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Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences

Introduction to Programs

UCLA Programs in Medical Classics, now in its 25th year, is a series of presentations designed to enhance an appreciation of the links among famous medical writings, clinical practice, basic research, and humanistic scholarship. These meetings bring together a convivial group of individuals of scholarly tastes--both from the community and from UCLA faculty, students, and staff--for a lecture and an opportunity to discuss and examine texts and topics that embody the history of medicine, as well as the relations of medicine to broader cultural settings.

There is no charge for the lectures. Evening programs convene at 6:00 pm in the UCLA Faculty Center and will be followed by wine and softdrinks, conversation, and an opportunity to examine rare books and other items pertaining to each lecture. An optional dinner with the speakers, at $22 per person, will take place in the Faculty Center about 7:30 pm. An advance reservation is required for dinner; reservations may be made by calling 310.825.6940.   Other programs meet as indicated.

UCLA Programs in Medical Classics

Past Programs in Medical Classics

Powder and Lipstick Were on Just So: The Ideal Woman, Perceptions of Labor Pain, and the Use of Obstetric Anesthesia

October 16, 2007
UCLA Faculty Center

Jacqueline Wolf, Ph.D.
Professor of Social Medicine, Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Introduction by Mary Terrall, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of History, UCLA

In the 1970s the lay press celebrated natural childbirth as invigorating and transforming. Today attitudes are starkly different: newspapers and magazines ridicule natural childbirth as “an extreme sport” and urge women to opt for an epidural. How do medical and social approaches to labor change so radically in one generation? In these talks, Professor Wolf will examine the history of medical and social views of labor pain and corresponding changes in the use of obstetric anesthesia and link those changes to broad contemporary social concerns and the cultural perception of women. 


The Architecture of Healing

November 16-17, 2007
Neuroscience Research Building Auditorium, UCLA
635 Charles E. Young Drive South

An International Conference at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA,
celebrating the opening of the new Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

  • The Origins of the Hospital
    • Early Christian Hospitals: Caring and Curing
    • Bimaristan, the Islamic Hospital: Innovation and Tradition
  • The Commitment to Care v. The Commitment to Knowledge
    • Principles and Methods of Clinical Research
    • How Technology has Shaped Clinical Research at the Bedside
    • The Patient in Clinical Research: Revisiting the Barney Clark Case
  • Reception in the Rare Book Room, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library
  • From Hospice to Health Care
    • An Illustrated History of Hospital Architecture
    • Convergence of Art, Science and Technology: The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
  • Guided Tours of the new Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
  • Printable PDF version of Program and Map/Directions (4 pages)

Programs in Medical Classics, Winter-Spring 2008

The Notorious Saenger Case: What Does It Tell Us About Post-World War II Medical Research Practices and Clinical Conduct

Gerald Kutcher, Ph.D.
Dean's Professor of the History of Medicine, The State University of New York at Binghamton

Tuesday, April 29
5 p.m.

During the 1960s, the physician Eugene Saenger treated patients with advanced cancers while he also used them as proxy soldiers for military research. For some critics, the Saenger case is paradigmatic of unethical research. Yet, the case has remained controversial and without closure for almost forty years. In this paper, I will argue that the Saenger case has survived so long in part because his research shared so much with normal post-war investigations and therefore that the case can be used as a lens to reveal the research practices and clinical conduct of that period.

This program is co-sponsored by the UCLA Healthcare Ethics Center

Printable PDF version of April announcement

First Floor Conference Room, 1357
Gonda (Goldschmied) Neuroscience and Genetics Research Center


Genetic Screening is not Eugenics and It Never Was

Ruth Schwartz Cowan, Ph.D.
Janice and Julian Bers Professor of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania

Thursday, May 15
4 p.m.

Introduction: Edward R.B. McCabe, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Pediatrics and Human genetics, and Bioengineering; Mattel Executive Endowed Chair of Pediatrics and Physician-in-Chief, Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA

This program is co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for Society and Genetics

Printable PDF version of May announcement

First Floor Conference Room, 1357
Gonda (Goldschmied) Neuroscience and Genetics Research Center


Contested Wills: The Medico-legal Aspects of Acquired Language Disorders in Victorian England

Marjorie Perlman Lorch, Ph.D.
Reader in Brain and Language, Birkbeck College, University of London

Tuesday, February 5 
6 p.m.

Discussant: William M. McGovern, LL.B.
Professor of Law, Emeritus, UCLA

In the second half of the 19th century several areas of theoretical development and evolving practice can be seen to converge in the civil court cases of contested wills. The determination of being of sound mind required by law was being challenged at this time by new clinical distinctions between intelligence and understanding, language and thought, speech and expression in people with neurological diseases. The emerging diagnostic categories of aphasia and dementia were being developed in the newly created fields of neurology and psychiatry. At the same time jurisprudence was developing in the newly founded Probate Courts which were formed to deal with the large volume of cases regarding will-making. Physicians were being called upon as expert witnesses with increasing frequency to aid in the determination of testamentary capacity. The development of ideas on language and thought in Victorian England is revealed in the medical and judicial opinions recorded in court reports on the ability of people with language and memory disorders to make wills. 

UCLA Faculty Center