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Dr. Jacalyn Duffin

Medical historian Jacalyn Duffin awarded Hannah Medal

Medical historian and professor emerita, Dr. Jacalyn Duffin, has been awarded the Jason A. Hannah Medal by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC).  

Dr. Duffin was honoured  for her book, Stanley’s Dream: The Medical Expedition to Easter Island (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019). Established in 1976 with the assistance of the Associated Medical Services Inc, the biennial Hannah Medal is awarded for an important publication within the last five years in the history of medicine.

This marks the third time Dr. Duffin has been honoured with the Hannah Medal, having previously been awarded in 2009 for Medical Miracles: Doctors, Saints and Healing in the Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2009) and 2001 for To See with a Better Eye: A Life of RTH Laennec (Princeton University Press, 1998).

Dr. Duffin’s book Stanley’s Dream illustrates the 1964-65 expedition of an international team of 38 scientists and assistants led by Montreal physician Stanley Skoryna to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to conduct an unprecedented survey of its biosphere. Based on archival papers, diaries, photographs, and interviews with 17 members of the original team, Dr. Duffin’s work sets the expedition in its global context within the early days of ecological research and the understudied International Biological Program.

As a hematologist and historian, Dr. Duffin is the Hannah Professor Emerita of the History of Medicine at Queen’s, Dr. Duffin has advanced groundbreaking work on the history of disease, technology, religion, and health policy. She is also a leader in the medical humanities, an interdisciplinary field that examines the arts, humanities, and social sciences as they relate to healthcare education and practice. Dr. Duffin is the former President of the American Association for the History of Medicine and the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine and was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (2019) and is a member of the Order of Canada (2020). Her most recent book,COVID-19: A History(2022), presents a global history of the virus with a focus on Canada and its scientific, social, and political impacts in the context of past epidemics. As a Queen’s professor, she was cross-appointed to the School of Medicine, and Departments of History and Philosophy.

"Research and writing Stanley’s Dream was a fascinating adventure and an enormous privilege," says Dr. Duffin. "I am deeply grateful to the RSC, and especially to those nominators who considered my work worthy of this recognition."

To learn more about this year’s medal recipients, visit the RSC website.

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