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The following research projects within the HOMHCP are currently funded by external research foundations:


Research Project I:
The Cultural Context of Modern Neuroscientific Research: Exploring the Impact of Institutional Research Settings and Professional Migration Patterns

Keywords: CULTURAL CONTEXT OF NEUROSCIENCE; CULTURAL CONTEXT OF PSYCHIATRY; HISTORY OF BIOETHICS; HISTORY OF MEDICINE; HISTORY OF NEUROETHICS; HISTORY OF NEUROSCIENCE; INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT OF NEUROSCIENCE; ORGANIZATION OF RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS; PHYSICIAN MIGRATION; PUBLIC MENTAL HEALTH

Abstract: This history of medicine research project investigates some important cultural influences on modern neuroscience with a focus on institutional, organizational and researcher migration issues. The research follows an integrated group biographical, institution and network historiographical approach, while investigating biographical, conceptual and organizational information on émigré neuroscientists, who were forced to leave their home countries in the 1930s and 1940s and came to North America due to the political changes in Central Europe. The historical project also analyzes the role of international networks that facilitated the forced migration of this group of approximately 600 neurologists, psychiatrists and other medical researchers and clinicians, as well as their integration into North American neuroscience centers, the reciprocal changes of these research settings and the ways, how they were locally modified. By applying a cultural view to neuroscience history, the project gives new insights into the nature of progressive and regressive factors of individual forms of research organization, the development of institutional models and their impact on modern neuroscience, thus contributing to the advancement of ELSI knowledge in medicine and providing historical information for use among respective stakeholders (researchers, administrators, organizational leaders) in the Canadian and International Neurosciences. This project investigates some major institutional settings and patterns of migration and adaptation in North American neuroscience between 1910 (when the first interdisciplinary neuroscience centres emerged in Europe) and 1970 (when the Society of Neuroscience had its first US meeting), in order to determine its receptiveness to external impulses and its permeability for foreign researchers and physicians.

Principle Investigator: Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch
Research Assistant: Mr. Stephen Pow, M.A.
Summer Student: Ms. Erna Kurbegovic, M.A.
Admin. Assistant: Mrs. Beth Cusitar

This research project is graciously supported by an Open Operating Grant through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).


AHRF logoResearch Project II:
The History of the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine – Its First Fifty Years as a New Medical School in the Province of Alberta

This partial research project is currently being developed and researched at the University of Calgary (in the Departments of Community Health Science and History). The historiographical research will produce new understandings of the foundation and the early history of the UofC Medical Faculty. As a history project, it investigates particularly the development of the early departments and working fields of Community Health Sciences, Psychiatry and Neurology (within the later Division of Clinical Neuroscience) as well as Family Medicine. These areas were very much in line with the original mandate of the Cumming School of Medicine to produce family physicians and serve the Calgary and Southern Albertan community, as advocated for by the founding Dean of Medicine, Dr. William A. Cochrane (b. 1926). Since the community mandate of the UofC Cumming School of Medicine soon after began to change and be reconceived within the development of a larger research community and culture at the Foothills Medical Centre, the second part of this project will investigate the creation and impact of the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) and the development of the University of Calgary as a major research hub in clinical medicine and biomedical science in Alberta.

As part of a larger initiative, this project will augment current research by adding the community perspective to the history of the UofC Cumming School of Medicine. In this form, it seeks to take the internal history of the Faculty as it is currently written, concentrating on the historical development of the educational programs, departments, institutes and centres, and integrate it into the inaugurational context of the Faculty to be community oriented, produce physicians for the Province of Alberta and develop health care facilities with the prospect of increasing the available medical resources structures and supporting the provision of close access to intensive medical care on a high university clinical level. This had very interesting implications also for nationally innovative and truly visionary programs, such as the early integration of community-based family medicine with detailed electronic record systems (after the first personal computers had barely been on the market in the 1970s), as introduced through the Department of Family Medicine under its head, the Canadian physician Dr. John B. Corley (b. 1921), and the integration of academic Psychiatry with a strong community mental health service program (“Family Therapy Program”), as it became inaugurated with the first department head, Dr. Keith Pearce, and later further diversified by the New York- and Toronto-trained German-Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Sebastian K. Littmann (1931-1986). These ground-breaking developments contributed to the quality of the clinical and research endeavours at the UofC Cumming School of Medicine, as well as to a very unique educational and academic outlook of a modern, flexible and innovative 20th century medical school. To this end, historical research will be pursued by the principal applicant of this grant proposal – in conjunction with graduate student research assistants – in the Archives of the University of Calgary (particularly the archival collections on the Medical Faculty), in the collections of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary (on the former Calgary General Hospital and its integration with the city’s health care system), as well as the Provincial Archives in Edmonton (regarding the accessible archival material on the former Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research), which will be strongly considered for this partial research project and respectively historiographically investigated.

Principle Investigator: Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch
(partial research project)
In conjunction with Dr. Bob Lampard, Dr. Jim Wright and Dr. David Hogan)
(PI and Co-Is of the larger research project)
Research Assistant: Mr. Mikkel Dack, M.A.
Research Assistant: Mr. Will Pratt, M.A.
Summer Student: TBA
Admin. Assistant: Mrs. Beth Cusitar

This research project is graciously supported by a Research Grant through the Heritage Preservation Partnership Program through the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation (AHRF).

History of the Calgary Cumming School of Medicine webpage


Research Project III:
German-Speaking Emigre-Neuroscientists in Canada and the United States, 1930s to 1970s

Probably no other single "interdisciplinary" research endeavour has shaped today's landscape in the life sciences and biomedicine as much as Francis O. Schmitt's (1903-1995) "Neuroscience Study Program" at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. With its integrative approach to the neurosciences, Schmitt managed to bring together an international group of eminent researchers from various disciplines and stimulate their productive interaction in the study of the nervous system. But we do not have an adequate historical or sociological account of what caused such interdisciplinary research programs in the first place. The current research project therefore presents itself somewhat as an archaeology of undoubtedly one of the most powerful interdisciplinary areas of the empirical and natural sciences. In focusing particularly on the impact of German-speaking émigré-neuroscientists on the emerging field of neuroscience between the 1930s and 1970s, the results shall give further hints as to how important interdisciplinary work has become in the sciences of the 20th century and their educational and research organization. As such, this research project is of double value for the historiographical, epistemological, philosophical, and methodological aspects of the science studies, as well as displaying itself as a specific case study of an important, yet hitherto neglected theoretical field within the neurosciences.

This study will contribute to a growing body of literature in history of science and the science and technology studies on the factors, elements and causes for the development of interdisciplinarity in the modern empirical sciences and research landscapes as well as the impact of migration patterns on knowledge generation, change and application due to the process of forced-migration in the 20th century (here: the case of neuroscience). It will thus contribute to the field of Canadian, American and German history, immigration studies, education studies as well as problem areas from Jewish and Gender studies and the sociology of academic research associations.

Principle Investigator: Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch
Summer Student: Ms. Paula Larsson, B.A.
Admin. Assistant: Mrs. Beth Custard

This research project is graciously supported by an Insight Development Grant through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).


For further information on the research activities in the History of Medicine and Health Care Program at the University of Calgary, please click on the individual Scholar’s Profiles and their Research Projects on the left-hand menu

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