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Dr Caitjan Gainty

Lecturer in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine


Twitter Handle: @therealcaitjan

I am a historian of twentieth century medicine and technology, particularly

interested in the systematisation of medicine and health care. I received my PhD in

History from the University of Chicago in 2012 after a brief stint working in public

health, health care and bioethics research in a variety of American hospitals. This

early career work was formative, and continues to influence my historical research

agenda; it is not unusual for me to focus on projects that, while historically rich and

significant in their own right, also offer a new lens through which to encounter

contemporary health care questions.

My first book presents a history of early twentieth century American medicine as steeped in industrial practices and mores. In particular, it weaves medicine back into the seismic historical shifts in production and consumption which took place over this period, and it ultimately proposes that, like so many Model T’s standardized for ease and speed of assembly and dissemination across the country, medicine’s current products, the care and cure we so strongly associate with medicine today, came about not because they reflected the discovery of medicine as a moral agent charged with protecting the sanctity of human health, but because they were values that lent themselves to easy production and distribution. While this book enters into discussions concerning health care policy and the politics of ‘Medicare for All’ as universal health care has been called in the United States, my current project, ‘Healthy Scepticism’ examines the role of scepticism in medical knowledge making processes, from its position as a methodological stance among medical and scientific communities meant to further knowledge in the clinic and lab to its role as a marker of distrust for medical and scientific authority. The project is intended to be public-looking and publicly engaged, and I invite interested potential collaborators to be in touch.

I also have interests in medical films and filmmaking in the 20th century, television and other medical media, medical aesthetics, and I am interested in the recent history of telemedicine and the more general significance of medical technologies and instrumentation over the recent past and present. My teaching interests range a bit more broadly, and in addition to modules in the history of medicine, I also have taught in the areas of modern environmental history, the history of the body, science and technology in the Cold War, world history and, increasingly, in the history of work and productivity.

Research Projects:


Healthy Scepticism (2019-2020)

twitter: @healthy_scept


Healthy Scepticism is a Wellcome Trust funded project that aims, for this era of fake news, to examine and find sense in the doubt, cynicism, suspicion, and distrust in and around medical practice from the mid-20th century to the present. The project forms an initial scoping step, which seeks to lay the groundwork for larger and more focused work in this area via a combination of archival research, interdisciplinary workshops and public engagement. The project seeks to understand what medical sceptics past and present, in individual encounters and in public disavowals of medicine, have expressed in their refusals to comply with conventional medical and public health views. It hopes to shed new light not only on the position of medicine in our uniquely sceptical contemporary as well as offering critical perspective on the position – the health – of scepticism itself as a form of critical engagement.


The Person in Medicine (with Neil Vickers, Patrick Ffrench and others) (2019-2020)


This project is aimed to establish a cross-disciplinary collaboration with French colleagues – with their already ongoing project la personne en médicine on the theme of personhood in the era of personalised medicine and long-term conditions.


Neurology on Film (with Nikolas Rose) (2016-2017)



This project was funded initially by a King’s Faculty Research fund project, looking at the filmmaking practices of early-to mid-twentieth century neurologists. It explore the ways in which the advent of the motion picture camera created new significances, new meaning for neurology and its patients, with an eye toward what this example can tell us about how we might read films as important for medicine more generally. The particular activities of the grant culminated in a multidisciplinary workshop held at the Wellcome in May 2017 and a short publication written in conjunction with Nikolas Rose, for the clinical medical journal, Advances in Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation. It also led to productive partnerhships with clinical neurology colleagues at UCL, with whom we have continued and expanded the conversation along more informal channels. Our website introduces the work of the project and offers an overview of the activities of the workshop as well.


Postgraduate Supervision:

Current Students:

Grazia de Michele (University of Genoa), History of Breast cancer Activism in the United States

Victoria Hitchens, History of Neurological Image-making


Past Students:

Agnes Arnold-Forster (2nd supervisor)


Recent Publications:

Caitjan Gainty, ‘“A Bit of Hollywood in the Operating Room”’ Online essay for the U.S. National Library of Medicine “Medicine on Screen” July 2019.


Caitjan Gainty, “Why Wait?” Modern American History 2019 2(2): 249-255.


