Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Learning from Alzheimer's Disease

Learning from Alzheimer's Disease

A History of Biomedical Models of Mental Illness


Welcome to the webpage of the junior research group "Learning from Alzheimer's Disease. A History of Biomedical Models of Mental Illness". The group is led by Lara Keuck and is located at the Department of History of the Humboldt University of Berlin. The group is funded through The Branco Weiss Fellowship - Society in Science at ETH Zurich.


Learn more about the project






We are happy to announce two new publications:

  • Keuck, Lara and Freeborn, Alfred (2020). “The Limits of Biomarkers. Contemporary re-phrasings of Canguilhem” In: P.-O. Méthot (ed). The Normal and the Pathological. Writings on Georges Canguilhem. Paris: Hermann Philosophie (collection med phi), 346-367:
  • Keuck, Lara (2020). “A window to act: Revisiting the conceptual foundations of Alzheimer’s disease in dementia prevention” In: A. Leibing, S. Schicktanz (eds.): Preventing old age and decline? Critical observations on aging and dementia. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Publishers, 19-39:


Lara Keuck becomes a member of Die Junge Akademie.

Die Junge Akademie is the first academy of young academics worldwide. It provides interdisciplinary and socially relevant spaces for outstanding young academics from German-speaking countries. Die Junge Akademie was founded in 2000 as a joint project of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Each member is elected for 5 years.


Exciting news: Lara Keuck will lead a Max Planck Research Group on Practices of Validation in the Biomedical Sciences at the Max Planck Institute of the History of Science after the completion of her Branco Weiss Fellowship. For further details, click here.


Lara Keuck contributes a research video to the History of Science ON CALL project of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. This collaborative solidarity project is an initiative of Professor Dagmar Schäfer, Lisa Onaga and Stephanie Hood and disseminates reflections on the role of research in the humanities during the Corona pandemic.


This spring Alfred Freeborn was a Stipendiat at the German Historical Institute London where he carried out further research at the UK National Archives. He presented his doctoral thesis on biological psychiatry in post-WWII Britain and the rediscovery of the schizophrenic brain on 4th February at the GHIL Colloquium.


Talks of the Research Group 2020/21:


The American Philosophical Association (Eastern Division) will host an invited panel with Lara Keuck on "Scope Validity in Medicine" at their 2020 meeting. Lara's contribution will tackle validation problems in biomedical research, and will be discussed by Prof. Miriam Solomon (Philadelphia), Prof. Maël Lemoine (Bordeaux), Prof. Jan-Willem Romeijn (Utrecht) and Dr. Linda Douw (Amsterdam). The panel will be chaired by Prof. Kathryn Tabb (New York).


4 Feburary 2020:

Alfred Freeborn: "The Biological Revolution. Biological Psychiatry in post-WWII Britain and the rediscovery of the schizophrenic brain", GHIL Colloquium, German Historical Institute, UK.


14 – 15 May 2020 (postponed due to the Covid19 pandemic):

Lara Keuck: "The history of a contested disease classification and a new philosophical approach to validity in medicine", Workshop "Contested classifications and their implications", organized by Joeri Witteveen, University of Copenhagen, DK.


20 – 21 August 2020:

Lara Keuck: "Provenance and validity: on retrospective diagnosis and biomedical history", Workshop "Provenance - Interdisciplinary Conversations" organized by Emma Hagström Molin, CIRCUS, University of Uppsala, SWE.


28 August 2020:

Lara Keuck, invited panelist on "Disziplinäre Eigenverortung und disziplinübergreifende Anschlussfähigkeit", organized by Beate Schücking (Rektorin der Universität Leipzig) and Jan Wöpking (German U15), Virtual GAIN20 Conference.


18 – 22 November 2020:

Kathryn Tabb and Lara Keuck: "Scoping Precision Medicine", accepted paper at the symposium "Precision Medicine as Promissiory Science: The Epistemology and Ethics of a "Health Care Revolution" organized by James Tabery and Sara Green, 27th Biennal Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, Baltimore, MD, USA.


15 December 2021:

Lara Keuck, invited panelist on "Historicizing Ableism and Ageism", Institute's Colloquium, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. Video available at


22 April 2021:

Lara Keuck: "Praktiken der Validierung: Zur Methodengeschichte der Biomedizin", Oberseminar des Lehrstuhls für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, LMU München.


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