Dr James F. Stark

Dr James F. Stark

Associate Professor of Medical Humanities

+44 (0)113 343 0247

Summary: History of modern medicine, especially infectious disease, public health and ageing.

Location: Baines Wing, G32


Dr Stark's current research focuses on the history of rejuvenation and anti-ageing in the twentieth century, exploring in particular the links between biomedical and socio-cultural approaches to ageing, vitality and beauty. Supported by a major AHRC Leadership Fellowship his project, Endless Possibilities of Rejuvenation, builds on a Wellcome Seed Award which brought together for the first time a cohort of researchers from across the arts and humanities to investigate the concept and practices of regeneration in medicine. His other research interests include the role of patenting and ownership in medicine and healthcare, the history of medical technologies and the history of infectious disease and public health.

His first monograph, The Making of Modern Anthrax, 1875-1920 (Pickering & Chatto, 2013), examined the appearance and social role of this deadly disease at the local, national and global levels, focusing on the international wool trade and exchange of materials, ideas and practices. He has also edited a special issue of the British Journal for the History of Science and published in field-leading journals including Medical History, Social History of Medicine, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Museum and Society and Heritage and Society.

He is also currently leading the historical strand of an AHRC-funded interdisciplinary project - Lifting the Lid - designing new graphic interventions to encourage handwashing amongst primary school children. He was co-investigator on an recently-completed AHRC network, Exploring Histories and Futures of Innovation in Advanced Wound Care, bringing together researchers from diverse disciplines to explore the development and history of advanced wound care. He has recently completed a collaborative project with the Science Museum, Digital Tools in the Service of Difficult Heritage, investigating the use of digital tools to reimagine our relationship with challenging histories of physical and mental impairment.

He has held grants as Principal Investigator from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Wellcome Trust, Leeds Social Sciences Institute, Scientific Instrument Society, and the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. He has also collaborated extensively with the Thackray Medical Museum and has worked with a diverse range of non-academic partners, including the Science Museum, Boots, National Trust, Leeds Museums and Galleries, and Marks & Spencer.

In 2016 he was jointly awarded the Royal Society's Notes and Records Essay Prize for his paper on Arthur Koestler and anti-reductionism in biology, and in 2014 he received First Prize in the Young Scholars Award Competition by the World Association for the History of Veterinary Medicine for an essay examining the international network of anthrax research between Britain, France and Australia in the late nineteenth century.

He was Chair of the Outreach and Education Committee of the British Society for the History of Science (2013-17), and remains Honorary Archivist for the BSHS. He has spent time as a visiting researcher at the University of Hong Kong (November 2013) and the University of Sydney (April 2014). Since 2011 he has organised a number of events for the British Science Festival and is currently on the committee of the Medical Sciences Section of the British Science Association.

In 2014-15 he was a member of the New Generations in Medical Humanities training programme. In 2015 he was appointed to the AHRC Peer Review College, and he is also Director of Impact for the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science. Since June 2017 he has held the role of Reviews Editor for the British Journal for the History of Science.

He would welcome enquiries from prospective research students or fellow researchers interested in any aspects of the history of medicine and the biological sciences in the nineteenth or twentieth century, particularly those whose interests lie in the following areas:

  • Infectious disease and public health
  • Medical technologies
  • Transnational history of medicine
  • Visual and material culture in the history of science and medicine
  • Age, ageing and fertility