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Upcoming Seminars & Events



All lectures take place at 3647 Peel Street from  4:30 pm-6:00 pm, Don Bates Seminar Room 101 unless noted otherwise.

Please note that seminar times MAY VARY, so be sure to check each individual listing carefully!



June 03  4:00pm-5:30pm

Michael Stolberg

"Teaching and acquiring surgical skills in the 16th century. An analysis of medical students'  notebooks and letters."

Surgery is widely believed to have played only a marginal role in academic teaching and medical practice in the Renaissance.  True, there was a tiny elite of learned or indeed  academically trained physician-surgeons  such as Ambroise Paré in France and Wilhelm Fabry in Germany but, in general, learned physicians – and certainly those North of the Alps – are said to have left surgery to barber-surgeons and itinerant opérateurs. To the degree, learned physicians devoted themselves to surgery at all, it was a largely a bookish undertaking, with little practical application. montreal_stolberg_2015_abstract.docx




March 18

Daniel Carpenter

"Therapeutic and Economic Effects of Efficacy-Based Drug Withdrawals: The Drug Efficacy Study Initiative and its Manifold Legacies"

The empirical study of pharmaceutical regulation institutions has been marked by the confusion of safety-related policy interventions and efficacy-based policy interventions. As a result, it is difficult to infer policy implications about efficacy regulation from observed institutional changes that also target safety. In this paper we examine a unique quasi-experiment in the history of American therapeutics -- the Drug Efficacy Study Implementation (DESI) of 1968 to 1970, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed hundreds of widely used drugs -- all of them judged “safe” under the law prevailing from 1938 to 1962 -- from the American marketplace on the basis of efficacy judgments alone. We examine the cross- therapeutic distribution of these market removals, using them as predictors of two downstream variables of interest: (a) pharmaceutical “innovation” (measured by the number of new molecular entities produced in an area), and (b) therapeutic effects (measured by mortality aggregates in the therapeutic area). Preliminary results are reported for the mortality data, and suggest that the withdrawals were associated with differentially reduced mortality in the 15-20 years following. In our simplest fixed-effects panel regressions, a doubling of DESI withdrawals is associated with a 15-24 percent reduction in mortality in the same therapeutic area 12 years later. We discuss potential threats to causal inference, but note that such findings would be inconsistent with libertarian theories of pharmaceutical regulation. Our essay also poses the possibility of highly concrete and tangible effects from standardization regimes, and highlights how these regimes are deeply connected to forms of gatekeeping and directive power of regulators.  daniel_carpenter-_march_18_2015_poster.pdf

March 25

David Reubi

"Epidemiological Reason – Epidemiologists, Philanthropists and Global Health"

In this paper, I suggest that the ubiquity of regimes of quantification, counting practices, metrics and numbers in contemporary global health comes from the way in which the field has been shaped by epidemiological styles of reasoning – grids of intelligibility and action articulated around theories, techniques and institutions that stem from epidemiology and related bodies of knowledge. In contrast to much of the literature on the subject, which focuses on the shortcomings of epidemiological reason, the paper draws attention to the productive dimension of epidemiologists and epidemiological knowledge by showing how they contribute to the production of new forms of government and accountability of life. Furthermore, eschewing the often vague and facile association of epidemiological reason with neoliberal theories and audit culture found in much of the literature, the paper also seeks to emphasise the rather more complex genealogy of this thought style. To do this, the article focuses on the efforts of the Bloomberg and Gates foundations to address the smoking epidemic in the developing world, which I have been researching over the last few years.

April 9

Joao Biehl



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