Dora Vargha’s work focuses on the intersections of history of science, medicine and technology, gender and disability, and on using the locality of Eastern Europe to approach global public health issues. She is currently working on global polio vaccine development and testing in the early Cold War era and is finishing her book manuscript tentatively titled Iron Curtain, Iron Lungs: Governing Polio in the Cold War. She completed her PhD at Rutgers University in Modern European and Women and Gender History in 2013. Her dissertation was awarded the Young Scholar Book Prize 2014 by the International Committee of the History of Technology and in 2016 she received the J. Worth Estes prize from the American Association for the History of Medicine (AAHM).

Dora is founding editor and contributor of the Central and Eastern European History of Medicine Network Blog. She has been a research fellow at the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine; the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin; an Excellence Fellow at the Institute for Health, Health Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University; dissertation research fellow at the Philadelphia Area Center for the History of Science (PACHS); has received a Wellcome Trust Small Grant, the Mellon Dissertation Writing Fellowship and the Karen Johnson Freeze fellowship for Early Career scholars in the history of technology in Eastern Europe.

Since September 2016, Dora has relocated to the University of Exeter, where she is lecturer in medical humanities. She will keep on being involved in the Reluctant Internationalists until the project’s completion.

Research | Blog postsProfile and contact details

Selected publications

  • After the End of Disease: Rethinking the Epidemic Narrative. Introductory post to series, After the End of Disease, Somatosphere, May 17, 2016
  • “Socialist utopia in practice: everyday life and medical authority in a Hungarian polio hospital”, Social History of Medicine, 2017
  • “Grey-market medicines: Diphtheria antitoxin and the decay of biomedical infrastructure” (with J. Greene), Lancet, The, Elsevier, 2017
  • Beyond Liberal Internationalism” (with Ana Antic and Johanna Conterio) Contemporary European History, vol. 25, no. 2., May 2016
  • Cold War conspiracies and suspect polio preventionOpenDemocracy, September 16, 2015
  • Los antivacunas y el pasado fascista de España. (With David Bryan) El País, June 12, 2015
  • “Vaccination and the Paternal State: Polio in Eastern Europe” in Christine Holmberg, Peter Greenough and Stuart Blume eds. The Politics of Vaccination: A Global History, Studies for the Society of the Social History of Medicine, Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 2017
  • “Where is the poster child? Polio and disability in Hungary” in Catherine Kudlick, Kim Nielsen, and Michael Rembis eds. Oxford Handbook of Disability History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, (forthcoming)
  • “Outbreaks of Disease and War: Polio’s History with Conflict”  The Guardian, May 8, 2014
  • “Between East and West: Polio Vaccination Across the Iron Curtain in Cold War Hungary“, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 88, no. 2., Summer 2014
  • Baby boom and epidemics: pro-natalism and polio in Hungary” CEEHM Network Blog, April 23, 2013
  • Polio Vaccination in Cold War Hungary in The History of Vaccines Blog – A Project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, March 21, 2011
  • “Kaffka, Margit.” In Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History. Edited by Bonnie Smith. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007
  • “The Medicalization of Sin. The body of the prostitute in 19th century Hungarian medical discourse.” In: Budapesti Negyed (Budapest Quarterly) 47-48/2005 [in Hungarian language]