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  • Academic staff

  • Dr Viviane Quirke

    Senior Lecturer in Modern History and History of Medicine

    School of History, Philosophy and Culture

    Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


    Phone number: +44 (0)1865 483706

    Email: vquirke@brookes.ac.uk


    Viviane Quirke has been researching and teaching at Oxford Brookes University since 2001. She had previously been a Research Associate on a Wellcome Trust Pilot Project at the Royal Institution in London. Her work has been supported by the Wellcome Trust, the European Science Foundation, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and the British Council in partnership with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among others. She was educated at the University of Paris X and at Oxford University, where she completed her D.Phil. in Modern History in 2000.

    To understand the world we live in, it is crucial to know how it has been shaped by science, technology and medicine. Dr Quirke's specialist teaching focuses on the history of medical knowledge, practice, and associated technologies, while her broader teaching considers the wider socio-economic and political context within which they developed, in particular the expansion of the medical market and the evolution of modern warfare.

    Modules taught


    • U68586 Medicine and War (3rd Year)
    • U67558 Brave New Worlds: Evolution and its Discontents, c.1850-2000 (2nd Year)
    • U67920 History and Documents (2nd Year)
    • U67503 The Rise of the Modern World (1st Year)
    • U67504 Medicine and Society, c. 1650-1914 (1st Year)
    • U67900 Making History: Theory, Methods and Sources (1st Year)
    • U67921 Work-Based Learning Module (2nd Year)


    • P68501 Key Concepts and Mehods in History of Medicine
    • P67510 Worlds of Risk: Technology, Health and the Environment
    • P67598 Independent Study Module (Combined History/History of Medicine strand)
    • P67599 History MA Dissertation (Combined History/History of Medicine strand)


    PhD supervision

    Dr Quirke has supervised a number of projects at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels, on various aspects of the history of modern medicine, as well as on the history of the First and Second World Wars.

    At PhD level, to date Dr Quirke has supervised to completion three projects, one as Second Supervisor (Jenny Wright, 'Public Health Women Doctors in England, 1974 to 1991: a case study', 2015), two as Director. Both were externally funded, the first by a Wellcome Trust Programme Grant (no 09568/Z/11/A) on which Dr Quirke has been co-investigator (Gilmour-Hamilton, 'A Cohort of One: Oral History and Cancer Research in Britain, 1970-2010', 2016); the second by an AHRC CDA with the Science Museum (Rushmore, 'Uses and Misuses of Chemicals in the British Home, c. 1930s-1980s', 2017). 

    Dr Quirke is also currently acting as Second Supervisor to another Wellcome Trust-funded PhD scholarship (Jane Freebody, '"What did they do all day?" Patient work, psychiatry and society in France and England, 1900-1940'. 

    PhD examination

    Dr Quirke has acted as internal and external examiner on a number of occasions, in Britain and abroad. Topics examined have included the history of smallpox in 18th-century England; the Association of Parents of Backward Children and the legacy of eugenics in Britain, 1946-1960; the history of antimetabolites and their contribution to a rational approach to chemotherapy, 1935-1955.  

    History of science, technology and medicine in Britain, France and the USA in the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a special focus on the history of biomedicine, drug therapies and the pharmaceutical industry.

    Dr Quirke's doctoral thesis compared the development of collaborative research networks between scientists and pharmaceutical companies in Britain and France in the twentieth century. It was published with Routledge as Collaboration in the Pharmaceutical Industry. Her current research areas are:

    • The history of pharmaceutical R&D, focusing on the history of drug treatments for chronic diseases and the impact of drug safety regulation.
    • The history of cancer chemotherapy, from the perspective of the the patients who have experinced it as well as the scientists and clinicians responsible for its development.
    • The material culture of biomedicine, from bench, to bedside, and public engagement.

    Dr Quirke was a co-applicant on a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award on 'Healthcare in Public and Private' (2007-2012), and has been co-investigator on a Wellcome Trust Programme Grant on 'Subjects' Narratives of Medical Research in Europe' (09568/Z/11/A). Recently she was awarded a grant from the Scientific Instrument Society for a study entitled: 'From Pharmaceutical Innovation to Public Engagement: Stephen Carter and teh Micrarium in Buxton'.  


