Dr Viviane Quirke

Senior Lecturer in Modern History and History of Medicine

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, 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.



  • U68586 Medicine and War (3rd Year)
  • U67558 Brave New Worlds: Medicine and Modernity, c.1850-2000 (2nd Year)
  • U67920 History and Documents (2nd Year)
  • U68523 Drug Therapies through the Ages (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)

To understand the world we live in, it is crucial to understand 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.


  • P68501 Key Concepts and Mehods in History of Medicine
  • U68504 From Pills and Potions, to Penicillin and Prozac
  • P67599/P68599 History/History of Medicine MA Dissertation (Combined History/History of Medicine MA)

Dr Quirke has supervised MA dissertations on various aspects of the history of medicine, and is currently supervising a Ph.D. dissertation on cancer patients' perspectives of medical research. She welcomes applications from students interested in the history of science, technology and/or medicine from a variety of perspectives, as well as in modern history more widely.


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 company-hospital relations and the development of clusters of innovation in Britain, France and the USA.
  • The history of cancer chemotherapy.

Dr Quirke was a co-applicant on a British Council/Alliance Research Partnership Programme Grant to study the development and impact of diphtheria anti-toxin in Britain and France (2009-2011). She is a co-applicant on two major Wellcome Trust grants: a Strategic Award on 'Healthcare in Public and Private' (2007-2012), and a Programme Grant on 'Subjects' Narratives of Medical Research in Europe' (2012-2016).


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

  • '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).
  • '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)
  • '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
  • '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.
  • '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.
  • 'From antibiotics to cancer chemotherapy: the transformation of Rhone-Poulenc in the era of biomedicine' (ESF Antibiotics workshop preprint, Madrid, 16-18 June 2009).

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.


  • 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).

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
  • Member of the Steering Committee for the History of Science at the Maison Francaise d'Oxford
  • Member of the European Society for the History of Science
  • Member of the International Society for Cultural History
  • Member of the Society for the Social History of Medicine
  • Member of the American Association for the History of Medicine
  • Member of the Association of Business Historians
  • Member of the European Business History Association


  • Books
  • Journal articles
  • Book chapters
  • Other


  • Collaboration in the Pharmaceutical Industry: changing relationships in Britain and France,1935-1965 (London/New York, Routledge, October 2007).
  • V.M. Quirke and Judy Slinn (eds), Perspectives on 20th-century Pharmaceuticals (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2010).

Journal articles

  • 'War and change in the pharmaceutical industry: a comparative study of Britain and France in the twentieth century', in special issue of Entreprises et Histoire, 36 (2004), 64-83.
  • 'Making British cortisone: Glaxo and the development of corticosteroid drugs in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s', Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 36 (2005), 645-674.
  • 'Putting theory into practice: James Black, receptor theory, and the development of the beta-blockers at ICI', Medical History, 50, 1 (2006), 69-92.
  • with Jean-Paul Gaudilliere, 'The Era of Biomedicine: science, medicine and health in Britain and France, ca 1945-65', in V. Quirke and J.-P. Gaudilliere (eds), special issue of Medical History, 52 (2008), 441-52.
  • 'The material culture of British pharmaceutical laboratories in the Golden Age of Drug Discovery',International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology, 72(2009), 298-317.
  • 'Foreign influences, national styles, and the creation of a modern pharmaceutical industry in Britain and France', in V. Quirke (ed), Pharmaceutical styles: French and British spheres of influence in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries', special issue of Pharmacy in History, 52 (2010): 134-47.

Book chapters

  • 'A big happy family: The Royal Institution under William and Lawrence Bragg, and the history of molecular biology',in James (ed), 'The Common Purposes of Life': two hundred years of science at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 1799-1999 (Ashgate, 2002).
  • with F.A.J.L. James, 'L'affaire Andrade: or how not to modernise a traditional institution', in ibid.
  • 'From alkaloids to gene therapy: a brief history of drug discovery', in S. Anderson (ed), Making Medicines: a brief history of pharmacy (London: Pharmaceutical Press, 2005), pp. 177-201.
  • 'From evidence to market: Alfred Spinks' 1953 survey of fields for pharmacological research, and the origins of ICI's cardiovascular programme', in V. Berridge and K. Loughlin (eds), Medicine, the market and the mass media: producing healthin the twentieth century(London: Routledge, 2005), pp. 146-71.
  • 'Anglo-American relations and the co-production of American "hegemony" in pharmaceuticals', in H. Bonin and F. de Goey (eds), American Firms in Europe, 1880-1980: strategy, identity, perception and perfromance (Geneva: Droz, 2009), pp. 363-84.
  • 'Standardizing R&D in the second half of the twentieth century: ICI's Nolvadex Development Programme in historical and comparative perspective', in C. Bonah, C. Masutti, A. Rasmussen, and J. Simon (eds), Harmonizing Drugs. Standards in 20th-Century Pharmaceutical History (Paris, Eds. Glyphe, 2009), pp. 105-32.
  • 'Les relations franco-britanniques et l'industrie pharmaceutique: une perspective internationale sur l'histoire de Rhone-Poulenc', in R. Fox and B. Joly (eds), Echanges entre savants francais et britanniques depuis le XVIIe siecle (London: College Publications/Cahiers de logique et d'épistémologie no 7, 2010), pp. 317-38.
  • with J. Slinn, 'Perspectiveson Twentieth-Century Pharmacueticals: an introduction', in V. Quirke and J. Slinn (eds), Perspective on Twentieth-Century Pharmacueticals (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2010), pp. 1-34.


Essay reviews

  • 'French biomedicine in the mirror of America', Stud. Hist. Phil. Biol. & Biomed. Sci., 50 (2004), 765-776.
  • 'Chemistry and the pharmaceutical industry', Ambix, 53 (2006), 167-171.

Reference articles

  • 'James Black', 'Ernst Chain', 'Alexander Fleming', 'Howard Florey', 'A history of penicillin', in Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (Nature Publishing Group, 2002).
  • 'J.B.S. Haldane', and others, inOxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).
  • 'Drug Discovery', in Akira Iriye & Pierre-Yves Saunier (eds), The Dictionary of Transnational History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).


Dr Viviane Quirke

Tel: +44 (0)1865 483706
Fax: +44 (0)1865 483887

postal address