The history of medicine

Understanding the past to create a better healthcare system today.

Why focus on the history of medicine?

In the 1970's, the history of medicine was an understudied discipline in Canada. We set out to change that because we saw its importance as a source of lessons that could positively shape Canadian healthcare.

Since then-and with the help of many partners-we've worked to elevate its standing in the academic community and beyond. Today, the study of the history of medicine is thriving across our country.

We are Canada's main source of support for the history of medicine.


We have two funding streams to support your work in this field:

Hannah chairs

We established five Hannah Chairs in the History of Medicine at Ontario Faculties in the 1970's as a tribute to our founder, Dr. Jason Hannah. In 1999, seven Hannah Chairs were endowed in perpetuity by AMS and their host universities. Today, eight Hannah Chairs priortize the history of medicine in healthcare education, giving students a greater understanding of Canada's medical past.

Research grants and fellowships

In 2015, we launched funding for work on the history of medicine. We provide it directly, through partnerships, or via organizations that administer the application process. Our goal is to raise interest in the topic, broaden the scope of research, and shape how the subject is taught. Funding is available to researchers, healthcare professionals, and students.

Amazing people are advancing this work

Dr. Darrel Manitowabi

Hannah Chair in the History of Indigenous Health and Indigenous Traditional Medicine

“As a Hannah Chair, I will work to promote the discussion of the inherent, constitutional, Treaty and international rights of all Indigenous Peoples and communities; and the protection of traditional knowledge and medicines from appropriation.”

Fedir Razumenko

Post-doctoral Fellow, History of Medicine

“AMS has helped me explore the history of Canadian cooperative clinical cancer trials to trace the evolution of health research ethics. My project has the potential to influence public discourse and inform policy decisions around the challenges related to the integration of clinical research into cancer care.”

Featured projects and resources

Nurses as change agents for a better future in health care: the politics of drift and dilution

This paper takes the 70th Anniversary of the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom as an opportunity to reflect upon the strategic direction of nursing policy and the extent to which nurses can realise their potential as change agents in building a better future for health care. As published in Health Economics, Policy…

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Competition in healthcare: Lessons from the UK’s experience

Learn about competition as it relates to healthcare in the United Kingdom. Understand the impact of health policy reforms on the quality, productivity, and distribution of healthcare resources across socio-economic groups.

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Why policy needs history (and historians)

Policy makers like the idea of new initiatives and fresh starts, unencumbered by, even actively overthrowing, what has been done in the past. At the same time, history can be pigeonholed as fusty and antiquarian, dealing with long past events of no relevance to the present. As published in Health Economics, Policy and Law Volume…

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A history of partnerships

We're proud of the many partnerships we've established over the years. Beyond our long-standing connections with academic institutions, we've regularly supported events that bring people from around the world together to share knowledge. We're keenly aware of the power of shared information to shape the future.

Get Started

Our post-doctoral fellowships and project or doctoral completion grants can support your work and help you access valuable peer networks.