    • Quirke V, Slinn J, Perspectives on twentieth-century pharmaceuticals , Peter Lang (2010)
      ISBN: 9783039109203
      Abstract Website

    Journal articles

    • Quirke V, 'From pharmaceutical innovation to public engagement: Stephen Carter and the Micrarium in Buxton'
      Bulletin- Scientific Instrument Society 132 (2017) pp.18-22
      ISSN: 0956-8271 eISSN: 0956-8271
    • Quirke V, 'Tamoxifen'
      New Scientist (3100) (2016)
      ISSN: 0262-4079 eISSN: 0262-4079
    • Quirke V, 'Targeting the American Market for Medicines, ca 1950s: ICI and Rhône-Poulenc compared'
      Bulletin of the History of Medicine 88 (4) (2014) pp.654-696
      ISSN: 0007-5140 eISSN: 0007-5140
      Abstract Website
    • Quirke V, 'Foreign influences, national styles, and the creation of a modern pharmaceutical industry in Britain and France'
      Pharmacy in History 52 (3 & 4) (2010) pp.134-147
      ISSN: 0031-7047 eISSN: 0031-7047
    • Quirke V, 'The material culture of British pharmaceutical laboratories in the golden age of drug discovery (c. 1935-75) '
      International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology 79 (2) (2009) pp.280-299
      ISSN: 1758-1206 eISSN: 1758-1206
      Abstract Website
    • Quirke V, Gaudilliere J-P, 'The era of biomedicine: science, medicine, and public health in Britain and France after the second world war'
      Medical History 52 (4) (2008) pp.441-452
      ISSN: 0025-7273 eISSN: 0025-7273
      Abstract Website
    • Quirke V, 'The changing role of chemistry in the twentieth century: scientists, instruments and pharmaceutical companies'
      Medical History 52 (4) (2008) pp.441-452
      ISSN: 0025-7273 eISSN: 0025-7273
    • Quirke V, Gaudillere JP, 'The Era of Biomedicine: Science, Medicine, and Public Health in Britain and France After the Second World War'
      Medical History 52 (2008) pp.441-452
      ISSN: 0025-7273 eISSN: 0025-7273
    • Quirke V, 'Putting theory into practice: James Black, receptor theory, and the development of the beta-blockers at ICI'
      Medical History 50 (1) (2006) pp.69-92
      ISSN: 0025-7273 eISSN: 0025-7273
    • Quirke V, 'Making British cortisone: Glaxo and the development of corticosteroid drugs in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s'
      Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (4) (2005) pp.645-74
      ISSN: 1369-8486 eISSN: 1369-8486
      Abstract Website
    • Quirke V, 'French biomedicine in the mirror of America'
      35 (4) (2004) pp.765-776
      ISSN: eISSN:
    • Quirke, VM, 'Tamoxifen from failed contraceptive pill to best-selling breast cancer medicine: a case-study in pharmaceutical innovation'
      Frontiers in Pharmacology 8 ()
      ISSN: 1663-9812 eISSN: 1663-9812
      Abstract Website
    • Quirke VM, 'Tamoxifen from failed contraceptive pill to best-selling breast cancer medicine: a case study in pharmaceutical innovation'
      Frontiers in Pharmacology 8 ()
      ISSN: 1663-9812 eISSN: 1663-9812
      Abstract Website

    Book chapters

    • Quirke VM, 'Pharmaceutical Innovation in the Public and Private Spheres' in Healthcare in Private and Public from the Early Modern Period to 2000, Routledge (2014)
      ISBN: 978-0415727037
    • Quirke V, 'Les relations franco-britanniques et l'industrie pharmaceutique: une perspective internationale sur l'histoire de Rhône-Poulenc' in Echanges Franco-britanniques Entre Savants Depuis Le XVIIe Siecle: Franco-British Interactions in Science Since the Seventeenth Century, College Publications (2010)
      ISBN: 978848900002
      Abstract Website
    • Quirke V, 'From antibiotics to cancer chemotherapy (1950s-1980s): the transformation of Rhône-Poulenc in the era of biomedicine' in Circulation of Antibiotics: Journeys of Drug Standards, 1930-1970, ESF (2010)
    • Quirke V, 'Standardizing R&D in the second half of the twentieth century: ICI's Nolvadex Development Programme in historical and comparatve perspective' in Harmonizing Drugs: Standards in 20th-Century Pharmaceutical History, Editions Glyphe (2009)
      ISBN: 9782358150163
    • Quirke V, 'Anglo-American relations and the co-production of American "hegemony" in pharmaceuticals' in American Firms in Europe Strategy, Identity, Perception and Performance (1880-1980), Droz (2008)
      ISBN: 9782600012591
      Abstract Website
    • Quirke V, ''Drugs (medical)'' in , n/a ()


