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Professor Jane Macnaughton

Professor of Medical Humanities

Professor of Medical Humanities in the Department of Anthropology+44 (0) 191 33 48164
Research Associate in the Department of English Studies
Former Director in the Institute for Medical Humanities
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing+44 (0) 191 33 48164


Jane Macnaughton is Professor of Medical Humanities at Durham University in the UK and Director of the University’s Institute for Medical Humanities (IMH). She has been centrally involved in the development of medical humanities in the UK since 1998. She was part of the core group that set up the Association for Medical Humanities in 2000 with support from the Nuffield Trust and was its inaugural Secretary. She edited the journal Medical Humanities from 2002-2008. The Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research was established on the back of a meeting Jane initiated and chaired at Durham in February 2013 with the purpose of strengthening the visibility of medical humanities research and encouraging collaboration across universities in the North of England and Scotland. 

Jane currently holds two large awards from Wellcome: a Development Grant for the Institute for Medical Humanities. and a Senior Investigator Award for her project, the Life of Breath. She sits on the Wellcome Trust Expert Review Group for established career awards in medical humanities. Her research focusses on the idea of the ‘symptom’: its initial appearance, development and evolution in connection with medical contexts, habits and technologies. 

Until August 2017 when Medicine moved to Newcastle University, Jane was Dean of Undergraduate Medicine at Durham University. She is now Professor in the Anthropology Department and interested in supervising work on the nature of clinical interactions, the development of symptoms, including breathlessness and symptoms relating to women’s health. She is a member of the Department’s Research Committee and the Anthropology of Health Research Group. She is involved in the University’s Equality and Diversity strategy as a member of the Institutional Athena SWAN Committee and the University’s Bullying and Harassment Network. She continues to be clinically active and is an Honorary Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University Hospital of North Durham working in colposcopy.

Research interests

  • Medical humanities
  • Embodied and emergent symptoms
  • Movement and health
  • Breath and breathlessness
  • Epistemologies of health research


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Supervision students