Bay Area History of Medicine Society

The Bay Area History of Medicine Society (BAHMS) was formally instituted in 1941, making it one of the oldest independent regional groups devoted to the history of medicine and health in the United States. The purpose of the BAHMS is to bring awareness and new insights of the development of the history of medicine to interested audiences living in the Bay Area. While most members are health professionals, participation is open to all who are interested in the history of the health sciences.

Regular meetings usually include a seminar style presentation and are held once a month during the academic year (October through May) at the UCSF Library on Parnassus (530 Parnassus ave., 2nd floor, room 201). All meetings are free and open to the public. A modest voluntary annual dues payment helps defray operational expenses for the group.

Meetings begin at 6:15 pm with light refreshments; presentations begin at 6:30 pm. Please check the meeting schedules for further details or changes that might occur.

Crummer Room for the History of Medicine
Crummer Room for the History of Medicine in the Clinics Building, ca. 1935

2019/2020 Speakers

Steno’s theory of muscle contraction 1667: The right theory at the wrong time.
Dr. Troels Kardel MD, physician and researcher in the history of medicine (Denmark)
October 2, 2019

A new geometrical model of muscle contraction was proposed in Florence 1667 by the Danish anatomist, geologist and later bishop, Niels Stensen, called Steno, 1638 – 1686. His new myology was intended to replace the ancient system favored by Descartes and others that contraction of muscles is caused by inflation by animal spirits channeled to the muscles from the brain through the nerves. Steno based his geometrical model of muscle contraction on just two elements, his observation that the structure of skeletal muscles most often is featherlike or pennate, and that the shortening of muscle is provided by the shortening of muscle fibers. The model of Steno is correct compared with concepts on contraction in our time. Nevertheless, it came under attack by Giovanni A. Borelli and Johann Bernoulli who adhered to the ancient view of inflation suggested to take place in a speculative pattern of rhomboid or ellipsoid machines. The inflation theory had upper hand until microscopy was sufficiently developed to allow observation of fiber contraction in the middle of the 18th Century. Around the new Millennium Steno’s model was confirmed in biomechanical investigations as recorded in doi: 10.1163/9789004360655_008.

Sick of Body and Sick of Heart: The Experience of Illness among the Jews of Old Cairo (1000-1250 CE)                                                                                                                                                     Alan Elbaum, MD candidate, UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program                                  November 20, 2019


2018/2019 Speakers

UCSF Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine Graduate Students Presentations
Hsinyi Hsieh, Aaron J. Jackson, and Antoine S. Johnson
October 17, 2018

“Open Wide: 500 Years of Dentistry in Art:” exhibit tour and talk
Dr. Morton G. Rivo
November 14, 2018

Brown-Séquard: The man, his syndrome, and sensory physiology
Dr. Michael J. Aminoff, MD, DSc, FRCP
January 16, 2019

Richard Cabot and the Art of Ministering to the Sick                                                                        Laura Fernandez, MD, Associate Medical Director, K6 Primary Care Clinic, Highland Hospital    February 20th, 2019

The Social-Political Impact of the Smallpox Epidemic in Boston, 1721-1722
Dr. Bruce R. Parker, M.D., FACR, Stanford
March 20, 2019

Education, Social Conscience, Science: The First 125 Years of OB-GYN at UC San Francisco, 1860s to 1980s
Janet M. Basu, retired Science Journalist, UCSF and Stanford University
April 17, 2019

Andreas Vesalius’ “De Humani Corporis Fabrica”
Dr. Zlatko Pozeg, M.D, St. Boniface Hospital, Canada
May 22, 2019 — Annual Dinner

2017/2018 Speakers

Creation of a Legislative Mess: The History of Medicare and Medicaid Fraud
Brian Dolan, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair,
Department of Anthropology, History & Social Medicine (UCSF)
October 18, 2017

Adolph Barkan (1845-1933), European Ophthalmologist in San Francisco
Dr. J. Fraser Muirhead
November 15, 2017

Bayer in Shanghai: Medical Authority and Commercial Medicine in 1920s China
Peiting C. Li, PhD Candidate, Department of History, UC Berkeley
January 17, 2018

Lyrical Moments in American Medicine: The Surprising Pertinence of Poetry
Marilyn McEntyre, PhD, Visiting Professor of Medical Humanities, UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program
February 21, 2018

A Centennial Remembrance: The University of California Medical Department, San Francisco goes to World War I as the US Army 30th Field Hospital
Dr. Morton G. Rivo
March 21, 2018

Aconite Poisoning and Cardiovascular toxicity
Dr. Daniel Karlsberg
April 18, 2018

Sudden Death in Rome, 1705: Giovanni Lancisi, Pope Clement XI, and the Tale of a Book
Dr. Paul D. Kligfield, Professor, Weill Cornell Medical Center
May 2, 2018 — Annual Dinner


BAHMS President (2017-19): Polina Ilieva

Join the BAHMS distribution list by emailing Sally Kaufmann, M.D. This is a low traffic list, used to announce speakers, and other events of interest to the members.

Subscribe to the BAHMS blog.

To apply for BAHMS membership, please email Gordon Frierson, M.D.  The annual dues are $50. Two members of the same family may pay a discounted membership fee, the second member paying $10.00.