Alain Touwaide Receives AIHP’s Edward Kremers Award

Alain Touwaide
Alain Touwaide in 2013. Image courtesy of Sage Ross.

AIHP has awarded the 2019 Edward Kremers Award to Alain Touwaide, PhD. A noted historian of medicine and science, Touwaide is the co-founder and current scientific director of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions. He teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles.

AIHP’s Edward Kremers Award honors the memory of Edward Kremers (1865-1941), a pioneer of American pharmaceutical education, distinguished American historian of pharmacy, and one of the founders of the Institute. The Award is given for a specific original publication, or a series of related publications, written by a citizen of the United States, pertaining to historical or historico-social aspects of pharmacy, and exhibiting the highest standards of research, interpretation, and presentation. Nominations are reviewed by AIHP’s Awards Committee.

Touwaide was nominated for the Kremers Award on the basis of his large body of published work on materia medica and pharmaceutical practice in Antiquity, Byzantium, the Arabic world, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. The nomination cited several of his publications, but special emphasis was put upon the commentary volume he authored for Tractuatus de Herbis, codex Sloane MS 4016 (Moleiro, 2013).

The manuscript Sloane 4016 is a large album of botany created in Italy some time around 1440. Although it is traditionally identified as a copy of the well-known Tractatus de herbis (Treatise on medicinal plants), it does not contain the text of this treatise, but only its illustrations with the names of the plants in the different languages used in the 15th Century.

The major question posed by this manuscript is why it abandoned the text of the Tractatus. Touwaide’s commentary offers the thesis that the botanical album served as an international work that could be used by readers of many languages (whereas the text of the original Tractatus could be used only by those who understood Latin). Touwaide’s commentary thus demonstrates the globalization of materia medica and pharmacy in the interconnected world of the late Middle Ages.

AIHP’s Awards Committee concluded that Touwaide’s publications exhibit the quality and scholarship the Edwards Kremers Award is intended to promote and recognize.

The Edward Kremers Award will be presented to Touwaide on September 6, 2019, at the 44th International Congress for the History of Pharmacy, in Washington, DC.

AIHP thanks the following members of its Awards Committee for their work in connection with the 2019 Kremers Award:  Arthur Daemmrich (Chair), Patricia Kienle, Henri Manasse, Lucas Richert and John Swann.

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