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On 28 February 2013, the ESF-DRUGS networking programme officially came to an end.  Over the next two years the final publications projects of the network will be realized; however, no new meetings or exchange grants will be offered.  The Chair Volker Hess and the Programme Coordinator Brigit Ramsingh would like to thank the ESF, the ESF-DRUGS network members across Europe and its community of supporters and collaborators worldwide for their hard work over the past five years. 




The ESF-DRUGS Research Networking Programme is coming to an end.  We are celebrating with a final two day conference in Berlin 20-22 February 2013 where we will look back at the results of our research whilst also looking ahead to future areas of collaboration.  Please see programme flyer here.


6/7 December: STand Ex: Standard Exchanges Programme


More information:



29/30 November: DRUGS AND COLD WAR.


Venue: Section of History of Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome –
Viale dell’Università 34/a, 00185 Rome.




Is This the End? 

The Eclipse of the Therapeutic Revolution  Programme

October 4-6, 2012, University of Zurich, Switzerland

The Institute and Museum of the History of Medicine, University of Zurich, Switzerland

will host an international conference of the European Science Foundation’s research network 

“DRUGS”. The conference will be held from October 4-6, 2012 in Zurich in conjunction with

the Competence Centre for the History of Knowledge (ETH Zurich and University of Zurich).


More information here: 



The program for the "Drugs and the Birth of Scientific Marketing" workshop is ready and available to download here.

4-5 June 2012, Berlin Medizinhistorische Museum, Charité Universitätsmedizin.  



CfP:POLITICS AND DRUGS. Pharmaceutical research and drug management in Post-WWII and Cold War Europe. Rome, 29-30 November 2012. 

Venue: Section of History of Medicine, University of Rome La Sapienza.

Download the Call for Proposals



CfP: Animal Models, Model Animals? Meanings and Practices in the History
of the Biomedical Sciences.

Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM),
University of Manchester (UK), Friday 21st September 2012.

Download the Call for Proposals


CfP: "Drugs and the birth of scientific marketing"

Berlin, June 4th-5th, 2012

Call for proposals


Changes to the ESF Guidelines for Research Networking Programs (RNPs)



Standards and drug use outside the pharmacy.
Conference to be held in Lyon, France; 15, 16, 17 December 2011.

Call for Proposals

Download the Program


Gendered Drug Standards: Historical and Socio-anthropological perspectives

University of Granada, 28-30 November 2011.

Call for Proposals

Download the flyer

Download the Program


"Beyond the Magic Bullet: Reframing the History of Antibiotics"

Workshop 17-19 March 2011, Oslo, Norway

Organisers: Christoph Gradmann (Oslo) and Flurin Condrau (Zurich)

Download the Program


Drugs, Standards and the Practices of Globalization, To be held in Paris December 9-11, 2010.

An International Conference of the ESF DRUGS Program organized by CERMES 3 (Centre de Recherches Médecine, Sciences, Santé et Société) with the support of Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.

Download the Program


The first ESF DRUGS Preprint Circulation of Antibiotics: Journeys of Drug Standards, 1930-1970 is now available.  Download it here.


Harmonizing Drugs. Standards in 20th Century Pharmaceutical History Edited by Christian Bonah, Christophe Masutti, Anne Rasmussen and Jonathan Simon.  The volume based on our opening conference in Strasbourg is ready. 

Order here


Evaluating and Standardizing Therapeutic Agents, 1890-1950, Edited by: Christoph Gradmann, Jonathan Simon is now available.  Order here.



Ways of Regulating: Therapeutic Agents between Plants, Shops, and Consulting Rooms. Eds. Jean Paul Gaudillière and Volker Hess (=Preprint 363). Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin 2008. 

Download Preprint






"DRUGS" is a Research Networking Programme of the European Science Foundation (Standing Committee for the Humanities). It aims the analysis of processes of standardization in the development, regulation, marketing, and use of modern pharmaceuticals.

Why standardization?

Using the theme of standardization, applied both to objects and practices, the network proposes to explore the development of twentieth-century medicine by looking at the production, distribution, prescription and consumption of major classes of therapeutic agents, such as sulfa-drugs, hormones, and psycho-active drugs. The aim is to evaluate the contribution of industrial, administrative and clinical standardization to the 'therapeutic revolution' (1920-1990) in which a series of 'miracle' drugs changed the face of Western medicine.


Rather than taking twentieth-century developments in the production and evaluation of drugs as 'natural' responses to a series of practical problems, we examine the evolution of industrial standards and drug trials, along with prescription and clinical practices, from a historical perspective. Thus, for example, by looking at the role played by accidents or proposed, but rejected, alternatives to standard modern practice, we aim to reveal the multiple forces that have shaped our modern medical world.


brochureThis approach takes us beyond the usual protagonists in this history - research scientists and their clinical partners - allowing important groundwork in the contextualization of this field with respect to the intervention of the state, industry, and other actors. A richer view of the context for the scientific innovation that lies behind the modern pharmaceutical industry promises to open up new perspectives in the analysis of today's health systems.
Furthermore, as standardization is a theme common to a number of disciplines, the proposed approach will open up interdisciplinary discussion allowing fruitful exchange between researchers who otherwise might not meet. Thus, we propose an international networking experience around a rich theme with a rich historical terrain, and significant contemporary interest.

Download the brochure