Research Development Activities

Med Hum Image Launch 1

The MHRC organises and facilitates various research development activities intended to facilitate medical humanities research in Glasgow University and the broader civic context.

Research Support

MHRC offers various kinds of support to researchers in the medical humanities, including:

  • Advice on the medical humanities funding landscape, whether through ArtsLab workshops or under Centre auspices. This support has also included hosting of presentations, workshops, and 'clinics' delivered by Wellcome Trust grants officers.
  • Critical friend feedback through the Application Development Service and Workshops offered by ArtsLab, as well as through pitching workshops held under Centre auspices.
  • Mock interviews for competitions such as the Wellcome Trust Research Fellowships and University Awards
  • A dossier of successful past applications across multiple funders and schemes. Redacted documents can be made available to subsequent applicants with the permission of the original awardee.
  • Archival enhancement workshops with collections inside and outwith University of Glasgow. These workshops have used innovative formats such as 'speed dating', and encourage the use of archives for both research and public engagement.
  • Public engagement events bringing together researchers and stakeholders, as well as experts in public engagement best practice from within and outside the University.
  • Research presentation and networking events, including a yearly medical humanities symposium open to researchers across the city.
  • A Medical Humanities Discussion Group meets regularly for informal presentations and discussion of work-in-progress. As well as hosting presenters from within College of Arts & Humanities, the Discussion Group has offered an opportunity to visitors from other HEIs in Glasgow and the UK, as well Europe and North America.

Research Networking

The MHRC has run or participated in a variety of Research Networks supported by a diversity of funders, including Wellcome Trust, AHRC, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. These important activities enable us to

  • initiate and support research collaborations, including with museums and collections
  • identify and support outstanding doctoral and postdoctoral researchers
  • learn about, and shape, the cutting edge of the medical humanities
  • feed into conversations about the funding landscape for the medical humanities

From 2019-present, the MHRC (Gavin Miller, Megan Coyer, Cristin Sarg) has directed the Wellcome Trust funded Glasgow Medical Humanities Network brings together and enhances medical humanities across universities and collections in the city of Glasgow. As well as brining together researchers across the city via its directories, the Network offers regular events - particularly for early-career researchers - and a competitive Seed Scheme for small scoping awards. 

From 2014-present, the MHRC (Gavin Miller) has been a Steering Group member of the Wellcome Trust funded Northern Network for Medical Humanities, a which acts as a hub across the North of Engand and Scotland for academic researchers in the medical humanities as well as practitioners, artists and others. 

From 2016-2018, the MHRC (Gavin Miller) participated in HAIVAIRN, a network that explored the use of visualisation approaches to assist in the prevention of Healthcare Acquired Infections. The network was supported by an AHRC Research Network grant, and was directed by researchers in Glasgow School of Art

From 2015-2019, the MHRC (Megan Coyer, Gavin Miller, David Shuttleton, Hannah Tweed) directed the Wellcome Trust funded Glasgow University Medical Humanities Network via a website that acted as a forum to connect individuals working across a range of disciplines and practices at the University of Glasgow. The Network's directories have been transferred to the new city-wide Network, where they will be updated alongside new registrants.

From 2013-14, the MHRC (Gavin Miller) and the University of Edinburgh (Alette Willis, School of Health in Social Science) ran the Scottish Health Humanities Seminar and Masterclass Series funded by a Royal Society of Edinburgh award for Research Workshops in the Arts and Humanities. This project support a series of interactive masterclasses followed by a later presentation wherein leading researchers from across the United Kingdom introduced participants to the varied disciplines and methodologies of the health humanities.

