Dora B. Weiner, Professor of the Medical Humanities and History, received her primary education in Germany and her secondary education in Paris where she earned the baccalauréat degree. She majored in European history at Smith College and at Columbia University where her dissertation, under the direction of Jacques Barzun, dealt with Ernest Renan and the cultural and intellectual history of 19th-century France. Focusing increasingly on the history of science, in her teaching, and on the history medicine, in her research, she has become knowledgeable about the history of medicine in France and France’s place as a leader in world medicine.
She has published three monographs: Raspail, Scientist and Reformer (1969), The Citizen-Patient in Revolutionary and Imperial Paris(1993, paperback 2002) and Philippe Pinel (1745-1826) et la médecine de l’esprit (1999, Spanish translation 2002). She also translated, edited, or co-edited From Parnassus: Essays in Honor of Jacques Barzun (1976), The Clinical Training of Doctors: An Essay of 1793 (1980), Jacques Tenon’s ‘Memoirs on Paris Hospitals’(1997), and The World of Dr. Francisco Hernández (2002), a work that deals with a 16th-century Spanish physician and explorer and that grew out of her association with the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. She is now investigating medical education and practice in South America, particularly in Peru where the influence of France as a model inspired fundamental modernization, beginning in the Enlightenment.
The goal of her writing and teaching has been to bring the history of medicine into the mainstream: to convince colleagues, readers and students that the history of health and healing, of epidemics and hospitals, of physicians, surgeons, nurses and patients is part of social, cultural, and even of economic and political history. With this goal in mind, she has published numerous articles and reviews, in English and French, on the history of public health, the nursing profession and the politics of health in 18th and 19th-century
With a joint appointment in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and in the Department of History, she has been able to teach in the Medical School, the History Department, the Professional Schools Seminar Program and the Honors Collegium. She now offers an upper-division, two-quarter lecture course on “The Historic Roots of the Healing Arts” [Hippocrates to the Renaissance], “The Foundations of Modern Medicine” [Vesalius to the Romantic Era], a seminar on “Madness in the Enlightenment: The Care and Cure of Mental Illness” and a graduate research seminar in" The Politics of Health".