Caitjan Gainty, “A Historical View on Health Care: A New View on Austerity?” Health Care Analysis 2019 27(3): 220-230.


Jesse Olszynko-Gryn, Patrick Ellis, and Caitjan Gainty, eds. “Reproduction on Film,” Special Issue British Journal for the History of Science 2017 50(3).

Caitjan Gainty, “‘Items for criticism (not in sequence)’: Joseph DeLee, Pare Lorentz and The Fight for Life (1940)” British Journal for the History of Science 2017 50(3): 429-449.


Caitjan Gainty, “The Autobiographical Shoulder of Ernest Amory Codman: Crafting Medical Meaning in the 20th Century.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 2016 90: 394-423.


Geoffrey Rees, Caitjan Gainty and Daniel Brauner, “Never a Simple Choice: Claude S. Beck and the Definitional Surplus in Decision Making about CPR” Medicine Studies 2014 4(1-4): 91-101.


Nikolas Rose and Caitjan Gainty, “Neurovisions” Advances in Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation 2019 18(2): 17-18.


Allen Short, Lydia Drumright, Catherine Noakes, Andrew Woods, Caitjan Gainty, Kathryn Schoefert, and L Tantardini, “Excising Infection in the Surgical Environment' [ExISE]” Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England 2018 100(1): 26-9.


Caitjan Gainty, “Mr. Gilbreth’s Motion Pictures - The Evolution of Medical Efficiency” New England Journal of Medicine 2016 374(2): 109-111.



Recent Grants, Awards, and Prizes:

Principal Investigator, “Healthy Scepticism” Small Grant in Humanities and Social Science, Wellcome Trust, 2019-2020.


Joint Principal Investigator, “The Person in Medicine” King’s Together Interdisciplinary Research Scheme, King’s College, London, 2019-2020.


Co-Investigator, “Excising Infection in the Surgical Environment [ExISE]” with PI Alan Short (Cambridge) and Co-I’s Lydia Drumright (Cambridge), Catherine Noakes (Leeds), Andrew Woods (Cambridge), Jean-Michel Massing (Cambridge), Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2017.


Joint Principal Investigator, “NHS Going Digital” (with Joint PI Jackie Sturt and Collaborators Frances Griffiths, Tanya Graham, Federica Lucivero, Zarnie Khadjesari and Bithaj Ajana), King’s College, London, King’s Together Award, 2017.


Co-Investigator “Neurology on Film” (with PI Nikolas Rose), King’s College, London Faculty Research Fund. 2016/17.


Principal Investigator, “Designing Health: The Making of Modern Medical Space,” Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Small Grant, 2016.



Upcoming Events:


Two workshops be tied to the Healthy Scepticism project, all to take place Spring/Summer 2020.


Exhibition and Roundtable Healthy Scepticism, Summer 2020.


“Professions of Medicine (1970): Eliot Freidson, the ‘professional’ and the anti-medical milieu” Solitudes/Multitudes conference, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 24-25 April, 2020.


“Health Sceptics at Mid-Century”, Manchester Seminar in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology. University of Manchester, 24 March, 2020.



Past Events:


“Anti-Vaxxers and Other Sceptics” John Lyon School, London, 2 December 2019. (Seminar/Conference Presentation)


“Healthy Scepticism,” King’s College, London Seminar in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. King’s College, London, 20 November 2019.


“Dissecting Diegelman (1945): Film, Medicine and the Cinematic Oeuvre of Kurt Goldstein.” Oxford Seminar in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology. University of Oxford, 4 November 2019.


“Neurovisions: A Workshop and Screening” King’s College, London, 1 May 2018. (Workshop)

Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Science Museum 27 April 2018. (Panel discussion)

“Reproduction on film” University of Cambridge, 23-25 September 2015. (Conference)

Recent Engagement Activities:

Caitjan Gainty, “A Note on Universal Access” Washington Post, 19 August 2019.

Caitjan Gainty and Grazia de Michele, “The Disease of At Risk” BMJ Opinions. 24 June 2019.

"How will AI affect healthcare?" November 2019. (Podcast)

Research Projects
Recent Publications
Research Grants, Awards, and Prizes
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