In 2012, the MHRC (Gavin Miller) directed a scoping project, Debating the First Principles of Transcultural Psychiatry, supported by an AHRC Exploratory Award under the Science and Culture Theme. The project brought together a number of collaborators from different disciplines and backgrounds, and asked them to generate and reflect upon what they saw as fundamental questions for the field of transcultural psychiatry. The results are curated at the project blog

From 2011-2013, the MHRC (David Shuttleton, Gavin Miller) directed the Medical Humanities Research Network Scotland funded by a Royal Society of Edinburgh award for Research Networks in the Arts and Humanities. This foundational endeavour was a way of bringing together and consolidating medical humanities as a field within Scotland. It laid the groundwork for future networking by building a small core team of collaborators, and it began a conversation in the medical humanities through a series of workshops, symposia, and public lectures. 

Research Collections

The MHRC and affiliated researchers work in close conjunction with academic and civic collections across Glasgow, central Scotland, and the wider UK. In order to facilitate collaboration between researchers and collections, MHRC has held a variety of scoping and development workshops at a local level, including archival 'speed dating' events with University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections and with the City Archives at the Mitchell Library. A key strategic aim is to enhance collaboration and co-ordination of medical humanities research employing Glasgow and Scottish collections.

Listed below are just a few of the collections and holdings that have been promoted or investigated by the MHRC and affiliated researchers.


University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections holds substantial material in the medical humanities, including the Erskine Archive, the Cullen Papers, the Hunterian Collection, the RD Laing Collection, the Scottish Allotments Collection and Syphilis Collection. In recognition of this strength in University Collections, the MHRC Director sits on the selection committee for the University of Glasgow Visiting Research Fellows.

Glasgow Life Museums and Libraries: The City Archives, including Glasgow Corporation and Strathclyde Police Archives; Joyce Laing 'Art Extraordinary' Collection

Glasgow Women's Library

Glasgow Zine Library

Hunterian Museum: Anatomy Collection

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow: The archive, museum and library collections include material used in recent medical humanities research, including the Sir Ronald Ross Collection, and the papers of Sir William Macewen.

Scottish Jewish Archives Centre


Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh: William Cullen Papers

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh: Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn Collection

National Library of Scotland: W.R.D. Fairbairn Papers; Blackwood Papers; Papers of David Macbeth Moir; George Combe Papers

University of Edinburgh Special Collections: Winifred Rushforth Collection

Royal Medical Society, University of Edinburgh: Dissertations archive

University of Aberdeen Special Collections: Sir Alexander Ogston Collection

National Records of Scotland: Court and Legal Records

United Kingdom

Royal College of Physicians of London: Robert Ferguson Papers

King's College London Library: Archives of Dame Cicely Saunders

Wellcome Collection: Personal Papers of David Stafford-Clark; Personal Papers of Ronald A. Sandison; Adamson Collection

BBC Written Archives Centre

Bristol University Archives and Special Collections: Penguin Archive



The MHRC and its affiliates have held a number of conference at University of Glasgow, further cementing its nationally-leading status in the medical humanities.

The 2020 British Academy funded conference Representing Women's Health (Anna McFarlane) was an innovative one-day virtual conference held as part of the Products of Conception project.

The 2018 British Academy/Leverhulme Trust funded conference Writing Recoveries: International Conference for Writing Interventions for Mental Health (Carolyn Jess-Cooke) offered a three-day international exploration of research in the field of creative writing in therapeutic contexts.

The 2017 Wellcome Trust funded conference Other Psychotherapies (Gavin Miller, Ross White, Cheryl McGeachan and Sophia Xenophontos) brought contemporary Western expertise into dialogue with psychotherapeutic approaches from ‘other’ spatially, historically or otherwise ‘distant’ culture. It will lead to a forthcoming special issue of the field-leading journal Transcultural Psychiatry.

The 2016 Wellcome Trust funded conference Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities (Gavin Miller and Anna McFarlane) concluded the research project of the same name, and led to a special issue of the field leading journal BMJ Medical Humanities

The 2016 Disability and Shakespearean Theatre conference (Hannah Tweed and Susan Anderson [Leeds Trinity University]) was supported by the British Shakespeare Association. The conference discussed the depiction, treatment, and uses of disability in Shakespeare’s work (and that of his contemporaries) alongside analysis of the role of disability in staging of his plays.

