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Martina Zimmermann


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    Personal profile

    Biographical details

    Martina Zimmermann is Reader in Health Humanities and Health Sciences in the Department of English. She joined King’s with a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship in 2020. She trained as a pharmaceutical scientist and studied and worked in four European countries (Germany, France, Italy and the UK). She is a licensed pharmacist, has researched and taught in the field of neuropharmacology for fifteen years and holds a Habilitation (Privatdozentin) in Pharmacology at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany. Her laboratory and clinical investigations focused on molecular mechanisms underlying nerve cell death in neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. With time, her research increasingly focued on questions to which the field of the health humanities tries to find answers. She is particularly interested in how specific cultural trends and ideas lead laboratory and clinical researchers to study health and disease – especially conditions of ageing and old age as well as ageing itself. Her research shows that science follows culture just as often as literary writing helps itself to scientific imagery. Martina holds a second PhD in the Health Humanities and has published in Health Humanities journals including Literature and Medicine and Medical Humanities, as well as teaching journals like the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. She also has published two monographs on cultural and scientific dementia narratives.

    Research interests

    Martina has recently been awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship to explore the dynamic exchange between scientific, medical and literary representations of ageing. Before joining King’s she worked at the University of Warwick, where she taught Communicating Science in the Department of Physics and, with the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning, developed discipline-crossing modules that explore the rhetoric of science and interrogate the public discourse about science.

    Her first monograph, The Poetics and Politics of Alzheimer’s Disease Life-Writing (2017), has come out in the Literature, Science and Medicine series of the Palgrave imprint; thanks to Wellcome Trust funding you can download it free from the publisher’s page. Her second book, The Diseased Brain and the Failing Mind. Dementia in Science, Medicine and Literature of the Long Twentieth Century (2020) is published by Bloomsbury in their Explorations in Science and Literature series. Thanks to Wellcome Trust funding also this monograph is open access.

    Research interests (short)

    Health humanities; the interplay between science, medicine and literature (primarily 1880 to the present); age studies and illness life-writing (including neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders); narrative theory; science communication, especially the rhetoric of science and public discourse about science (especially health sciences).

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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