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Caitjan Gainty is a historian of twentieth century health and healthcare. After a brief stint in the world of public health research, she received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 2012 and joined the staff at King’s in 2013.

Dr. Gainty co-runs the Healthy Scepticism project, which examines the work of past and present medical critics and sceptics, activists and reformers, and those dispossessed and disenfranchised by mainstream medicine and uses these findings toward healthcare reform now. With her project co-founder Agnes Arnold-Forster, she is frequently called upon to commentate on contemporary healthcare issues, in the US and UK especially.

Dr. Gainty has also worked extensively on medical films and filmmaking, on early 20th century American healthcare, on industrial production and the history of technology, and on the history of medical therapeutics (and alternative  & complementary therapies).

Research interests

  • History of health and healthcare in the US & UK
  • Medical material culture
  • Bioethics and Health Law
  • Health scepticism, activism, hesitancy in 20th c
  • Global healthcare systems

Selected Publications

The Product of Medicine (Duke University Press, forthcoming).

“A Historical View on Health Care: A New View on Austerity?” Health Care Analysis 2019 27(3): 220-230.

“‘Items for criticism (not in sequence)’: Joseph DeLee, Pare Lorentz and The Fight for Life (1940)” British Journal for the History of Science 2017 50(3): 429-449.

“The Autobiographical Shoulder of Ernest Amory Codman: Crafting Medical Meaning in the 20th Century.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 2016 90: 394-423.

“‘Going After the High-Brows:’ Frank Gilbreth and the Surgical Subject, 1912-1917.” Representations 2012 118: 1-27.


Dr Gainty lectures in the history department on a wide variety of topics in the history of science, medicine and technology, including on the history of modern health care, the Cold War, environmental history, and the body. She also lectures occasionally in the medical school and teaches medical students in the history department. Dr. Gainty frequently invites students to contribute to ongoing projects within the larger context of ongoing health and healthcare projects. She has in the past taught on the histories of American culture, technology and medicine; bioethics; cardiac arrest and the heart; and medical films and filmmaking, among other areas.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Dr. Gainty contributes regularly to public discussions on matters of health and healthcare and their histories. She is especially interested in offering history as a substantive and methodological intervention to contemporary healthcare problems. Her work has been of particular relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic, for its discussions of vaccine hesitancy, global health and pandemic policy, and health activism. Through her Healthy Scepticism project, she has also initiated an artists-in-residence program; established a partnership with the Brixton-based organisation Centric; consulted on vaccine scepticism studies in the US and UK and launched a film festival. An exhibition based on this project will run September - December 2022 at the Science Gallery, London. Dr. Gainty was the 2021 winner of the Prof Sir Paul Curran Award for Excellence in Academic Journalism from the Conversation. Recent writing and appearances include:

Guest, “Relevant or Irrelevant”, KALA Radio, recorded 24 September 2022, airing 4 November 2022.

(With Grazia de Michele) “Biden’s Plan to ‘End Cancer’ draws from an old flawed playbook” Undark, 14 April 2022. 

(with Agnes Arnold-Forster) “Curfews have a dark history” The Conversation 28 January, 2022.

“Reversing Death: The weird history of resuscitation” The Conversation 4 November 2021. 

“How Snake Oil Got a Bad Name” The Conversation 1 September 2021.

Guest, Sunday Extra “The fascinating history of snake oil” ABC Radio Australia, 19 September 2021.

“Poop Wars: The strange history of an American obsession” Slate 23 August 2021.

The Curious History of Filming the Sneeze (BBC Ideas, 2021).

The Guardian Science Weekly Podcast, “COVID-19 vaccines: why are some people hesitant?” 22 December 2020.

(with Agnes Arnold-Forster) “The Problem with Medical History in the Age of COVID-19” Nursing Clio, 15 July 2021.

(with Agnes Arnold-Forster) “Patriotic Devotion to the NHS Hurts Patients and Staff – History Shows it Stops Much Needed Reform” inews 27 April 2021.

(with Lucas Canino) “Long Covid-19 sufferers were given a new name for the condition. Why it matters.” Washington Post 22 March 2021.

Panelist (with Rory Stewart and Saad Omer) Yale Development Dialogues, Equitable Vaccine Distribution: Insights on COVID-19 from Previous Public Health Emergencies, Yale Economic Growth Center, 9 February 2021.