Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Community Health Sciences and the Department of History, a truly fortunate situation that helps to bridge the gap between the burgeoning areas of biomedical science and the traditional fields of the humanities.
His research attempts to create in-depth understanding for the development and necessities of basic research in medicine and the health sciences. It further places medicine and health care in the wider context of society and culture with their specific traditions of healing, inquiry, health care and patient support.
Frank Stahnisch's expertise lies in a number of areas, such as the history and philosophy of laboratory-based research in Western medicine, the long history and theory of the nerve and brain sciences, as well as social and philosophical questions regarding the use of pictures and imaging techniques in modern medical practice.
Before joining the UofC in June 2008, he was a visiting professor at the Department of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill University, Montreal, and worked at the Institute for History, Philosophy, and Ethics of Medicine at the University of Mainz, the Institute for History and Ethics of Medicine at the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg, and in the Neurosciences at the Charité Medical School in Berlin (Germany).
Being trained as a medical doctor as well as in philosophy of science, Frank Stahnisch became particularly interested in history of medicine as it allows the nature of often ground-breaking changes to be uncovered that not only gave rise to health research, as we know it today, but also separated other time-periods and cultures from one another. In the increasingly globalized and flexible world of today, such historical in-depth knowledge helps us to better understand the concepts of health, disease, suffering, research, and healing - not only in Western societies, but also in continuously merging cultures worldwide.
Frank Stahnisch has published widely on the history of experimental biomedicine and the neurosciences, including a monograph on 19th century French experimental physiology, when laboratory investigation came to rise as the center of biomedical research. His current historical occupation is with instances of group work and new organizations of neuroscientific research in the 20th century. He is further interested in the impact that European émigré doctors and researchers had on the approaches and institutions of North-American neurology, brain research, and public mental health.
Dr. Stahnisch participates in a number of national and international research projects in the history of medicine and neuroscience and is an active member on boards and committees of history of medicine and science societies. Among his local activities, he is particularly involved in the organization of the History of Medicine Days (a nation-wide student conference here at Calgary), he researches the history of the Medical Faculty and, together with interested faculty, students, and doctors, he is re-launching the Calgary History of Medicine Society. The Calgary History of Medicine Society serves communication between generations and faculties; it fosters the exchange between the health care fields at UofC, the city and the region through lectures, talks, and workshops focusing on the history of medicine and health care.
Through the activities of this professorship, an increase in the understanding for the scope and limits of modern medicine shall be reached and its relations to the changing social and cultural contexts will be rendered more visible: «Understanding the Past in Creating the Future of Health».