Recent research into the history of science and medicine has demonstrated that the development of the field of medical genetics during the early decades of the Twentieth Century was fundamentally linked to the emergence of eugenics.

The workshop will examine the establishment of medical genetics from an international perspective while placing it within the context of longer term trends on eugenic programs and research policies. Throughout the workshop, emphasis will be placed on examining actual research programs and practices, their political and cultural contexts, as well as the role they played in the development of scientific standards and research trends.

Further, it will be explored how specific local and national background conditions contributed to the institutionalization of medical genetics in Germany, England, the United States, France, and Israel. In this context, the workshop will seek to answer the following questions:

– How did the association with eugenics favor or hinder the development of the field of medical genetics within the various national frameworks? – What impact did the emerging fields of population and experimental genetics have on research practices and theories? – What role did the discrediting of eugenics after 1945 play for the funding, research programs, and theories of medical genetics?

The language of the workshop will be English.

Due to limited space, attendees must register in advance.

For more information, please contact Volker Roelcke ([email protected]) or Anne Cottebrune ([email protected]).


Thursday, 28 June

16.00 Get together / Coffee and Tea

16.30 Welcome Anne Cottebrune, Volker Roelcke

16.45 Introduction Volker Roelcke

17.00 Bernd Gausemeier (Berlin): The impact of genealogy on the formation of the field of medical genetics

17.45 Edmund Ramsden (London): Lionel Penrose and the population genetics of mental ability, deficiency anddisease in the UK and US

19.30 Dinner

Friday, 29 June

9.30 Volker Roelcke (Giessen) Establishing the scientific foundations of eugenic policies: Ernst Raedin and psychiatric genetics at the German Psychiatric Research Institute

10.15 Sheila Weiss (Potsdam, NY): Otmar von Verschuer – a key figure in German racial hygiene and medical genetics

11.00 coffee break

11.30 Etienne Lepicard (Jerusalem/ Giessen) Eugenics and demography in the work of Alexis Carrel and Jean Sutter, ca. 1930-1960.

12.15 Marius Turda (Oxford): Pathology, Heredity and Genetics in Interwar Romania

13.00 – 14.00 lunch

14.00 Staffan Mueller-Wille (Exeter): Hermann Lundborg and Gunnar Dahlberg on eugenics and medical genetics – a comparison

14.45 Paul Weindling (Oxford): International anti-racist networks of biomedical scientists in the 1930s and 40s

15.30 coffee break

16.00 Alexander von Schwerin (Braunschweig): The legacy of mice and rabbits in German medical genetics 1930-1970

16.45 Anne Cottebrune (Giessen): Franz Joseph Kallmann (1897-1965) and the Roots of Psychiatric Genetics in the United States: Transfer of German Scientific Concepts in the Context of North American Eugenics

17.30 tea

18.00 Garland Allen (Washington): Waxing and Waning of Genetic Determinism: Criticisms of Eugenics, 1935-1950 and the Rise of the ‘New’ Genetic Determinism, 1969-2000

18.45 Nurit Kirsh (Beer Sheva): Chaim Sheba, Elisabeth Goldschmidt and the screening for genetic diseases in Israel during the 1950s

20.00 Dinner

Saturday, 30 June

9.30 Pnina G. Abir-Am (Brandeis University/ Belmont, MA): The Rockefeller Foundation’s shift of strategy in the post WW2 era: Ramifications for Molecular Biology and Genetics

10.15 Heike Petermann (Muenster): Medical Genetics and Eugenics in Germany, the UK, and USA: The Way to Ciba Symposium “Man and his future” (London, 1962)

10.30 coffee break

11.00 Diane Paul (Boston): Newborn Screening and the Rhetoric of Reproduction in the 1960s

11.45 Helga Satzinger (London): Comments

12.00 General discussion

Organization: Volker Roelcke, Anne Cottebrune, Institut fuer Geschichte der Medizin, Universitaet Giessen Jheringstr. 6, D-35392 Giessen Venue: Kongresshalle, Berliner Platz 2, 35390 Giessen