UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


Brendan Clarke

Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Medicine



Room 2.1, 22 Gordon Square

Office hours: Tuesdays 2.30-3.30pm, Thursdays 11.00-12.00pm (or by appointment)

ext: 37132

telephone: 0207 679 37132


YouTube channel

Current teaching

I also supervise MSc and BSc dissertations, and would particularly like to hear from students interested in work on history and philosophy of medicine (very broadly construed). Some example projects might include:

  • Roe v Wade - UK reception and general ethical-legal-policy framework for termination of pregnancy
  • Lead in petrol and violent crime - this is really intriguing, but controversial, bit of causal inference from observational studies.
  • Disputed/contested disease - like morgellons, chronic fatigue, Gulf War syndrome and co. - in the context of the definitions of disease literature
  • Contemporary work looking at the role of the autopsy in medical practice. The numbers of post-mortems is rapidly declining. Why? What are the alternatives?
  • Re-use of diagnostic tests as health MOT-type tools - epistemological issues.
  • Drawing in the teaching of anatomy - historical, comparative or conceptual study.
  • Liverworts as emerging model organisms in biology or medicine. See http://www.marchantia.org/ for information, see also e.g. Creager et al. 2007.Science Without Laws: Model Systems, Cases, Exemplary Narratives, Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.
  • Where's the causality in the Roussel Uclaf Causality Assessment Method (RUCAM)? [see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18798340 to get started]
  • Risk and Framingham charts: what's the evidence?
  • Perityphlitis and appendicitis. Changes in reference between 1900-1920.
  • Theory-ladenness of non-visual observation in medicine. Perhaps, for example, something about heart sounds and relation to disease?
  • Causal arguments in the history of paratuberculosis. This is a strange one, because an important piece of causal evidence is the absence of other pathogens.Wikipedia.
  • Decline effect and evidence-based medicine. Decline effect and recent JAMA article.
  • Intoxication from Coca-cola and aspirin: not just an urban legend. While this is now thought to be unequivocally a myth - scopes - there are historical sources (see, e.g. this from the 1930s) that appear to take this issue very seriously.
  • Venous multiple sclerosis hypothesis
  • The hygiene hypothesis, and the rise of atopic disease


I'm the liaison tutor for our two integrated BSc programmes, and the admissions tutor for our pair of MSc programmes.


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I'm interested in the history and philosophy of the life sciences. In particular:

  • viral causation of cancers (PhD topic)
  • classifications (causal or otherwise) in the life sciences
  • evidence based medicine - I'm co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project Explaining Evidence in Medicine (project website ebmplus.org)
  • history and philosophy of anatomical illustrations
  • synthetic biology

More information about my research is available here


(see also https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6159-4928)

Dr Brendan Clarke

Dr Brendan Clarke


22 Gordon Square


  • Lecturer
    Dept of Science & Technology Studies
    Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL


Award year Qualification Institution
2011 PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
History and Philosophy of Science
University College London
2007 MBBS
Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery
University College London
2006 BSc
Bachelor of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
University College London