I am delighted to have been awarded the 2020 Dev Family Annual Book Prize! I look back at my time at Oxford with such joy: there, I was given the freedom to explore my intellectual interests in combination with the support to turn this exploration into solid academic research. My dissertation benefited greatly from this rich intellectual environment, where advisors and professors regularly went out of their way to support my research, and where peers and colleagues inspired me with their own diverse and wide-ranging research projects. I am ultimately interested in pursuing a career in medicine that combines clinical practice with historical scholarship. To this end, since finishing up at Oxford I have returned to the United States to attend medical school at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. I have been spending my spare time outside of the hospital working to revise and expand this dissertation into a book. I came to my dissertation topic – on early efforts to computerize medical diagnosis and decision-making – through my larger interest in bringing history to bear on our understanding of medicine today. As I experienced the implementation of new electronic health records and read about new research on artificial intelligence in medicine, I began to wonder: What was the history of these efforts, claims, and developments? What earlier attempts had been made to introduce computing into medicine? What came of these initiatives? What kinds of changes to medical thinking and clinical practice did they bring about? I am grateful to Oxford for providing an ideal environment for researching these questions – and to the Dev Family Book Prize committee for recognizing this research.
Andrew Lea, November 2020