AMS History of Medicine Grants & Fellowships

Matthew Wiseman

2018 Award Recipient

“Cold Soldiers: Medical Scientist Alan C. Burton and Military Experimentation in Cold War Canada”

My AMS postdoctoral research project will examine Burton’s postwar research contributions to military science in Canada. His work for the Defence Research Board is important for medical historians because it demonstrates the entangled histories of military funding and medical science in the Cold War. Burton’s medical research conformed to a military agenda that was unrelated to the civilian applications of his research, but the decision to conduct research for the Canadian armed services was his alone. He accepted military research funding to pursue his scientific curiosities and further his professional career. Burton also made the decision to observe the effects of cold on soldiers. He envisioned an experimental research study and convinced senior military officials to support his work. Did Cold War security anxieties place pressure on Burton, or was research funding the deciding factor? Why did he contribute to the Defence Research Board for eighteen years, and how did his research affect the soldiers involved in his experimental studies? Access to previously unused archival materials will provide answers to these complex historical questions.