- ‘The Birth of Insulin – a Scientific Drama’ – Interview for BBC History Magazine podcast – broadcast 31st May 2022
- Insulin: the Discovery That Transformed Diabetic Care – a discussion with fellow guests Alison Li and Viktor Jörgens on ‘The Forum’, BBC World Service, broadcast on 26th May 2022
- ‘Unravelling the story of insulin – ‘Game of Thrones’ except with lab coats and pipettes – Interview with Andrew Vine of The Yorkshire Post 26th May 2022
- How Insulin Changed the World…Interview with presenter Sean Moncrieff on NewsTalk Radio in Ireland 11th March 2022
- Why did winning the 1923 Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin leave Canadian scientist Fred Banting…utterly furious? – Interview with Canadian Talk Radio 630 CHED AM – 14th Jan 2022
- What lessons does the story of insulin have for us today? – Interview with ‘The Times’ Radio 11th Jan 2022
- One hundred years since the discovery of insulin – a medical milestone – Interview with ‘Naked Scientists’ podcast on BBC5Live – 5th Jan 2022
Dr Kersten Hall
- Position: Visiting Fellow
- Areas of expertise: History of molecular biology; discovery and development of insulin; early work on DNA molecule by W.T.Astbury and Florence Bell; discovery of X-ray crystallography; Gregor Mendel and genetics
- Email: K.T.Hall@leeds.ac.uk
- Website: Twitter | LinkedIn
After studying as an undergraduate in biochemistry at St. Anne's College, Oxford, I came to the University of Leeds in 1993 to undertake a PhD in molecular biology.
On completion of my PhD I worked as a post-doctoral research fellow in molecular biology in the School of Medicine from 1997 - 2005 before studying for a Masters degree in History and Philosophy of Science.
I am now a Visiting Fellow in the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science where my research focusses on a range of topics including the discovery and development of insulin, the unravelling of the structure of DNA, and the origins of modern genetics.
Insulin – the Crooked Timber: a History From Thick Brown Muck to Wall Street Gold (Oxford University Press, 2022)
Published to mark the centenary of the discovery of insulin, this book explores the monstrous egos and toxic career rivalries that surrounded this medical milestone and reveals how research into the chemistry of wool proved to be crucial in transforming insulin to become the first pharmaceutical to be made using genetic engineering. The book was featured on a list of ‘picks of the week’ in the journal Nature and has also been the subject of a number of interviews:
The Man in the Monkeynut Coat: William Astbury and How Wool Wove a Forgotten Road to the Double-Helix (Oxford University Press, 2014)
My previous book explores the life and work of scientific pioneer William Astbury who, with his research assistant Florence Bell, made the very first attempt to solve the structure of DNA using X-rays. Although this achievement paved the way for the later work of the scientist Rosalind Franklin, and the discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule by James Watson and Francis Crick, tne names of Astbury and Bell have largely been forgotten. When it was first published in 2014, the book was shortlsted for the 2015 British Society for the History of Science Dingle Prize as well as being included on a 'Books of 2014' list by a reviewer at 'The Guardian' newspaper and a list of recommended reading to accompany an edition of the BBC Radio 4 series 'In Our Time'. The book will be released as a revised paperback edition later this year with new material.
Gregor Mendel – a New Translation: Together with Professor Staffan Mueller-Wille (University of Cambridge) (Masaryk University Press, 2020)
I have also co-authored a new translation from German into English of the seminal 1865 paper 'Experiments on Plant Hybrids' by Gregor Mendel - which is today widely hailed as being the foundation of modern genetics. This translation and accompanying commentary was supported by the British Society for the History of Science and first appeared on their website before its publication as a book by the Masaryk University Press.
Recent Online Articles
- ‘The Discovery of Insulin – a Story of Monstrous Egos and Toxic Career Rivalries’ – ‘The Conversation, January 2022
- ‘Florence Bell – the ‘Housewife’ Who Played a Key Part in Our Understanding of DNA’ – ‘The Conversation’, January 2022
- ‘The Real Story of Insulin and My Diagnosis With Type 1 Diabetes at Age 42’ – Diabetes UK, March 2022
- 'Public Lecture on History and Philosophy of Science in 20 Objects - the Astbury Camera'
- Did William Astbury take Photo 51 before Rosalind Franklin?
- What is the double-helical structure of DNA and who was William Astbury?
- "From Dark Satanic Mills to DNA" - public lecture given at the Bragg Centenary Celebration, University of Leeds, February 2013
- 'Florence Bell - a PhD Student with X-ray Vision' - 2018
- 'Florence Bell - the Other Dark Lady of DNA?' - British Society for the History of Science - 2017
- 'Mendel's Martyrs' - British Society for the History of Science - 2017
- 'Forgotten Hero of DNA's Discovery', Letters, 'The Guardian', Fri 18th Sept, 2015
- 'The X-ray Visionary Who Faded From View' - Oxford Today, 2015
- 'Drops No More - New Blood Sugar Sensor’
- 'The Man in the Monkeynut Coat' - Leeds Big Bookend Festival
- 'Science Book a Day interviews Kersten Hall' ScienceBookaDay, 5th December 2014
- Watson and Crick took all the glory but there's a forgotten hero of the double helix', The Conversation, 3rd July 2014
- 'The Man in the Monkeynut Coat and the Men in the Yellow Jerseys', OUP blog, 28th June, 2014
- 'Celebrating the work of a neglected scientific pioneer', University of Leeds, 17th June, 2014
- BA Honours Biochemistry, University of Oxford
- PhD, University of Leeds
- MA, University of Leeds
- The British Society for the History of Science
- The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society
- The Society of Authors