Nicolas Rasmussen
MA, MPhil, PhD, MPH
Nicolas Rasmussen is Professor of History & Philosophy of Science at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney Australia
Nic is a historian of medicine and life sciences, with higher degrees in History & Philosophy of Science (MPhil, Cambridge, 1987), Biological Sciences (PhD, Stanford, 1992), and Public Health (MPH, Sydney University Medical School, 2007).  He also has undergraduate and Masters degrees from the University of Chicago.  To email Nic click HERE.

Access a 2018 talk at University of California, San Francisco on the emergence of group weight loss as a heart disease control program in 1950s public health, an interview on amphetamine history with Dr Frank Sweeny on his Straight Talk MD podcast, recent popular pieces on clinical trials in The Conversation, and on Attention Deficit medication overuse in
Wall St Journal

In 2019 Nic had the honour of being elected as Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Academy of Humanities Australia (AHA)


Major research interests include the the history of cell and molecular biology since the 1930s, the history of clinical trials and their regulation in the US,  the history of collaborations between academic biomedical scientists and the drug industry, and the history of prescription drug abuse and control policy.  A current major research project, funded by the Australian Research Council under a large Discovery Grant, concerns the first alarm over obesity in the United States during the 1950s, in terms of public health and biomedical research policy as well as popular perceptions and medical practice.


Fat in the Fifties: America's First Obesity Crisis (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019)

Gene Jockeys: Life Science and the Rise of Biotech Enterprise (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014)

On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine (New York University Press, 2008)

Picture Control:  The Electron Microscope and the Transformation of Biology in America, 1940-1960
(Stanford University Press, 1997)


Biomedicine and its Historiography: A Systematic Review", in M.R Dietrich, M.E. Borello, and O. Harman eds, Handbook of the Historiography of Biology (Springer, 2018)

"Controlling ‘America’s Opium’: Barbiturate Abuse, Pharmaceutical Regulation, and the Politics of Public Health in the Early Postwar US", Journal of Policy History 29: 543-568 (2017)

"Stigma and the Addiction Paradigm for Obesity: Lessons from 1950s America", Addiction 110: 217-225 (2015)

"On Slicing an Obvious Salami Thinly: Science, Patent Case Law, and the Fate of the Early Biotech Sector in the Making of Epo", Perspectives in Biology & Medicine 56: 198-222 (2013)

"Weight Stigma, Addiction Science, and the Medication of Fatness in mid-20th Century America", Sociology of Health and Illness 34: 880-95 (2012)

"On the Military Uses of Scientific Expertise: Amphetamine’s Adoption by the Allies in the Second World War", Journal of Interdisciplinary History 42(2): 205-233 (2011)

"Maurice Seevers, the Stimulants, and the Political Economy of Addiction in the United States", BioSocieties 5(1): 105-123 (2010)

"America’s First Amphetamine Epidemic, 1929-1971: A Quantitative and Qualitative Retrospective", American Journal of Public Health 98: 974-985 (2008)

“Making The First Anti-Depressant: Amphetamine In American Medicine, 1929-1950”, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 61: 288-323 (2006)

"The Commercial Drug Trial in Interwar America: Three Types of Clinician Collaborator", Bulletin of the History of Medicine 75: 50-80 (2005)

"The Moral Economy of the Drug Company-Medical Scientist Collaboration in Interwar America", Social Studies of Science 34: 161-186 (2004)

"Of 'Small Men', Big Science, and Bigger Business: The Second World War and Biomedical Research in America", Minerva 40 (2): 1-32 (2002)

"Steroids in Arms: Science, Government, Industry, and the Hormones of the Adrenal Cortex in the United States, 1930-1950", Medical History 46: 299-324 (2002)

"Evolving Scientific Epistemologies and the Artifacts of Empirical Philosophy of Science: A Reply Concerning Mesosomes”, Biology and Philosophy 16: 627-652 (2001)

"Plant Hormones in War and Peace: Science, Industry, and Government in the Development of Herbicides in 1940s America", Isis 92: 291-316 (2001)

"The Forgotten Promise of Thiamin: Merck, Caltech Biologists, and Plant Hormones in a 1930s Biotechnology Project", Journal of the History of Biology 32: 245-261 (1999)

 "The Midcentury Biophysics Bubble: Hiroshima and the Biological Revolution in America, Revisited", History of Science 35: 245-293 (1997)

"Mitochondrial Structure and the Practice of Cell Biology in the 1950s", Journal of the History of Biology 28: 1-49 (1995)

"Fact, Artifacts, and Mesosomes: Practicing Epistemology with the Electron Microscope", Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 24: 227-265 (1993)

* For a more complete list of research articles and current citation data, visit  Google Scholar

 Some of these writings may be available in pre-publication form via ResearchGate

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