metabolism in the long eighteenth century. In: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (2012), pp. 405–417
  • (with Peter J. Koehler): Three 20th Century Multi-Authored Handbooks Serving as Vital Catalyzers of an Emerging Specialization - A Case Study from the History of Neurology and Psychiatry. In: The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 200 (2012), pp. 1067–1075
  • The Tertium Comparationis of the Elementa Physiologiae - Johann Gottfried von Herder's Conception of 'Tears' as Mediators between the Sublime and the Actual Bodily Physiology. In: Blood, Sweat and Tears - The Changing Concepts of Physiology from Antiquity into Early Modern Europe. Eds. Manfred Horstmanshoff, Helen King, and Claus Zittel (Intersections - Interdisciplinary Studies in Early Modern Culture, Vol. 25), Brill: Leiden, Boston, MA 2012, pp. 595–626
  • German-Speaking Emigre Neuroscientists in North America after 1933: Critical Reflections on Emigration-Induced Scientific Change. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften 21 (2010), pp. 36–68
  • The Human Nervous System – A Clavichord? On the Use of Musical Metaphors in Modern Neurology. In: Neurology of Music. Ed. Frank Clifford Rose, Imperial College Press: London 2010, pp. 73–102
  • The Use of Animal Experimentation in the History of Neurology. In: History of Neurology. Eds., Stanley Finger, François Boller, and Kenneth L. Tyler (Handbook of Clinical Neurology, Vol. 95, 3rd Series), Elsevier B.V.: Edinburgh, Amsterdam 2009, pp. 129–148
  • Transforming the Lab: Technological and Societal Concerns in the Pursuit of De- and Regeneration in the German Morphological Neurosciences, 1910-1930. In: Medicine Studies. An International Journal for History, Philosophy, and Ethics of Medicine & Allied Sciences 1 (2009), pp. 41–54
  • Ludwig Edinger (1855-1918) – Pioneer in Neurology. In: Journal of Neurology 255 (2008), pp. 147–148
  • Instrument Transfer as Knowledge Transfer in Neurophysiology: François Magendie's (1783-1855) Early Attempts to Measure Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure. In: Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 17 (2008), pp. 72–99
  • Gehirn, Genom und Geschichte - Wissenschaftshistorische und medizinethische Aspekte der Flexibilisierung des Personkonzepts in den Neurowissenschaften des 20. Jahrhunderts. In: Dimensionen der Person: Genom und Gehirn. Ed., Dietmar Huebner, Mentis: Paderborn 2006, pp. 151–178
  • Historical and Philosophical Perspectives on Experimental Practice in Medicine and the Life Sciences. In: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 26 (2005), pp. 397–425
  • "Die Photographie als Huelfsmittel mikroskopischer Forschung?" Joseph von Gerlach (1820-1896) und die fruehen anatomischen Mikrophotographen. In: Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte 28 (2005), pp. 135–150
  • Den Hunger standardisieren: François Magendies Fuetterungsversuche zur Gelatinekost 1831-1841. In: Medizinhistorisches Journal. Medicine and the Life Sciences in History 39 (2004), pp. 103–134
  • Making the Brain Plastic: Early Neuroanatomical Staining Techniques and the Pursuit of Structural Plasticity, 1910-1970. In: Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 12 (2003), pp. 413–435
  • (with Robert Nitsch): Santiago Ramón y Cajal's concept of neuronal plasticity: the ambiguity lives on. In: Trends in Neurosciences 25 (2002), pp. 589–591


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