Call for Papers
New deadline: 8 May 2009

To be held at the
Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine
University of Manchester
27-28 November 2009

Non-communicable illnesses such as cancer or heart disease have long
been feared. Having previously been conceived of as ‘diseases of
civilization’ or ‘degenerative diseases’, in the twentieth century, when
the threats posed especially by tuberculosis declined in the
industrialised world, these illnesses turned into major issues for
policy makers and public health experts, pharmaceutical companies and an
anxious public. Cancer and cardiovascular disease and the role that the
development and marketing of treatments for chronic illness have played
in the broader history of standardization in medicine will be the
central theme of this workshop.

The histories of cancer, cardiovascular disease and other
non-communicable illnesses have much in common, but there are important
differences between them that are worth exploring. Many of the
blockbuster drugs of the last 50 years have been developed for the
treatment of cardiovascular disorders. In the course of this
development, some illnesses have been transformed from acute to chronic
(e.g. malignant hypertension) and it has become acceptable to treat
physiological parameters that do not cause symptoms but are
statistically associated with illness later in life (e.g. mild
hypertension or hypercholesterolaemia). In contrast, and with few
exceptions, cancer drugs have often been used to treat what might
otherwise be considered as orphan diseases and have rarely been as
commercially profitable as cardiovascular drugs. Nevertheless, cancer
has been central to the development of many of the practices, such as
testing, clinical research, and standardization, which are increasingly
applied to other fields of medicine, above all the multi-centre
randomised clinical trial.

We are especially interested in contributions that are in themselves
comparative or invite comparisons, between different illnesses (for
example heart disease and cancer) or across different national contexts.

Papers may discuss issues surrounding notions of the chronic and the
acute or the relationship between risk and disease. Or they may look at
spaces of drug administration: from inpatient to outpatient departments.
Institutional developments will also have to be discussed. Another issue
worth exploring is the concept of ‘chemotherapy’. What did it mean in
different contexts? Regulatory institutions, policies and practices also
lend themselves to international comparisons. Such practices were
closely related to the clinical specialties dealing with the different
diseases, inviting comparisons between them. Further points for
discussion will be issues related to the consumption of medicines, the
role of patients and patient organizations, and questions of gender. All
these can be viewed as leading to the establishment of standards that
were different between countries and diseases, in a process that can be
studied historically and geographically.

We plan to organise the workshop around the following main analytical
– The management of risk and efficacy
– The structure of biomedical research: laboratories, clinics, protocols
– Market conceptualisation, market realities, sales and uses
– Regulatory frameworks and regulatory practices

Please send abstracts (no more than 500 words) to
Dr Carsten Timmermann: [email protected] and
Dr Viviane Quirke: [email protected]

New deadline for abstracts: 8 May 2009

The workshop forms part of the Research Networking Programme ‘Standard
Drugs and Drug Standards’ of the European Science Foundation. For more
information please visit http://drughistory.eu/