Contextualizing Transplantation: Medicine, Society, and Culture

An image of Dr. Thomas Starzl at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
16 Apr 2024 - 18 Apr 2024 SHHK Conference Room & LKC Medical Library Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
Park Hyung Wook

This is a hybrid event.

To register for in-person attendance at SHHK Conference Room, click here.

To register for virtual attendance on Zoom, click here.

Conference brochure:


Contextualizing Transplantation



"A New Approach to the Surgical Treatment of Disease: Transplantation and Physiological Surgery” 

The introduction of organ transplantation in the 1880s marks the beginning of a new strategy in the surgical treatment of disease. Before, surgeons typically tried to remove diseased tissue from the patient’s body, for example, in cases of tumors. The new strategy consisted in reconstructing body functions. The new approach went along with a new style in surgery, often called “physiological surgery” for its orientation towards body function and its close relationship to experimental physiology. Within the history of modern surgery more generally, organ transplantation was an important step away from the traditional rationale of surgery as a treatment of last resort in cases of emergencies, usually at the body’s surface, towards the rationale of modern surgery, which is based on the planned treatment of complex internal diseases by deliberate surgical interventions into body structures and functions.

After working as a resident in internal medicine at the University Hospital in Marburg, Germany, Thomas Schlich had prestigious research and teaching positions in the history of medicine at Cambridge, Stuttgart, and Freiburg. He was awarded a Heisenberg Fellowship of the German Research Council (2000-2002). In 2002 he moved to McGill University where he has held a Canada Research Chair (2002-2012), and since 2012 a James McGill Professorship. Since 2021 he is Chair of the Department Social Studies of Science. He is interested in the history of modern medicine and science (18th-21st centuries), medicine and technology, history of medical innovation, body history. As the author of The Origins of Organ Transplantation: Surgery and Laboratory Science, 1880-1930 (Rochester, 2010), he focuses on the history of modern surgery (1800 to the present time) and the history of the medical face mask. 



Contextualizing Transplantation: Medicine, Society, and Culture

16 April 2018 (Tuesday): 1:30 PM – 5:15 PM

Venue: SHHK Conference Room (48 Nanyang Avenue, SHHK 05-57, Singapore 639818)

1:30-1:45 PM

Opening Address: K. K. Luke, Chair, School of Humanities, NTU

1:45-2:45 PM

Keynote Lecture: Thomas Schlich (McGill University): “A New Approach to the Surgical Treatment of Disease: Transplantation and Physiological Surgery”

2:45-3:15 PM

Coffee Break

3:15-4:15 PM

Justin Barr (University of Toronto): “Making Ends Meet: Vascular Anastomoses and Organ Transplant”

4:15-5:15 PM

Ayesha Nathoo (University of Cambridge): “Early Heart Transplants and Medical-Media Histories”

17 April 2018 (Wednesday): 10 AM – 5:30 PM

Venue: SHHK Conference Room (48 Nanyang Avenue, SHHK 05-57, Singapore 639818)

10-10:40 AM

Navin Kumar Verma (NTU): “Suppression of T-Cell Function by Potassium Ionic Checkpoint: Implications for Transplantation Immunology”

10:40 AM-11:40 AM

Hyung Wook Park (NTU): “Riddles of Immunosuppression: Rejection and Tolerance in Thomas Starzl’s Transplantation Research, 1955-1985”

11:40 AM-1 PM


1-2 PM

Shelly McKellar (Western University): “Complementary or Competitive Lines of Investigation?  The 1960s ‘Dispute’ of Cardiac Transplantation versus Mechanical Implantation to Replace the Damaged Heart”

2-3 PMSharrona Pearl (Drexel University): “Face/Off or On? Face Transplants and the Resistance to Categorization”
3-3:30 PMCoffee Break

3:30-4:30 PM

Kaori Sasaki (Sapporo Medical University): “The Japanese Development of Organ Transplantation from Brain-dead Donors: Beyond the Differences from the Euro-American Practices and the Myths about Such Differences”
4:30-5:30 PMVolker H. Schmidt (NUS): “Everyday Triage: Patient Selection Before and After the Use of Scoring Systems, Exemplified in Transplant Medicine”


18 April 2024 (Thursday): 9 AM – 10:20 AM

Venue: LKC Medical Library (11 Mandalay Rd, Singapore 308232)

Special Session: Conversation with Singapore’s Transplant Surgeons (Drs Tiong Ho Yee and Shridhar Ganpathi Iyer at NUH)