AIHP Awards Two 2020 PhD Thesis Support Grants

Barbara di Gennaro Splendore
2020 AIHP PhD Thesis Support Grant Recipient Barbara Di Gennaro

AIHP has awarded PhD thesis support grants to Barbara Di Gennaro, a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Yale University, and to Jacob Green, a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at UCLA. Each was awarded $2,000 to fund research for their dissertations.

Ms. Di Gennaro is working on a dissertation currently entitled “The State Drug: The Politics of Theriac in Early Modern Italy.” Theriac was one of the most widely-used drugs for many centuries—prescribed for ailments ranging from toothaches to the plague—but is now generally regarded as a fabled panacea. Ms. Di Gennaro’s dissertation explores use of theriac in Italian city states between 1500 and the early 1800s and shows how it became a political tool to support the existing social order and enhance state building. The dissertation also traces the diffusion of theriac as a commodity in parallel with developments of medical thought about theriac and with the dissemination of  knowledge about the compound among patients through apothecary prints.

Ms Di Gennaro will use the grant to fund additional research in Italy during the summer of 2020. She expects to finish her PhD program within the next year. 

Mr. Green’s dissertation, currently entitled “Recreation, Mysticism, and Anesthesia in the 19th Century,” explores the relationship between the discovery of anesthesia, non-therapeutic use of anesthetic drugs, and nineteenth-century spirituality. Mr. Green is investigating how the nineteenth-century practice of inhaling nitrous oxide and ether for their pleasurable effects led to the discovery of their pain-relieving properties and ultimately inspired the discovery of anesthesia by doctors and dentists. His dissertation also explores how the recreational use of these drugs to induce altered states of consciousness and mystical experiences influenced nineteenth-century religion and philosophy. Mr. Green hopes his dissertation will shed light on how pharmaceuticals can affect medicine and society when used outside their intended therapeutic context.

Mr. Green will use the grant to fund archival research. He expects to finish his PhD program in 2024.

The AIHP PhD Thesis Support Grant program encourages academic research of pharmaco-historical topics by doctoral candidates by offering grants-in-aid up to $2,000 to support historical investigations of some aspect of pharmacy. Any dissertation or thesis project devoted to the history of pharmacy, history of drugs, or other humanistic study utilizing a pharmaco-historical approach, is eligible. Recipients of the grant must provide a report to AIHP on the research within one year after receiving the grant money. Grant recipients must also agree to submit a paper based on their thesis project or dissertation for consideration for publication in Pharmacy in History within two years of receiving the grant.

AIHP has awarded more than 40 PhD thesis support grants over the past 25 years. More information about the AIHP Ph.D. Thesis Support Grant and past recipients of the grant is available on the Institute’s webpage.

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