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Biography

Caitjan Gainty is a historian of twentieth century medicine and technology. She received her PhD in History from the University of Chicago in 2012 and joined the staff at King’s in 2013. Dr. Gainty is particularly interested in the systematisation of medicine and health care, and her current project investigates the peripatetic history of the concept of efficiency as it developed within the context of 20th century American medicine. She has also worked extensively on medical films and filmmaking in the 20th century and is in the midst of a project about the impact of filmmaking on neurology practices in the early 20th century. Dr. Gainty has worked to apply her historical research to contemporary problems in health care, partnering in this with medical practitioners, philosophers, and policy-makers to examine the ways in which medicine’s history can usefully impact current and future health care decision-making processes.

Research interests

  • History of medicine
  • American 20th century cultural history
  • History of medical filmmaking, architecture and material culture
  • Bioethics, Health Law and the Medical Humanities

Caitjan Gainty’s research interests lie in the history of film, medicine, science and American culture, and in the structure and constitution of medical systems both historical and current. Her work falls partially into the category of health policy, though taken from a historical perspective. She is also interested in the history of medical performance and surgical simulation and modelling, medical aesthetics, the culture of patient-hood, and the conjoined recent histories of bioethics and the medical humanities. She has done work on the peculiar history of resuscitation in the US and UK and has worked with medical practitioners on questions concerning the constitution and reconstitution of life and death as medical/cultural concepts through history to today. In addition to these topics, she is interested in the history of the natural world and the relationship between technology and culture and would be particularly pleased to work with students whose projects transgress traditional disciplinary, thematic, topical, and methodological lines.

Teaching

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 and the environment. She has also taught on the histories of American culture, technology and medicine; bioethics; cardiac arrest and the heart; and medical films and filmmaking, among others.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Dr. Gainty has worked on many projects with implications for health care today; she has worked with health care practitioners and other medical scholars on projects concerned with the impact of the increasing digitisation of health care in the UK and, in another project, with the training of medical practitioners to “see” their patients. She has also lent her historical expertise to work thinking about the ramifications of infections in the surgical environment and the relationship between austerity and health care.

Dr. Gainty has written about the need to radically transform the UK healthcare system amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Times: To understand the future of healthcare, listen to Henry Ford. 

The Independent: Why are we fighting Coronavirus with 100-year-old tech? 

The Times: Being Seen as an NHS hero comes at a cost

The Guardian: How humans have reacted to pandemics through history 

A piece for Associated Press appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, ABC News and more: Reverence for Britain's NHS complicates supply shortages 

And in 2019 Dr Gainty wrote about Why Medicare isn't the ultimate solution for healthcare  for the Washington Post.