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Mary Augusta Brazelton

University Lecturer in Global Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine

I am University Lecturer in Global Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine. My book, Mass Vaccination: Citizens' Bodies and State Power in Modern China, examines the history of mass immunization in twentieth-century China. It suggests that the origins of the vaccination policies that eradicated smallpox and controlled other infectious diseases in the 1950s, providing an important basis for the emergence of Chinese health policy as a model for global health, can be traced to research and development in southwest China during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

My research interests lie broadly in historical intersections of science, technology, and medicine in China and around the world. Current projects include a collaborative exploration of the history of transportation technologies, with particular interests in transnational histories of civil aviation, and a study of the history of penicillin development in China. I received my PhD in History from Yale and have taught at Tufts University.

At Cambridge, I am also an affiliated lecturer in East Asian Studies at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and an associate member of the World History Subject Group in the History Faculty, as well as a Research Fellow of the Needham Research Institute. I am Director of Studies for HPS at Lucy Cavendish and St Catharine's Colleges. Additionally, I am a Council member of the British Association of Chinese Studies. Potential students may get in touch by emailing mab94 at cam dot ac dot uk.

I also organize a Manchu language study group, which meets regularly for text-reading sessions during term. See here for an introduction to this language and its historical significance, and here for a Manchu word of the day.

Research interests

Global studies of science, technology and medicine; history of medicine and the life sciences in modern China; history of transportation technologies in the twentieth century; history of international and global health.


Mass Vaccination: Citizens' Bodies and State Power in Modern China (Cornell, 2019). A Study of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. Published with the support of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. Read a feature here. Download a list of the book's Chinese sources that includes characters here.

"The production of penicillin in wartime China and Sino-American definitions of 'normal' microbiology." Journal of Modern Chinese History 13, no. 1 (2019): 102-123. Part of a special issue edited by Hans Van de Ven, entitled "Wartime Everydayness in China during the Second World War."

"Engineering Health: Technologies of Immunization in China's Wartime Hinterland, 1937–45." Technology and Culture 60, no. 2 (April 2019): 409-37. This article received the Zhu Kezhen Senior Award from the International Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine in 2019.

"Danger in the Air: Tuberculosis Control and BCG Vaccination in the Republic of China, 1930-1949." Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review
8, no. 1 (May 2019).

“Frontiers of Immunology: Medical Migrations to Yunnan, Vaccine Research, and Public Health during the War with Japan, 1937-1949.” In China and the Globalization of Biomedicine, edited by David Luesink, Zhang Daqing, and William Schneider. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2019.

'Western Medical Education on Trial: The Endurance of Peking Union Medical College, 1949–1960', Twentieth-Century China 40 (2015): 126–145.

Chinese translation: "放归国有之后的北京协和医学院,” in 《协和百年纪念文集》(The Legacy of PUMC: Centennial Essays), ed. Jiang Yuhong 蒋育红 and Mary Brown Bullock, 326-41. Beijing: Zhongguo xiehe yike daxue chubanshe, 2017.


Review of Public Health and the Modernization of China, 1865-2015 by Bu Liping, Social History of Medicine. Published online 1 March 2019.

Review of Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Scientific Farming in Socialist China by Sigrid Schmalzer, Journal of Asian Studies 76, no. 4 (2017): 4-5.

Review of Historical Epistemology and the Making of Modern Chinese Medicine edited by Howard Chiang, Isis 107, no. 4 (2016): 819-20.

Review of Farewell to the God of Plague: Chairman Mao's Campaign to Deworm China by Miriam Gross, East Asian Science, Technology, and Society 10 (2016): 1-4.

Review of Saving Lives in Wartime China: How Medical Reformers Built Modern Healthcare Systems Amid War and Epidemics, 1928–1945 by John Robertson Watt, Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 8 (2015): 491–493.

Review of Barefoot Doctors and Western Medicine in China by Fang Xiaoping, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 69 (2014): 343–345.


"Developing the first smallpox vaccine," interview with The Naked Scientists podcast, released 21 May 2019.

"Beyond Brainwashing: Propaganda, Public Health, and Chinese Allegations of Germ Warfare in Manchuria," post on Hidden Persuaders Project, Birkbeck, University of London, 21 November 2016.

Recording of a recent talk at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Centre for History in Public Health: < immunity-mass-vaccination-modern-china-east-asia-1945-75/>