: Professor of the History of Public Health and Principal Investigator, ‘Health Systems in History’
I hold a BA in History from the University of Essex, and a PGCE (History) and PhD (Social History) from the University of Bristol. After a lectureship at Bristol I moved to a research post with the University of Portsmouth health geography group, working on the database of British Voluntary Hospitals, 1890-1948. This was followed by a lectureship in history at the University of Wolverhampton. I joined the School in September 2003, with a Wellcome Trust University Award.
In 2003 I completed an ESRC-funded project on the history of British hospital contributory schemes (known today as health cash plans) since 1939. My subsequent Wellcome Trust research examined the coming of the British National Health Service from a regional perspective, and is entitled: ‘A mass of separate expedients?’ Hospitals, integration and the British health system, c.1930-c.1975. My broad interests lie in the history of health systems in the West since the late 19th century. Among my recent projects are: an examination of morbidity trends since 1850 using sickness insurance data; studies of the pursuit of equity in policy-making in the British NHS since the 1970s; and an analysis of public health posters in Poland, 1918-90; and a study of Medical Officer of Health reports in London in the interwar period. I am currently working on my Wellcome Trust Investigator Award ‘Health Systems in History’ – an intellectual and policy history of the health systems concept in the 20th century
: Lecturer, Department of Social and Environmental Health Research
I first joined LSHTM as part of the Anthropologies of African Biosciences Group in 2010, after doctoral research at Oxford, and research and lecturing posts at Oxford, Ulster, and KCL. Following two years in Social Anthropology at Cambridge, I returned to the Centre for History in Public Health in 2015, to work with Martin Gorsky on the Health Systems in History.
Much of my research has been on the history and anthropology of disease control. It has focused on relations between leprosy control and governance in Nigeria, on the commemoration of medical research, and on research into mycobacterial disease in Cameroon. Of direct relevance to the history of health systems and health planning, I am interested in spatial aspects of colonial and post-colonial intervention in development and medical research, looking at transnational programmes and resource-driven alliances at a local level, and also in the ways in which local and institutional memories of medical research, health planning, and clinical practice emerge or are concealed in the post-colonial state in Africa, Southeast Asia and Europe.
I am responsible for two projects within the larger programme on Health Systems in History, as project investigative lead on Project 2: ‘The Idea of a Health System: its Application in International Health Policy’, and as co-supervisor of Project 3 ‘Health systems and Development: the case of Nigeria 1946-c.2000’.
: Research Fellow, Centre for History in Public Health
I first joined LSHTM in 2011, as part of the recently formed Bloomsbury Doctoral Training Centre in the Social Sciences. My PhD, completed in January 2016, analysed the historical conditions that shaped the development of the British system of health and safety regulation in the late twentieth century. Focusing on the work of the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it explored two interlinked trends: the gradual transformation of the British state in its role as health and safety regulator, and the evolution of risk in health and safety policymaking and enforcement.
My interests as a historian are diverse: aside from health and safety at work they include the history of health systems, medicine and global health. I am also interested in digital research methodologies and the impact of new technology on historical scholarship. Before LSHTM I worked at the Wellcome Trust, and studied for a BSc in Anthropology and an MA in the History of Medicine, both from University College London (UCL).
I originally joined the ‘Health Systems in History’ project as a research assistant, providing critical input and assistance for projects 1 and 2. As a Research Fellow I now take the lead on certain aspects of project 1, such as the history of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) approach to health systems financing in the late twentieth century.
You can find out more about me and my work at chrissirrs.com.
: Research Fellow, Department of Social and Environmental Health Research
I joined LSHTM in June 2017, having completed my PhD at Victoria University of Wellington (NZ) on the history of divorce in New Zealand c.1890s – c.1950s. I also hold a BA(Hons) and MA from the University of Canterbury (NZ) in history. My MA thesis explored the history of abortion law reform in New Zealand and New South Wales in the 1970s. I was an Honorary Research Fellow in History at Birkbeck, University of London from 2012 until 2014. My research interests cover the fields of the histories of New Zealand, Britain and Australia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As well as my interest in trans-national history, health systems and welfare, I am interested in the history of sexuality and reproduction, the history of gender, the social history of families, legal history and the history of the British Empire.
Along with Martin Gorsky and Linda Bryder (University of Auckland), I am responsible for Project 4: ‘‘Progressives to laggards’? Health system reform in Britain and New Zealand, 1948-2000’.
: Research Fellow, Centre for History in Public Health
In April 2018, I became the newest member of the ‘Health Systems in History’ project. As Research Fellow, I will be carrying out a project on health systems developments, debates and implementation experiences in Colombia, c.1961-1991. I have been working in the field of global health, as an anthropologist/historian and applied/academic hybrid, since completing my PhD in Latin American history in 2008 (University of Wisconsin-Madison). My dissertation concerned the politics and practice of population control, family planning and sexual and reproductive health programmes in Bolivia, c.1964-2004. Inspired by this work, I became involved directly in global sexual and reproductive health initiatives, both as a researcher and consultant. This led to a post- doctoral research fellowship in Medical Anthropology (University of Amsterdam, Institute for Social Science Research, 2010-2014), carrying out the qualitative component of an adolescent sexual and reproductive health intervention in Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. After further consultancy work on gender and global health, and health systems strengthening, I joined the Institute of Development Studies in Brighton as part of the Accountability for Health Equity programme. One recent success has been the publication of an issue of the IDS Bulletin on ‘Accountability for Health Equity: Galvanising a Movement for Universal Health Coverage’.
Nigeria team – Project 3