Brian Dolan, PhD

Phone: 415-514-0461
Fax: 415-476-6715

Director: Graduate Studies, History of Health Sciences
Director: University of California Medical Humanities Consortium


B.A., University of Florida (1992), magna cum laude
Ph.D., Cambridge University (1995)
Assistant Professor, Umea University, Sweden (1995-6)
Assistant Professor, University College, London/Wellcome Center for the History of Medicine (1996-7)
Wellcome Fellow, Cambridge University (1997-8)
Assistant Professor, University of East Anglia, Norwich (1998-2001)
Assistant Adjunct Professor, Birkbeck College, University of London (2001-2002)
Associate Adjunct Professor, UCSF (2002-2006)
Professor, UCSF (2006- )

Dr. Brian Dolan is Professor of Medical Humanities and Vice-Chair in the Department of Anthropology, History & Social Medicine in the School of Medicine at UCSF.

He is Director of the UC Medical Humanities Consortium, linking research and activities among faculty and students in medical centers at UCSF, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and UC Irvine.

He is founder and managing editor of the UC Medical Humanities Press, which has published over 16 books since 2011 and has helped establish an international peer-review publishing community advancing scholarship in the medical humanities.

Personal Narrative

As an undergraduate at the University of Florida, Dr. Dolan began the study of evolutionary biology and pursued research following Professor Jane Brockmann’s work on animal behavior in the Department of Zoology. As part of his biological studies and on Brockmann’s recommendation, he read Richard Dawkins’s books, The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype, which stimulated his interest in science communication and the discipline of the history and philosophy of science. In his junior year he began working with Professor Robert A. Hatch and graduated with highest honors in the Program for the History of Science, Technology & Medicine, with a double-major in English.

Dr. Dolan attended Cambridge University and received his PhD in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. His dissertation work examined the evolution of science education, natural history collections, and scientific expeditions. As a Wellcome-funded post-doc at Cambridge, he researched the history of medical botany and early techniques of pharmaceutical instruction in medical education.

Since arriving at UCSF in 2002, Dr. Dolan has turned his attention to developing new courses for a medical humanities curriculum, and he teaches medical students in the Essential Core of the curriculum, including the longitudinal course “Foundations of Patient Care.” As part of the learning curve for examining contemporary issues in the health sciences, Dr. Dolan participated in a number of innovative professional training opportunities afforded by UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and the Training in Clinical Research (TICR) programs. To improve the content and level of instruction from within the social sciences aimed at medical and science students and graduates, he has studied the essential core medical curriculum and has worked with the deans of medical education on the uses of humanities research in residency programs.

These activities attempt to create new dialogues and complementary research projects between the social and biomedical sciences which will lead, it is hoped, to more “clinically relevant” outcomes from research in the medical humanities and social sciences, as well as a well-defined model of instruction for medical and science students concerned with the manifestation of biomedical knowledge beyond the walls of the clinic or lab.

Having had the opportunity to explore some of the world’s best archives, his desire to write for a wide audience has resulted in a number of monographs in British and European social history, the origins of an intriguing American musical technology- the player piano (and its links with early digital recording technologies), as well as histories of medical education, and histories of clinical disciplines, including neurosurgery and (currently) urology.

Visit Dr. Dolan’s PERSONAL WEBSITE for his academic gallery of books, articles, and more.

Contact Information
Anthropology, History & Social Medicine
3333 California St.
Suite 485
San Francisco, CA 94143-0850


Last modified: June 7, 2016