Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Chair for the History of Science

Prof. Dr. Dora Vargha

wiss. Mitarb.
Prof. Dr. Dora Vargha
research assistant
dora.vargha (at)

Humboldt-Universität → Präsidium → Philosophische Fakultät → Institut für Geschichtswissenschaften → Wissenschaftsgeschichte mit einem Schwerpunkt in der Geschichte der Bildung und der Organisation des Wissens im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert
Visiting address
Friedrichstraße 191-193 , Room 5100
Phone number
(030) 2093-70 588
Mailing address
Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin


→ German version

→ Vita

→ Research Interests

→ Research Projects

→ Publications



Dora Vargha is a historian of medicine, science and technology, with expertise in the history of epidemics, the politics of health, and Cold War history. She received her PhD in History from Rutgers University and was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, and a postdoctoral fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, before joining the University of Exeter, where she is Professor of History and Medical Humanities. In 2021, she was awarded a five year ERC Starting Grant for her project ’Socialist Medicine: an Alternative Global Health History’ (SOCMED). As that project’s Principal Investigator, she will lead an ERC Research Group at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin’s chair for the history of science until 2026.

Dora Vargha’s research is informed by gender history, history of childhood and disability history, and is in conversation with medical anthropology, sociological approaches and political science. Her research has been awarded the 2020 Medical Humanities Award for Best International Research by the AHRC and Wellcome Trust, the 2019 Book Prize of the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health, the J. Worth Estes Prize by the American Association for the History of Medicine in 2016, and the Young Scholar Book Prize by the International Committee for the History of Technology in 2014. Dora Vargha was co-editor of the journal of Social History of Medicine 2017-2021.

Research Interests

  • history and politics of global health and public health systems
  • biomedical research in the Cold War era, particularly in Eastern Europe
  • history of epidemics
  • gender history
  • history of childhood
  • disability history

Research Projects

Socialist Medicine: An Alternative Global Health History (SOCMED), funded by an ERC Starting Grant investigates the role of the socialist world in global health structures and networks.

Connecting Three Worlds, funded by the Wellcome Trust, collaborative project together with Sarah Marks (Birkbeck) and Edna Suarez-Diaz (UNAM, Mexico) explores socialist networks in public health, technical assistance programs and mental health in the post-WWII era. 




Vargha D (2021). Technical assistance and socialist international health: Hungary, the WHO and the Korean War. History and Technology, 36(3-4), 400-417. DOI. Article has an altmetric score of 3

Vargha D (2021). The Vaccine. HISTORICAL STUDIES IN THE NATURAL SCIENCES, 51(1), 162-164. Author URL. DOI. Article has an altmetric score of 1


Vargha D (2020). Epidemic years: a third look. ISIS, 111(4), 791-794. Full text. DOI. Article has an altmetric score of 3

Vargha D (2020). Reconsidering the Dramaturgy. Bull Hist Med, 94(4), 690-698.  Abstract.  Author URL. DOI. Article has an altmetric score of 1


Vargha D (2018). Polio across the Iron Curtain: Hungary's Cold War with an Epidemic. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press  Abstract.  Full text. DOI. Article has an altmetric score of 162

Vargha D (2018). Socialist utopia in practice: everyday life and medical authority in a Hungarian polio hospital. Social History of Medicine, 31, 373-391. Full text. DOI. Article has an altmetric score of 17

Vargha D (2018). The Socialist World in Global Polio Eradication. Revue d'Études Comparatives Est Ouest, 49 Full text.

Vargha D (2018). Where is the Poster Child? Polio and Disability in Hungary. In Kudlick C, Rembis M, Nielsen K (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Disability History,  Full text.


Vargha D, Greene J (2017). Grey-market medicines: Diphtheria antitoxin and the decay of biomedical infrastructure. Lancet, The Full text.

Vargha D (2017). Vaccination and the communist state. In Holmberg C, Blume S, Greenough P (Eds.) The politics of vaccination. A global history, Manchester: University of Manchester Press Full text.

Vargha D (2017). Vaccination and the communist state: Polio in Eastern Europe. In  (Ed) The politics of vaccination: a global history, 77-98


Vargha D (2016). After the end of Disease: Rethinking the Epidemic Narrative. Web link.

Antic A, Conterio J, Vargha D (2016). Beyond Liberal Internationalism. Contemporary European History, 25(2), 359-371.  Abstract. DOI.


Vargha D (2014). Between east and west: Polio vaccination across the iron curtain in cold war Hungary. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 88(2), 319-343.  Abstract.  Full text. DOI. Article has an altmetric score of 10


Vargha D (2005). The Medicalization of Sin. The body of the prostitute in 19th century Hungarian medical discourse. Budapesti Negyed (Budapest Quarterly), 47-48