The Center

The Center for History Of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis is focused on how progress in medicine and science has taken place. Three principal goals are:

  1. to better educate future generations of physicians, scientists and scholars
  2. to add a historical perspective on the evolution of clinical and basic science knowledge
  3. to highlight the groundbreaking discoveries made at the School of Medicine.

Knowledge of the history of medicine enhances the school’s exceptional training of outstanding physicians and scientists by addressing:

  • the responses of doctors and patients over time to pain, suffering and illness;
  • the nature of scientific discovery;
  • the evolution of medical professions;
  • the place of medicine in society; and
  • the social, cultural, political and economic forces that shaped medicine and medical institutions.

Many students at the School of Medicine have interests in the history of medicine, and many faculty members are active scholars in the discipline. The Archives and Rare Books at Bernard Becker Medical Library has more than 30,000 rare/unique volumes and documents. It is one of the best rare book collections in the world. The Center will actively engage faculty, trainees, students and other interested individuals in exploring collections, teaching and new scholarship.

The Center collaborates with the Institute for Public Health at Washington University to augment the School of Medicine’s leading role in preventing illness and promoting health care delivery. It also is broadly engaged with faculty in all other schools and campuses of Washington University in St. Louis.