"Old cases as new research objects: On biomedical uses of the past" Lara Keurk (Humboldt University of Berlin)
Egenis seminar series
Egenis seminar series. The talk scrutinizes the ways in which histological preparations and medical files of patients that died long ago have been re-used as biomedical resources. It takes the re-assessment of the first cases of Alzheimer’s disease as a case study to follow the scientists’ iterative meandering between learning from the present about the past and learning from the past about the present.
|An Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences seminar
|23 January 2017
|15:30 to 17:00
In the mid-1990s high-impact medical and scientific journals reported the rediscovery and re-diagnosis of the first cases of Alzheimer’s disease, which were originally described in 1906 and 1911. Such news provokes most historians of science to clarify that this is a Whig interpretation of history and that retrospective diagnosis is anachronistic. Justified as they are, these objections do not help us apprehend what the involved scientists hoped to answer when they started their “hunt” for old brain samples. My paper scrutinizes the ways in which histological preparations and medical files of patients that died long ago have been used as biomedical resources of particular value. I do not evaluate the researchers claims as historical ones, but ask how their “results” were applied to re-establish old cases as prototypes of Alzheimer’s disease.