Skip to main content

Christopher Crenner, MD, PhD

Christopher Crenner, MD, PhD
Robert Hudson and Ralph Major Professor of the History and Philosophy of Medicine
Chair, Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine

2025 Robinson
Mailstop 1025
3901 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, KS 66160
913 588-7040 -- office
913 588-7060 -- fax

Education and Training

  • Princeton University, BA in Classics, with Science in Human Affairs
  • Harvard University, PhD in History of Science
  • Harvard Medical School, MD
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital, Residency in Internal Medicine, Dunn Award winner
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Fellowship in General Internal Medicine

Research, Teaching and Service

In medical education, my overarching goal is to support the intellectual growth of physicians who can think critically about the medical enterprise and account for the diverse factors that influence their patients' health. Medicine is in the midst of rapid change. Some of the largest challenges facing physicians lie at the interface of the profession and the wider society. I am concerned that future physicians who try to "keep their heads down" may wind up disillusioned. Our medical graduates should feel that they understand and can influence the social dimensions of health and healing in their careers and daily practice. History provides an excellent guide for understanding the changing contours and responsibilities of the field of medicine. Historically informed graduates will be more likely to find a path through change that will enable them to be valuable to their patients and profession throughout a satisfying career.

As chair of the Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine I have the pleasure to guide one of best situated such departments in a school of medicine nationally. Using the combined resources of a remarkable library, a museum, and historical archives, we strive to make the history of medicine a vital part of the life of the medicine center. In addition, we are the heart of the university's ethics programs, located with the medical complex of KU Hospital, a 623 bed general medical and surgical facility acting as a tertiary referral center for a large region of the Midwest. Our department organizes and lead ethics education for the medical students and residency programs and serves in organizing the hospital ethics committee and a busy hospital ethics consult service.

In my professional service, I worked as book review editor for the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences from 2003 to 2007, and am presently the editor in chief. From 2007 to 2011 I served as the national Secretary-Treasurer and then Secretary for the American Association for the History of Medicine. In 2016, I will begin a two-year term as president for the association. In my medical practice at the KU Hospital I supervise the longitudinal primary care clinic for residents in the combined medicine-psychiatry residency program. I continue to serve evenings as a volunteer physician at the Free JayDoc Health Clinic in Kansas City, Kansas.

Selected Publications

Emily Mayhew and Christopher Crenner. Introduction. In Medical Care during the First World War: A Special Virtual Issue, ed. Christopher Crenner and Emily Mayhew. Available online at:

C. Crenner. Race and Laboratory Norms: The Critical Insights of Julian Herman Lewis (1891-1989). Isis. Vol. 105, No. 3, (2014): 477-507

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study and the Scientific Concept of Racial Nervous Resistance. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. (2011) doi: 10.1093/jhmas/jrr003 First published online: February 12, 2011

An Appreciation of Irony in the Medical Writing of William Osler. In The Persisting Osler IV: Selected Transactions of the American Osler Society, edited by Jeremiah A. Barondess and Charles S. Bryan. American Osler Society, 2011.

Presentations and Exhibits

Crenner. Evolving Use of Sham Controls in Trials of Surgical and Invasive Procedures. Conference on Impact of Technological Change on the Surgical Profession. McGill University. Montreal, Quebec. March 24, 2016

Crenner. Richard Cabot and the Routine Practice of Medicine. Worth Estes Lecture. Harvard Medical School and Boston Medical Society. Boston, MA. May 12, 2015.

Crenner. Julian Herman Lewis and the Establishment of Laboratory Norms. Symposium in Honor of Dr. JH Lewis. University of Chicago. Chicago, IL. February 21, 2015.

Crenner. The Trials of Dr. Robert Koefoot: Rural Surgery, Inter-Specialty Competition and the Means of Payment. Conference on the History and Future of Rural Medicine. University of Kansas Medical Center. April 6-7, 2015.

Crenner. Sham Surgery for Placebo-Controlled Trials, 1950-2010. Asher Seminar on Surgical Innovation in Historical Context. University of Kansas School of Medicine. September 2013.

Last modified: Jun 12, 2018