Miller Center

Dominique Tobbell

History of Sociology and Science, University of Pennsylvania

Pharmaceutical Networks: The Political Economy of Drug Development in the United States, 1945–1980

Tobbell photo

Dominique Tobbell is Assistant Professor in the Program in the History of Medicine at the University of Minnesota.

Tobbell is a historian of twentieth century medicine and biomedical science and technology with a particular interest in the history of pharmaceuticals, health policy, and academic medicine.

Tobbell's dissertation examined the drug industry's efforts to build political support for itself in the second half of the 20th century and defeat the more radical agendas of pharmaceutical reformers. Critical to this effort was the industry's strategy of offering to the medical and academic communities solutions to their shared problems. These problems included a growing manpower problem in the pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences and the increasing authority of the FDA – and the government more generally – over medical practice. In this way, the current political economy of drug development, and in particular the political culture that sustains it, can be seen as having evolved through the mutually beneficial relations of industry and key sectors of the biomedical community.

Fellowship year: 2008

Mentor: Dan Carpenter, Harvard University

Selected Recent Publications

"'Coming to Grips with the Nursing Question': The Politics of Nursing Education Reform in 1960s' America.Nursing History Review 22 (2014): 37-60. 

"Plow, Town, and Gown: The Politics of Family Practice in 1960s' America.Bulletin of the History of Medicine 87, no. 4 (2013).

Pills, Power, and Policy: The Struggle for Drug Reform in Cold War America and its Consequences (University of California Press, 2012).

"Pharmaceutical Politics and Regulatory Reform in Postwar America." in Kim Phillips-Fein and Julian E. Zelizer, eds. What's Good for Business: Business and American Politics since World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

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