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History of Medicine Lectures

Every year the Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health hosts a public lecture series sponsored in part by the NYAM Section on the History of Medicine and Public Health. Events are free and open to the public, and lectures begin at 6:00 p.m., with refreshments available at 5:30 p.m. Advance registration for section events is requested but not required.

For further information about medical history programs at NYAM, please call Associate Director Paul Theerman at 212-822-7350 or email


September 18, 2014 • 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

This talk is based on Jeremy Greene’s just published book, Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine, the first book to chronicle the social, political, and cultural history of generic drugs in America, narrating the evolution of the generic drug industry from a set of mid-twentieth-century "schlock houses" and "counterfeiters" into an agile and surprisingly powerful set of multinational corporations in the early twenty-first century.

October 2, 2014 • 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

This lecture explores the widespread sense that American medicine was suffering from an “image crisis” in the decades from 1945 to 1965. Focusing on commentaries about the demise of “good old doc,” speaker Nancy Tomes looks at how that perception reflected broader postwar debates over political authority, personal service, and the status anxieties of the middle class male.

October 18, 2014 • 11:00 AM - 6:30 PM

Our second-annual Festival of Medical History and the Arts celebrates the 500th birthday of anatomist and humanist Andreas Vesalius. Join us to celebrate his legacy in a day-long event with three floors of programming from 11am to 6:30pm.

November 18, 2014 • 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Jonas Salk’s vaccine against polio brought a fearful epidemic to a close. In the centennial year of Salk’s birth, we celebrate his achievement with the screening of The Shot Felt ’Round the World. This 2010 production chronicles Salk’s crucial work at the University of Pittsburgh that led to the polio vaccine’s success in the 1950s.

December 4, 2014 • 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Dr. Leona Baumgartner, New York City's first female Commissioner of Health, 1954–1962, was a fascinating individual whose story lies at the nexus of women's, public health, and urban history. This talk will look at the ways in which Baumgartner used her considerable politics skills and public persona to balance the Department’s traditional concerns for public health education and promotion, with the field’s increasing emphasis on scientific research.

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