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Tilli Tansey

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Tilli Tansey

Tilli Tansey at the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries 2018
Elizabeth M. Tansey
Alma mater[[University of Sheffield BSc PhD Hon MD, University of London PhD
Known forWitness seminars
Scientific career
History of science
History of medicine
InstitutionsQueen Mary University of London
University College London
Tansey's voice recorded June 2017

Elizabeth M. Tansey OBE FMedSci FRCP (known as Tilli) is an Emerita Professor of the history of medicine and former neurochemist, best known for her role in the Wellcome Trust's witness seminars. She previously[when?] worked at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).[1]


Tansley was educated at the University of Sheffield where she was awarded a PhD in 1978[2] for histochemical studies of the brain in cephalopods. After switching fields from neuroscience[3] to the history of science, she was awarded a second PhD in the history of science for her research on the early career of the nobel laureate Henry Hallett Dale.[4]

Career and research

Between 2012 and 2017, she was head of the History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group, on a five-year research project funded by the Wellcome Trust titled The Makers of Modern Biomedicine: Testimonies and Legacy, to record oral testimonies from those who have contributed significantly to modern medical sciences.[5][6][7]

Tansey's Witness Seminar series, held at the Wellcome Trust Centre, had the aim of bringing together medical professionals, scientists and technicians in group discussions, with the purpose of learning about significant periods in the history recent medicine.[8][9][10] Topics covered have included oral contraceptives, genetic testing, and post-penicillin antibiotics.[8]

Selected publications

  • She co-edited a book with Susan Wray celebrating one hundred years of women physiologists.[11][12][13]
  • The History of Toxicology: the Long and Short of it[14]
  • Rudolf Magnus; Physiologist and Pharmacologist (1873–1927): A Biography[15] concerning Rudolf Magnus

Awards and honours

Tansey is an honorary member of The Physiological Society.[16] In 2015, at the centenary of women's membership of the Physiological Society, Tansey received the Paton prize and presented her prize lecture entitled Maude, Nettie, Ghetel and George, a study of some women married to early nineteenth century Physiological Society members.[17][13][18]

In 2017 she was elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine,[19]


  1. ^ "Professor Tilli Tansey". acmedsci.ac.uk. The Academy of Medical Sciences. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  2. ^ Tansey, Elizabeth M. (1978). A histochemical study of the cephalopod brain. copac.jisc.ac.uk (PhD thesis). Sheffield University. OCLC 500576270. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.474559.
  3. ^ Tansey, Elizabeth M.; Arbuthnott, Gordon W.; Fink, George; Whale, Derek (1983). "Oestradiol-17β Increases the Firing Rate of Antidromically Identified Neurones of the Rat Neostriatum". Neuroendocrinology. 37 (2): 106–110. doi:10.1159/000123527. ISSN 0028-3835.
  4. ^ Tansey, Elizabeth M. (1990). The early scientific career of Sir Henry Dale FRS (1875-1968). ucl.ac.uk (PhD thesis). University of London. OCLC 556469190. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.294137.
  5. ^ "Project to reveal hidden pioneers of modern medicine". Queen Mary, University of London. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Reality behind research: 21 years of oral history with Wellcome Witness (2014)".
  7. ^ "Wellcome Witnesses Volumes - The History of Modern Biomedicine". www.histmodbiomed.org.
  8. ^ a b Ronald E. Doel; Thomas Söderqvist (2006). "1. Introduction". The Historiography of Contemporary Science, Technology, and Medicine: Writing Recent Science. Routledge. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-415-27294-0.
  9. ^ "History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group celebrates 21 years of innovation | Wellcome". wellcome.ac.uk. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  10. ^ "What is a Witness Seminar | The History of Modern Biomedicine". histmodbiomed.org. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  11. ^ Wray, Susan; Tansey, Elizabeth, eds. (2015). Women physiologists : centenary celebrations and beyond (PDF). London: The Physiological Society. ISBN 9780993341007. OCLC 922032986.
  12. ^ "Women in physiology".
  13. ^ a b "Professor Tilli Tansey awarded the Paton Prize - School of History". qmul.ac.uk. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  14. ^ Tansey, Tilli (1993). "The History of Toxicology: the Long and Short of it". Human & Experimental Toxicology. 12 (6): 459–461. doi:10.1177/096032719301200601. ISSN 0960-3271.
  15. ^ Tansey, Tilli (2002). "Rudolf Magnus; Physiologist and Pharmacologist (1873–1927): A Biography". Endeavour. 26 (3): 118. doi:10.1016/S0160-9327(02)01438-2. ISSN 0160-9327.
  16. ^ "Current Honorary Members". Physiological Society. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  17. ^ The Physiological Society (16 February 2016). "Welcome and Paton Prize Lecture" – via YouTube.
  18. ^ "Lectures and Prizes" (PDF). The Physiological Society. 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  19. ^ "Honorary Fellowship Ceremony and inauguration of new President". Royal Society of Medicine. 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2018.

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