Professor Frank W. Stahnisch

Professor Frank W. Stahnisch



Cumming School of Medicine

Full Member

Hotchkiss Brain Institute

Full Member

Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education

Contact information

Phone number

Office: +1 (403) 210-6290
Office: +1 (403) 220-6424


Department of Community Health Sciences: TRW Building3E41
Department of History: Social Sciences BuildingSS606


I'm looking for...

Learning opportunities

Graduate Students (Master's and PhDs) and PostDocs (external funding)


Educational Background

Doctor of Philosophy History of Medicine, Humboldt University, 2001

Doctor of Medicine Human Medicine, Free University (West Berlin), 1998

M.S. Philosophy of Science, University of Edinburgh, 1995

B.A. Philosophy, J. W. Goethe University, 1992


(AMF/Hannah Professorship in the History of Medicine and Health Care)

As a historian of medicine and health care, Frank's interests span the development of experimental physiology and laboratory medicine since the late 18th century (particularly France and Germany), the historical relationship between neurology/the neurosciences and the philosophy of the mind (focus on the German-speaking countries and North America), the relationship between clinical neuroscience and public mental health (particularly Canada and the United States), the historical epistemology of the life sciences (18th to 21st centuries), and the longer history of visualization practices in medicine and health care. His current research as a Principle Investigator has been supported by research grants from SSHRC, CIHR, AvH, NSHRF, AMS, and AHRF.

Since 2015 he has succeeded Professor Malcolm Macmillan (University of Melbourne, Australia) as Editor-in-Chief of the international "Journal of the History of the Neurosciences" (with Taylor & Francis - Routledge Group).


Participation in university strategic initiatives


Course number Course title Semester
HTST 49398 LEC 01 01 Topics in History - Medicine 2021
HTST 49399 LEC 01 01 Topics in History - Medicine 2020
HTST 54102 SEC 01 S01 Topics in the Hist of Science 2021
HTST 69125 LEC 02 02 Conference Course in Spec Top 2021
ASHA 501 LEC 01 01 The Nature of Research 2020
HTST 49338 LEC 01 01 Topics in History 2020
HTST 49339 LEC 01 01 Topics in History 2021


Great Minds in Despair – The Forced-Migration of German-Speaking Neuroscientists to North America, 1933 to 1989

Annual Fellowship at the Calgary Institute for the Humanities:

In the history of science scholarship, the ‘Brain Gain Thesis’ is often taken as an unquestioned given in studies of the forced migration of physicians and medical researchers following the Nazis’ rise to power in Germany after 1933. Research literature on the receiving countries has primarily tended to take the intellectual, academic, and institutional dimensions of the forced migration wave into account, while the individual fate and adaptation problems of many émigré psychiatrists and neurologists are still considerably under-investigated.  In this project, I thus want to look at the fate of a group of émigré physicians and researchers, who could be classified as early “neuroscientists” and who immigrated to Canada and the US either transitionally or for good. The thesis put forward here is that the process of forced migration most often constituted an end or at least a drastic change to the careers of this group of medical professionals.


  • Jason A. Hannah Medal in the History of Medicine, Royal Society of Canada. 2021
  • Research Award in the Established Scholar Category, Faculty of Arts, University of Calgary. 2021
  • Annual Fellow, Calgary Institute for the Humanities. 2021
  • Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. 2017
  • Promotion to Full Profesor, University of Calgary. 2016
  • Rhea and Louis D. Boshes Lectureship in the History of Neurology, University of Illinois at Chicago. 2016
  • Sebastian K. Littmann Keynote Lecture, Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary. 2015
  • Editor in Chief, Journal of the History of the Neurosciences. 2015
  • Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Leadership in Health Care and Medicine Lecture, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida. 2015
  • Tenure Award, University of Calgary. 2014
  • Innovative Teaching Award, British Society for the History of Science. 2012
  • Vice-President, Alberta Medical Foundation. 2012
  • Committee Recommendation for Renewal for Second Term, AMF/Hannah Professorship in the History of Medicine and Health Care. 2012
  • Marie Louise Nickerson Ward in Neuro-History, McGill University. 2012
  • President, International Society for the History of the Neurosciences. 2010
  • Humboldt Research Fellowship 2010, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. 2010
  • Presidential Lecture , International Society for the History of the Neurosciences. 2011
  • Klaus Reicher Prize in Medical Philosophy, Literary Society Karlsruhe. 2009
  • Associated Medical Services Lecture in the History of Medicine, University of Alberta. 2009
  • Listed in: Who is Who in North Amercian Higher Education, Biltmore Who is Who. 2009
  • Inauguration in Endowed Research Professorship, AMF/Hannah Professsorship in the History of Medicine and Health Care. 2008
  • H. Richard Tyler Award, American Academy of Neurology. 2007
  • John J. Pisano Award, National Institutes of Health. 2007
  • Feodor Lynen Fellowship 2006-2008, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. 2006
  • Commendation, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. 1995
  • Scholarship to Study Abroad, German Ministry of Education and Research. 1994

In the News

Frank W. Stahnisch is an Editor-in-Chief of the international "Journal of the History of the Neurosciences", which is the official journal of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and the History Committee of the World Federation of Neurology (WFR).  This journal is a flagship journal in the wider field of the history of neuroscience, psychiatry, and public mental health.  Frank envisages his role as Editor-in-Chief, as to encourage broader scholarly uptake in the history and philosophy of neuroscience, the cultural historical exploration of neuroscientific concepts, institutions, and practices, along with the comparative aspects of neuroscientific research and clinical work in different cultural and international settings.