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Charité Historian Receives ERC Advanced Grant
20 March 2012
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Medical historian Prof. Volker Hess has been awarded the Advanced Investigator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) endowed with approximately 2.5 million euro, as the third Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin scientist to have received this award. Prof. Hess, the director of the Institute for the History of Medicine, was distinguished for his research endeavor “Ways of Writing. How Physicians Know, 1550–1950”. This project examines the function and meaning of various forms of writing in the development of medical knowledge. In a threefold approach, the medical system of record keeping is analyzed—from the Early Modern up to the most recent past. Together with his colleague Dr. Andrew Mendelsohn from the Imperial College in London, Prof. Hess designed the study to be multiperspectival and transnational. In this way differences and similarities in medical documentation between Italy, Great Britain, France and Germany are visible.
Comprehensive analysis also incorporates other forms of reporting, documentation and logging that flow systematically into the note-taking system. This includes, for example, legal assessments, local administrative requirements, and not least hospital bureaucracy. But here as well, material and medial sources of medical knowledge emerge. “Our research endeavor addresses the question concerning the relationship between form and content of medical documentation. It is always about the transmission of medical knowledge,” emphasizes Prof. Hess. Support from the European Research Council enables a team of seven scientists to pursue the question of medical documentation in European cultural history. The European Research Council awards the ERC Advanced Investigator Grant to excellent and experienced scientists who are not only active in their field of research, but who are also already established. When assessing scientific achievement, focus is placed on the last ten years in particular, during which researchers should have delivered outstanding performance.