Though not a doctor herself, cultural anthropologist Margaret Lock is having a profound effect on the practice of medicine. Lock, the Marjorie Bronfman Professor in the Social Studies in Medicine at McGill, studies the relationship between emerging scientific knowledge with social factors such as culture, tradition and politics. Her award-winning book Encounters with Aging: Mythologies of Menopause in Japan and North America used that approach to change how the condition is perceived in a clinical context. The Medical Anthropology Journal called it "a brilliant contribution not only to medical anthropology but also to gerontology and feminist theory. . . unfailingly literate, incisive, and passionate."
Her follow-up book, Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death examines the creation of the concept of "brain death” that allows organs to be harvested for donation.
When awarding Lock the prestigious Molson Prize in 2002, the Canada Council of the Arts said, "Her remarkable work is at the heart of our understanding of current issues and preoccupations of the highest importance to society. She has applied her immense intellectual resources to the study of the human body, to life and death and to their relationship to technology and biotechnology."
Lock has written over 170 articles, and has received several awards, including the Wellcome Medal of Britain's Royal Anthropological Society. In 2005 she was awarded both a Killam Prize and Trudeau Foundation Fellowship.