Dr James Stark

Dr James Stark


I joined Leeds in 2008 as a doctoral researcher after undergraduate and postgraduate study at Cambridge and Manchester respectively. Following this I spent a year as an AHRC-funded Knowledge Transfer Fellow before undertaking a three-year postdoctoral Fellowship associated with the Arts Engaged project. In 2015 I was appointed University Academic Fellow for Medical Humanities, being promoted to Associate Professor in 2017.

In 2016 I was jointly awarded the Royal Society's Notes and Records Essay Prize for my paper on Arthur Koestler and anti-reductionism in biology, and in 2014 I received First Prize in the Young Scholars Award Competition by the World Association for the History of Veterinary Medicine for an essay examining the international network of anthrax research between Britain, France and Australia in the late nineteenth century.

I was Chair of the Outreach and Education Committee of the British Society for the History of Science (2013-17) and have spent time as a visiting researcher at the University of Hong Kong (November 2013) and the University of Sydney (April 2014).

In 2014-15 I was a member of the New Generations in Medical Humanities training programme, supported by the AHRC and Wellcome Trust. In 2015 I was appointed to the AHRC Peer Review College and since June 2017 I have held the role of Reviews Editor for the British Journal for the History of Science. In 2018 I was nominated for the inaugural AHRC/Wellcome Health Humanities Medal and I am also an Associate Director of water@leeds, one of the largest interdisciplinary water research group in the world, with particular responsibility for impact and partnership working. I am currently leading the development of research in medical humanities as part of the cross-institutional Culture Theme, as part of which I am Co-Director of the Centre for Medical Humanities.

I would be delighted to receive enquiries from prospective research students or fellow researchers interested in any aspects of the history of medicine and the biological sciences in the nineteenth or twentieth century, particularly those whose interests lie in the following areas:

  • Infectious disease and public health
  • Medical technologies
  • Transnational history of medicine
  • Visual and material culture in the history of science and medicine
  • Age, ageing and fertility


  • Head of School

Research interests

My current research focuses on the history of rejuvenation and anti-ageing in the twentieth century, exploring in particular the links between biomedical and socio-cultural approaches to ageing, vitality and beauty. This has culminated in The Cult of Youth - a monograph based on this work - to be published by Cambridge University Press in early 2020. Supported by a major AHRC Leadership Fellowship my project, Endless Possibilities of Rejuvenation (2016-18), built on a Wellcome Seed Award which brought together for the first time a cohort of researchers from across the arts and humanities to investigate the concept and practices of regeneration in medicine. My other research interests include the role of patenting and ownership in medicine and healthcare, the history of medical technologies and the history of infectious disease and public health.

My first monograph, The Making of Modern Anthrax, 1875-1920 (Pickering & Chatto, 2013), examined the appearance and social role of this deadly disease at the local, national and global levels, focusing on the international wool trade and exchange of materials, ideas and practices. I have also edited a special issue of the British Journal for the History of Science and published in field-leading journals including Medical History, Cultural & Social HistorySocial History of MedicineStudies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical SciencesMuseum and Society and Heritage and Society.

I am leading a digital humanities project - Eating Yourself Young - funded by the British Academy and JISC, exploring perceptions and practices of nutrition before the advent of vitamin science, and am a co-investigator on a UKRI Network Plus - Emerging Minds - which addresses present-day challenges of mental health in children and young people. I am also currently leading the historical strand of an AHRC-funded interdisciplinary project - Lifting the Lid - co-designing new graphic interventions to encourage handwashing amongst primary school children. I was co-investigator on an recently-completed AHRC network, Exploring Histories and Futures of Innovation in Advanced Wound Care, bringing together researchers from diverse disciplines to explore the development and history of advanced wound care. I led a collaborative project with the Science Museum as part of Digital Tools in the Service of Difficult Heritage, working with groups of veterans to explore how the use of digital tools can reimagine our relationship with challenging histories of physical and mental impairment.

I have held grants as Principal Investigator from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Wellcome Trust, Leeds Social Sciences Institute, Scientific Instrument Society, and the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. I have also collaborated extensively with the Thackray Medical Museum and a diverse range of other non-academic partners, including the Science MuseumBootsNational TrustLeeds Museums and Galleries, and Marks & Spencer.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD History of Medicine (University of Leeds)
  • MSc History of Science, Technology and Medicine (University of Manchester)
  • MA Natural Sciences (University of Cambridge)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Student education

My teaching activities span the history of science, technology and medicine from the sixteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, including courses on the introduction to history of science and the role of objects in historical enquiry. I offer dissertation supervision for Level 3 students in the history of modern medicine and science, and several of my former undergraduate students have gone on to complete doctoral research of their own.

In addition, I currently supervise five doctoral students whose research covers a wide range of topics related to medicine and medical science from around 1850 to the present, including the histories of orthopaedics, nutrition and public health, and medical advertising.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for History and Philosophy of Science
  • Centre for Medical Humanities
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://production2.leeds.ac.uk/phd">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>