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Marta Hanson, M.A., Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor of History of Medicine

Research Interests

Late imperial Chinese cultural and social history; Chinese arts of memory; History of epidemics, disease, and public health in China; History of Chinese science and medicine more


Dr. Marta Hanson is an associate professor of the history of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the history of Chinese science and medicine.

Dr. Hanson received her undergraduate degree in health and society with a concentration in Chinese studies from Brown University. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Hanson joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2004.

Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Dr. Hanson was an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of California, San Diego. From 2006 to 2009, she was the director of graduate studies at the Department of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. She has been a faculty member of the East Asian Studies Program since 2004.

Dr. Hanson is a member of several professional organizations, including the Association for Asian Studies and the History of Science Society. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including an International Research Consortium Fellowship from the University of Erlangen. more


  • Associate Professor of History of Medicine

Departments / Divisions



  • B.A.; Brown University (Rhode Island) (1985)
  • M.A.; University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania) (1988)
  • Ph.D.; University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania) (1997)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Hanson's research interests span the following subjects in Chinese history: the history of Chinese science and medicine; history of epidemics and disease in China; conceptions of space, the body, native-place identity and ethnicity; imperial, regional and local traditions in Chinese medicine; the relationship between visual and textual representations in medical texts; the interaction between vernacular and elite medical knowledge; Chinese arts of memory related to hand mnemonics; and the social, cultural and intellectual history of late imperial China.

Selected Publications

  1. Hanson M. "Maoist public-health campaigns, Chinese medicine, and SARS." Lancet. 2008 Oct 25;372(9648):1457-8.
  2. Hanson M. “Hand mnemonics in classical Chinese medicine: texts, earliest images, and arts of memory.” Festschrift issue in honor of Nathan Sivin. Asia Major, Series 3. 2008;21(1): 325-57.
  3. Hanson M. "Northern purgatives, southern restoratives: Ming medical regionalism." Asian Medicine. 2006;2(2):115-170.
  4. Hanson M, Pham A. "Enhancing the practitioner's sense of time, place, and practice: the history of Chinese medicine for practitioners workshop ICTAM VI, April 30, 2006." Asian Medicine 2.2 (2006):318-353.
  5. Hanson M. "Proceedings of the First North American Conference on Manchu Studies." Portland, OR: May 9-10, 2003. 131-175.
  6. Hanson M. "Manchu medical manuscripts and blockprints: an essay and bibliographic survey." Saksaha: A Review of Manchu Studies. 2003;8:1-32.
  7. “The Golden Mirror in the Imperial Court of the Qianlong Emperor, 1739-1742.” East Asia, Early Science and Medicine (special issue on imperial patronage of science). 2003;8(2):111-147.

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Courses and Syllabi

  • The History of Public Health in China, (English bibliography)
  • The History of Public Health in China (English and Chinese bibliography)
  • Medicine (and Science) in History: An Introduction to Historiography
  • An Introduction to Historical Methods in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • History of Chinese Medicine
  • History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Modern China Comparing Science in China and the West
  • Graduate Reading Seminar in the History of Science and Medicine in Modern China
  • 140.601 History of Science, Medicine and Technology: An Introduction to Historical Methods

Activities & Honors


  • Neal Prize for Biological Sciences, Girton College, 2001
  • Faculty of Life Science Graduate Student Poster Prize, University of Manchester, 2005
  • Value in People (VIP) Award, Wellcome Trust, 2006
  • Full Scholarship, Medical Research Council , 2003
  • Full Scholarship, Medical Research Council , 2002

Professional Activities

  • Academic Senate for the Department of History, UCSD, 1998
  • Chair, History of Science Society, 2000
  • Chancellor’s Steering Committee for the LGBT Resource Office, UCSD, 1999
  • Chinese Medical Texts Translation Workshop Organizer, UCSD, 2000
  • Co-Chair, History of Science in East Asia, 2005
  • Committee on and Program in Chinese Studies, UCSD, 2003
  • Coordinator of Science Studies Colloquium Lecture Series, UCSD, 1998
  • Director of Graduate Studies, Department of the History of Medicine, 2006
  • MA/PhD Committee, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2006
  • Organizing Committee, 7th International Conference of Traditional Asian Medicine (ICTAM VII), 2007
  • Organizing Committee, Seventh International Conference on the History of Science in East Asia, 1993
  • Panel Chair, Association of Asian Studies, 2010
  • Panel Organizer, Association of Asian Studies, 2003
  • Panel Organizer, The Tenth International Conference on the History of Science in East Asia, 2002
  • Presider for the Undergraduate Research Conference, UCSD, 1999
  • Project Coordinator, Dahe Commune/Township: Data Sets and Codebook), 1984
  • Secretary General, International Society for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine (IASTAM), 2007
  • Steering Committee for the Critical Gender Studies Program, UCSD, 1998
  • Undergraduate Committee, UCSD, 2003
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