Professor Dorothy Porter

Professor in History of the Health Sciences, University of California

(Elected 2015)

Professor Porter is a distinguished historian of medicine and a former head of the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck.

Now Professor in History of the Health Sciences at the University of California, Professor Porter was based at Birkbeck for much of her career and was active on major College Boards. She has published widely in academic journals in history, literary studies and in medical journals including the BMJ and The Lancet.

Professor Porter obtained her first degree from the University of Sussex and her doctorate from University College London. After residencies in American universities including UCLA and Harvard, she joined Birkbeck in 1991, becoming Wellcome Reader in the History of Medicine and then Professor in the History of Science and Medicine in 1998.

While at Birkbeck her numerous internationally renowned academic publications included the influential monograph, Health, Civilisation and the State. A History of Public Health from Ancient to Modern Times. In addition she edited many volumes on the history of social medicine, medical ethics, public health and the politics of medicine. Most recently she published a history of Health Citizenship: Essays on Social Medicine and Bio-medical Politics and jointly edited a volume in 2015 with Frank Stahnisch on Boundary Work and Trading Zones in the History of Medicine and Medical Humanities. Western Humanities Review, Volume LXXI, No 3 Fall 2015.

Professor Porter has been active in many debates within clinical medicine and public health, making a great many radio and television appearances as well as keynote lectures to scientific bodies. Currently she is writing a book entitled Tremor. A History of Parkinson’s Disease.

Professor Porter retains close ties to Birkbeck through regular visits and seminar presentations and co-organising of conferences. She continues to advocate for Birkbeck with the Wellcome Trust and other bodies.