    • Quirke V, review of Hormones of Life. Endocrinology, the Pharmaceutical Industry, and the Dream of a Remedy for Sterility, 1930-1970, in Ambix 60 (2013) pp.83-84
      ISSN: 0002-6980 eISSN: 0002-6980
    • Quirke V, review of Evaluating and Standardizing Therapeutic Agents 1890-1950., in British Journal for the History of Science 45 (2012) pp.470-472
      ISSN: 0007-0874 eISSN: 0007-0874
    • Quirke V, review of Knowledge Accumulation and Industry Evolution: the Case of Pharma-biotech, in British Journal for the History of Science 41 (2009) pp.626-628
      ISSN: 0007-0874 eISSN: 0007-0874
    • Quirke V, review of From Physick to Pharmacology: Five Hundred Years of British Drug Retailing, in Medical History 52 (2008) pp.417-417
      ISSN: 0025-7273 eISSN: 0025-7273
    • Quirke V, review of Penicillin: Triumph and Tragedy, in Technology and Culture 49 (2008) pp.829-831
      ISSN: 0040-165X eISSN: 0040-165X
    • Quirke V, review of Inventing Biomedicine - France, America and the Production of Knowledge About Life (1945-1965), in Social History of Medicine 16 (2004) pp.545-546
      ISSN: 0951-631X eISSN: 0951-631X
    • Quirke V, review of Designs for Life: Molecular Biology After World War Ii, in Social History of Medicine 16 (2004) pp.547-548
      ISSN: 0951-631X eISSN: 0951-631X
    • Quirke V, review of The Pharmaceutical Industry: a Guide to Historical Records, in Economic History Review 56 (2004) pp.798-798
      ISSN: 0013-0117 eISSN: 0013-0117

    Membership of professional bodies

    • Secretary of the British Society for the History of Science between 2005 and 2010
    • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry Historical Group Committee
    • Member of the Steering Committee for the History of Science at the Maison Francaise d'Oxford
    • Member of the American Association for the History of Medicine
    • Member of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
    • Member of the Royal Historical Society
    • Member of the Royal Microscopical Society



    Public lectures

    • 'Franco-British relations, war, and the pharmaceutical industry: Rhone-Poulenc in international and historical perspective' (Lycee du Parc, Lyon, 21 October 2009).
    • 'Pharmaceuticals and 20th-century chemistry' ('Chemistry and the Growth of Science', day school of the Department of Continuing Education, Oxford University, Rewley House, 29 January 2011).

    Published conference and workshop presentations

    • 'From antibiotics to cancer chemotherapy: the transformation of Rhone-Poulenc in the era of biomedicine' (ESF Antibiotics workshop preprint, Madrid, 16-18 June 2009).
    • 'Developing penicillin, patenting cephalosporin, and transforming medical research in Britain: the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford, 1930s-1970s', in J.P. Gaudilliere, D.J. Kevles, and H.-J. Rheinberger (eds), Living Properties: making knowledge and controlling ownership in the history of biology (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Preprint 382, 2009), pp. 65-73.
    • 'The impact of Thalidomide on the British pharmaceutical industry: the case of Imperial Chemical Industries', in J.-P. Gaudilliere and V. Hess (eds), Ways of Regulating: therapeutic agents between plants, shops, and consutling rooms(Max Planck Institute Preprint 363,Berlin, 2009), pp. 125-41.
    • 'From chemistry to pharmaceuticals, and from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology: the many transformations of ICI in the twentieth century', in I. Malaquias, E, Hombrurg and M.E. Callapez (eds), Chemistry, Technology and Society, (Lisbon: Sociedade Portuguesa de Quimica, 2006), also accessible online
    • 'Bridging boundaries: the evolution of the Scientific Services Group, and the growth of pharmaceutical research at ICI ca 1955-75', European History Association annual meeting, Barcelona, 16-18 September 2004 (EBHA website)
    • 'Drugs by serendipity or by design? Applying science to the pharmaceutical industry in 1950s Britain and France', European Business History Association annual meeting, Oslo, 31 August-1 September 2001 (EBHA website).

    Conference and seminar organisation

    • 'Evidence, clinical trials, and human experimentation', Oxford Brookes University History of Medicine seminar series, semester 1, 2010-11.
    • 'Treating the heart, treating cancer: medicines and the standardization of chronic disease', ESF-funded workshop held at Manchester University, Nov.-Dec. 2009.
    • Joint Oxford University, Maison Francaise d'Oxford, and Oxford Brookes University History of Chemistry Seminar Series: 'Mastering Nature? Chemistry in History' (Trinity 2008, Trinity 2009, Trinity 2010).
    • 'Cancer and innovation. How to deal with cancer? Cancer, innovation and politics', workshop held at the Maison Francaise d'Oxford, 4 Feb. 2009.
    • 'Pharmaceutical styles of thinking and doing: French and British spheres of influence in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries', session for 3rd Conference of the European Society for the History of Science, Vienna, Austria, 9-13 Sept. 2008.
    • 'The Importance of Place: connecting disciplines in and around Oxford', session for 3 Societies meeting, Oxford University, 4-6 July 2008.

    Other experience


    • Editor of the Newsletter of the RSC Historical Group between 2006 and 2010.
    • Guest editor with Jean-Paul Gaudilliere, 'The Era of Biomedicine: science, medicine and health in Britain and France, ca 1945-65', special issue of Medical History, 52 (2008).
    • Guest Editor of 'Pharmaceutical styles: French and British spheres of influence in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries', special issue of Pharmacy in History, 52 (2010).