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Research Interests

I have been teaching the history of medicine for many years, so I am interested in everything from classical to mediaeval medicine to bacteriology — an undergraduate course is a great cultural formation!   But my background in modern medicine, especially immunology and genetics has determined my research interests, which include the history of immunology, genetics and eugenics. My current project is in the history of standardisation, on the science and politics of the League of Nations Health Organisation and its standardisation commission, 1920-1950. After publishing some separate papers, I am now working on a monograph on the subject, as well as mentoring some of our graduate students who are also interested in it.


Eugenics, Human Genetics and Human Failings: the Eugenics Society, its Sources and its Critics (London: Routledge, 1992)

Species and Specificity: an Interpretation of the History of Immunology (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1995), based on my thesis “Karl Landsteiner and the problem of species,” (Johns Hopkins 1976)

The Eugenics Movement: an International Perspective 6 vols (London: Routledge, 2007) A collection of primary sources with translations by the author/editor

“Blood and soil: the serology of the Aryan racial state,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine (1990) 64:187-219.

“Two models for human genetics: blood grouping and psychiatry in Germany between the World Wars,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine (1996) 70:609-657.

“ “In the silence of the laboratory:” the League of Nations standardises syphilis tests,” Social History of Medicine (2003) 16:437-459.

“Antitoxin and anatoxine: the League of Nations and the Pasteur Institute,” in Kenton Kroker, Jennifer Keelan and Pauline M. H. Mazumdar eds, Crafting Immunology: Working Histories of Immunology in Practice (in press, 2007).


  • Brigit Ramsingh, “International standards: agriculture, trade and food safety,” Ph.D. 2011.
  • Delia Gavrus, “Specialisation, standardisation and the history of neurosurgery,” Ph.D. 2011.
  • Patricia Liu, “Prion diseases: theory, safety and public health policy,” Ph.D. 2011.
  • Ted Everson, “Genetics and Health in Context: the Political Economy of Public Health Genomics,” Ph.D., 2006.
  • Jennifer Keelan, “Smallpox vaccination: theory, practice and debate in Ontario and Quebec,” Ph.D. 2004.
  • Galina Kichigina, “The work of the Russian physiologist I. I. Sechenov,” Ph.D. 2002.
  • Kevin Siena, “Gender, poverty and venereal disease in Early Modern Britain,” Ph.D. 2000.
  • Kenton Kröker, “History of the scientific investigation of dreams,” Ph.D. 2000.
  • Geoffrey Reaume, “The Toronto Asylum for the Insane 1850-1950,” Ph.D. 1997.
  • Faye M. Getz, “An edition of the Middle English Gilbertus Anglicus, found in Wellcome ms 537,” Ph.D. 1981

Contact Information

  • Personal Title: Professor Emeritus
  • E-mail address: pmazumda@chass.utoronto.ca