The 2016 Wellcome Trust funded conference Discourses of Care (Karen Lury, Amy Holdsworth, and Hannah Tweed) supported and fostered collaborative work in relation to media and questions of care and well-being, focusing on care and care giving as critical concepts. It led to an edited collection Discourses of Care with a major academic publisher.

The 2015 Wellcome Trust funded conference Dissecting the Page: Medical Paratexts (Hannah Tweed, Diane Scott, and Johanna Green) was held in conjunction with University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections, and led to an edited collection Medical Paratexts from Medieval to Modern published with a major book series.

The 2013 Wellcome Trust funded Attentive Writers conferences (Megan Coyer, David Shuttleton, Gavin Miller, Elizabeth Reeder) addressed the relationship between healthcare, authorship and authority d through three inter-related strands  of thematic enquiry: (1) an historical and literary examination of ‘attentive writers’; (2) a more devolved interrogation of the field of Narrative Medicine; and (3) an examination of ‘attentive writing’ as creative practice.

Professional Service

The MHRC and its affiliates contribute to the wider medical humanities community through various forms of professional service. 

Agenda setting in the medical humanities through membership of the RSE Young Academy for Scotland (Megan Coyer) and Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities Discipline+ training panels (Gavin Miller). 

Editorial and peer review work for major academic publishers, and for field-leading journals such as BMJ Medical HumanitiesJournal of Medical HumanitiesJournal of Historical Geography, Literature and Medicine, Social Science and Medicine, and Transcultural Psychiatry.

Peer review for major funding bodies and initiatives, including

  • Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (Gavin Miller)
  • UKRI/AHRC Peer Review College, including COVID-19 Expert Review Group and COVID-19 Rapid Response Panel (Carolyn Jess-Cooke, Gavin Miller, Ben White, Sofia Xenofontos)
  • Leverhulme Trust (Megan Coyer, Gavin Miller)
  • Scottish Graduate School in the Arts and Humanities Doctoral Training Partnership (Gavin Miller)
  • Wellcome Trust (Christine Ferguson, Gavin Miller)
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh, Arts & Humanities Review Committee (Megan Coyer)


Visiting Researchers

The MHRC has welcomed a variety of Visiting Fellows since its inception in 2012, working across a range of disciplines. If you are interested in carrying out medical humanities research at Glasgow as a Visiting Fellow, please contact the Directors. Past Fellows have included:

  • Dr Adrian Chapman, an adjunct at Florida State University (London). Adrian was researching the archive of R. D. Laing, the radical psychiatrist and countercultural figure. 
  • Dr Jenny Eklöf, a senior lecturer in History of Science and Ideas at Umeå University, Sweden. Jenny researched the simultaneous scientization and popularization of mindfulness. 
  • Dr Jac Saorsa, a visual artist with a background in philosophy. Her project focused on a methodological and philosophical comparison of Jan Van Rymsdyk’s drawings for William Hunter’s Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus, and the development of Jac's own drawings for a project entitled Drawing Women’s Cancer. Jac explorated the relation between art and medicine, with specific emphasis on the existential ‘lived experience’ of illness.
  • Dr Claire McKechnie Mason, a public health researcher for the NHS at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH). She worked on an AHRC-funded project entitled "Representing Communities: Developing the creative power of people to improve health and wellbeing". AS part of a UK-wide project investigating how small communities might use creative art forms as a mode of communication and empowerment in healthcare, Claire focused on Dennistoun, an area in the East End of Glasgow. 
  • Dr Donna McCormack worked on a project that examined the interrelation of bodily and national borders in representations of organ transplantation. She focuson on how organ donation is an embodied metaphor for contemporary political anxieties, particularly concerning national belonging and transnational migration.