Physician, Historian to Discuss ‘Medical Miracles,’ Intersection of Science and Religion at Charles Edmonson Historical Lectures

Oct. 21, 2016
Jacalyn Duffin1Physician and historian Jacalyn Duffin, Ph.D., M.D., will lecture on the history of medicine and the intersection of science and religion at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 24 and 25 for the Charles Edmonson Historical Lectures.

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WACO, Texas (Oct. 21, 2016) – Jacalyn Duffin, Ph.D., M.D., will give two lectures on the history of medicine for the 2016 Charles Edmonson Historical Lectures at Baylor University. The lectures are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24, and Tuesday, Oct. 25, in Room 240 of the Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, 1621 S. Third St.

Monday’s lecture is “Medical Miracles: Doctors, Saints, and Healing in the Modern World,” based on her 2009 book of the same name. Duffin will recount her experience studying a set of bone marrows in a case of leukemia that led her to explore the miracles applied to the canonization process held in the Vatican archives. Through her study, she found that the majority of miracles were healings from physical illness in which doctors and medicine played an important role. Duffin will discuss her findings and their implications for medicine and its history.

The lecture Tuesday will be inspired by Duffin’s 2005 book “Lovers and Livers: Disease Concepts in History.” It will be an interactive discussion designed to demonstrate that diseases are ideas that develop to explain experiences of illness and that the theories developed to account for suffering change over time.

Andrea Turpin, Ph.D., assistant professor of history, said the subject of medical history is relevant to everyone, though Duffin’s lectures should particularly appeal to pre-med and nursing students, as well as Catholic students and those interested in the intersection of science and religion.

“The lectures should be of broad interest to all members of the Baylor community because medicine and doctors are a part of all of our daily lives and these lectures provide an opportunity to reflect on why medicine is practiced the way it is today,” Turpin said.

Duffin is the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and a fellow in the Royal Society of Canada. Duffin was president of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine from 1999 to 2001and of the American Association for the History of Medicine from 2004 to 2006. She is a practicing physician, hematologist and historian, as well as author of numerous books and articles on the history of medicine.

The Charles Edmondson Historical Lectures are hosted annually by the history department in the College of Arts & Sciences.

“This is the history department’s most prestigious endowed lecture series and has been taking place annually since the late 1970s,” said Barry Hankins, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of history. “Some of the most renowned scholars in a variety of fields have given the lectures.”

The annual lecture is made possible by an endowment established by E. Bud Edmondson, M.D. in honor of his father, Charles S.B. Edmondson.

“Each year the history department brings in a speaker at the top of his or her field of history to share with the Baylor community some of the best work being done in history today,” Turpin said. “We rotate the topics each year in order to share the breadth of historical research.”

These lectures are free and open to the public.

by Kalli Damschen, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit

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