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Professor Jane Macnaughton

Professor of Medical Humanities

Professor of Medical Humanities in the Department of Anthropology+44 (0) 191 33 48164
Research Associate in the Department of English Studies
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing+44 (0) 191 33 48164
Former Director in the Institute for Medical Humanities


Jane Macnaughton is Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Professor of Medical Humanities in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University, UK.  Until 2021 she was Director of the University’s Institute for Medical Humanities (IMH), which she established in 2000. 

She was one of the inaugural staff of the new medical programme at Durham and was Dean of Undergraduate Medicine from 2014 until 2017 when the programme transferred to Newcastle University.  Jane has taken a leadership role in her research field by setting up the Association for Medical Humanities and the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research. 

In her current role as Deputy PVC for Research, Jane has major responsibility for the research environment and is delivering a programme she has called ‘Flourish@Durham’ designed to enhance Durham’s research culture.  Jane is a qualified doctor and until recently did sessional work as an Honorary Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University Hospital of North Durham. 

Her research focusses on the idea of the symptom, its origins as felt sensation in the body, expression within health services and translation into a clinical entity.  She held a Wellcome Trust funded award for the Life of Breath project from 2015-20 to investigate the sensation of breathlessness and has now turned her attention to the experience of menopause.  Building on her clinical work, and with her medical humanities approach, this research explores the entangled histories of women’s health, gynaecological fashions and feminism to understand the critical connections and obstructions that influence the current menopause moment.

Research interests

  • Medical humanities
  • Embodied and emergent symptoms
  • Movement and health
  • Breath and breathlessness
  • Epistemologies of health research


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Supervision students