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McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences Newsmagazine — Volume 9, Issue 1, Spring 2015

Historian brings global perspective to Hannah Chair

Ellen Amster
Ellen Amster

Ellen Amster has been appointed as the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine.

The historian of Middle East medicine joins McMaster from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is an expert on transnational health issues and the social history of biomedicine in global context. Amster focuses on public health, maternal and infant health, and the encounters between western and Islamic medicines. Her work draws upon the western history of medicine, from the Ancient Greeks to the twentieth century, and anthropological methodologies from the study of health and healing in Africa.

"Dr. Amster brings a new perspective of approaching health research with the lens of a historian. Her international work in Northern Africa with midwives and her work on beliefs in health care are of great interest to the Department with our new efforts in public health and the related master's program," said Holger Schünemann, chair of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics (CE&B), where Amster will be based.

Pamela Swett, chair of the Department of History, where Amster is jointly appointed said: "Dr. Amster brings to McMaster a truly interdisciplinary outlook on education and plans to engage students across campus by demonstrating how the historical analysis of contemporary medical questions can lead to better health care."

The endowed chair was funded in part by a $2 million donation from Associated Medical Services.