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For a week starting 23 August, Riga will become the medical history hub of the world as the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) Anatomy Museum hosts the 47th Congress of the International Society for the History of Medicine. Medical historians from 36 different countries will present approximately 220 research papers, both in person and remotely. Four of the congress’ engaging guest lectures on the history of medicine and culture will be available to the general public online. 

‘We are very pleased that the efforts of contemporary Latvian medical historians have borne fruit and that we can finally implement Professor Pauls Stradiņš’ cherished idea this year with Riga becoming the first city in the Baltic States to have the honour of gathering the world’s brightest minds in the field of medical history. Furthermore, this is a very special congress as it takes place in the framework of the centenary of the International Society for the History of Medicine,'

says Prof. Juris Salaks, President of the congress and Director of the RSU Institute of the History of Medicine.

Reports on current research in the history of medicine will be presented at the congress and there will be panel discussions on the role of gender in receiving recognition for medical excellence, as well as on medical practices under totalitarianism.

The opening ceremony will take place live on Monday, 23 August, at 18:00. From 18:45 to 19:20, the Canadian historian and haematologist Jacalyn Duffin will give a guest lecture: Stanley's Dream: Medical expedition to Easter Island. In her lecture, Duffin will talk about the efforts to document the isolated island's population before an international airport was established that exposed the island's inhabitants to diseases and to culture and societies outside the island.

On Tuesday, 24 August, from 17:00 to 17:45, German historian Nils Hansson will hold his lecture: How (not) to win the Nobel Prize: Winners and losers in the history of the Nobel Prize. Hansson will talk about the often-forgotten award candidates and the reasons why they have not gone beyond a nomination.

On Wednesday, 25 August, from 17:00 to 17:45, Alexander Lucas Bieri, the curator of the Roche Historical Collection and Archive, will talk about the impact of anatomical knowledge on the Danse Macabre artistic genre in his lecture The long-standing influence of Andreas Vesalius on the art genre Danse Macabre.

On Friday, 27 August, from 10:00 to 10:45, English historian Dan Healey will present a study on diaries written by doctors and nurses working in the Soviet prison system, as well as the relationship between the imprisoned patients and doctors in his lecture Notes from the Gulag doctors: Medical care in Stalin's camps.

The opening ceremony and lectures will be available live online on the congress’ website as well as on the RSU Anatomy Museum’s Facebook page.

The congress is organised by the Latvian Association of Medical Historians in cooperation with RSU and Pauls Stradiņš Medicine History Museum.

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