- The Jason A. Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine
- Professor (Joint Appointment with the Department of Surgery)
- Western Faculty Scholar, 2019-2021
Professor McKellar studies the history of medicine and disease, with a special interest in the history of medical technology, instruments and devices, the history of surgery, and medical biography.
Professor McKellar teaches the history of medicine, the medical profession, and related historical aspects of 'doctoring' to medical students in the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry as well as teaches the history of disease and society, including public health initiatives, epidemic outbreaks and social response to undergraduate and graduate history students in the Faculty of Social Science. She advises a number of graduate students, and welcomes inquiries from MA and PhD students interested in the history of medicine and disease.
Major Research Projects
Professor McKellar is currently working on two book projects. (1) In collaboration with Dr David Kenny, DDS 1970, she is co-author of Transforming Dentistry: The Rise and Demise (Almost) of Academic Dentistry at Western University, 1947 to the Present (under contract at UTP). (2) McKellar is in the early stages of a new project, “Cutting as Cure: Objects and Stories in the History of Surgery,” which is an object-centred study exploring how instruments and the act of cutting have shaped our approach to disease.
Professor McKellar also curates the Medical Artifact Collection, which is a university study collection, representative of late 19th- and early to mid-20th century practice and teaching of health and medicine in southwestern Ontario. It can be viewed online at www.medicalhistory.uwo.ca.
Artificial Hearts: The Allure and Ambivalence of a Controversial Medical Technology (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018). 384 pp.
Medicine and Technology in Canada, 1900-1950 . with Allison Kirk-Montgomery. Transformation Series #16 (Ottawa: Canada Science and Technology Museum, 2008). 171 pp.
Surgical Limits: The Life of Gordon Murray (University of Toronto Press, 2003). 270 pp.
Essays in Honour of Michael Bliss: Figuring the Social. Co-edited with Alison Li, Elsbeth Heaman. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008). 491 pp.
Chapters in Books
- “History of Mechanical Circulatory Support,” Mechanical Support for Heart Failure: Current Solutions and New Technologies, edited by Jamshid H. Karimov, Kiyotaka Fukamachi, and Randall C. Starling (Springer Nature, 2020), chapter 1.
- “Disruptive Potential: The ‘Landmark’ REMATCH Trial, Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) Technology and the Surgical Treatment of Heart Failure in the United States”, Technological Change in Modern Surgery: Historical Perspectives on Innovation edited by Thomas Schlich and Christopher Crenner (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2017), 129-155.
- "Medicine and Technology in the United States", The Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of American Science, Medicine, and Technology, edited by Hugh R. Slotten (Oxford University Press, 2014): 73-8.
- “Limitations Exposed: Willem J. Kolff and his Contentious Pursuit of a Mechanical Heart”, in Essays in Honour of Michael Bliss: Figuring the Social , co-edited by Alison Li, Elsbeth Heaman, and Shelley McKellar (University of Toronto Press, 2008): 400-434.
- “Cardiac conditions”, Encyclopedia of Disability edited by Gary L. Albrecht (Sage Press, 2006), pp.219-221.
- “Hearts, artificial”, Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Technology , edited by Colin A. Hempstead and William E. Worthington (New York: Routledge Press, 2005). 2 vols.
- with Justin Barr and Cynthia K. Shortell, “Making Vascular Surgery Work: Gordon Murray, Heparin, and Anastomoses”, Annals of Vascular Surgery, (April 6, 2021)
- “The Value of Multiple Approaches: The Early Years of Artificial Heart Research”, Artificial Organs 42, 5 (May 2018): 473-475.
- “The Promissory Nature of Artificial Hearts”, The Lancet 391,10124 (Mar 10, 2018): 930-931.
- “Clinical Firsts: Christiaan Barnard and Heart Transplantation,” New England Journal of Medicine 377, 23 (Dec 7, 2017): 2211-3.
- “Atomic Hearts: A Decade of U.S. Government-Sponsored Development, 1967-1977”, Physics Today 69, 5 (May 2016): 38-44.
- “Dr William Waugh (1851-1936): Promoter of Change in 19th C Medical Education and Practice”, Canadian Journal of Surgery 59, 2 (April 2016): 143-4.
- “Repairing Hearts: Innovations in Cardiac Surgery", Heritage Matters 14, 1 (Feb 2016): 13-15.
- "Negotiating Risk: The Failed Development of Atomic Hearts in America, 1967-1977", Technology and Culture 54,1 (Jan 2013): 1-39.
- See The Atlantic blog comments by Alexis C. Madrigal.
- Dec 1, 2021 – “’Last Resort' Sentiments and Implications: Cutting, Instruments, and Technology in the History of Surgery” 2021-2 MacLean Interdisciplinary Lecture Series, MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, University of Chicago Medicine [virtual talk]
- Aug 9, 2021 – “Lady Medicos: Dr. Jennie Kidd Trout and the Audacious Feats of Women in Medicine” University Women’s Club of Toronto [virtual talk]
- Apr 6, 2021 – “Cutting as Cure,” New Histories of Medical Technology—A Molina Symposium on the History of Medicine hosted by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the University of Delaware [virtual talk]
- Feb 25, 2021 – “‘The operation occasions so little suffering …’: The Tonsil Guillotine, Tonsil Excision and Surgical Knowledge in the 19th Century,” Medical History Collective, University of Ottawa, Ontario [virtual talk]
- Feb 11, 2021 – “Culture Shock! The Impact of Pandemics” Panelist, Heritage Fair 2021, London Heritage Council [virtual panel]
- Jan 12, 2021 – “Knives, Guillotines or Scissors? Tonsil ‘Cutting’ and Surgical Knowledge in the 19th Century,” Northern Ontario History of Health & Medicine Group and NOSM Surgical Interest Group, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Thunder Bay, Ontario [virtual talk]
- Nov 23, 2020 – “The Decision to Cut: Removing Hearts and Tonsils in the History of Surgery,” Calgary History of Medicine Society (CHoMS), University of Calgary, Alberta [virtual talk]
- Oct 28, 2020 – “Cutting and Pain: The Excision of Tonsils before & after Anaesthesia,” The Ether Day Celebration Lecture, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax NS [virtual talk]
- Oct 15, 2019 -- “Artificial Hearts: Haskell Karp, Dick Cheney and other Sensational Patient Cases,” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC
- Sept 24, 2019 -- " 'Lady Medicos': Dr Jennie Kidd Trout and the Audacious Feats of Women in Medicine," Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Stratford, ON
- Apr 12, 2019 -- “Artificial Hearts: A Controversial Medical Technology and Its Sensational Patient Cases from Barney Clark to Dick Cheney,” Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Displays & Workshops
- Teaching Anatomy and Microscopy at Western, Dept of History, 2nd floor Lawson Hall (2019)
- "Phrenology," "Nurse's Uniform," "Quack Medicine Treatments", Object Profile displays, Lawson Hall, Western U (2015)
- "Wounded! Front-line Medical Care in the First World War", Case display, Lawson Hall and Medical Sciences Building, Western U (2014)
- "Childbirth: Tools of the Physician", Dept of History, 2nd floor Lawson Hall (2013)
- "Behind the Display", Touring the Medical Artifact Collection at Western, Doors Open London (2012)
- "Instruments and Devices: The Material Culture of Medicine", showcasing the Medical Artifact Collection, D.B. Weldon Library, Western (2011)
- “Toothkeys and Forceps: Tools of the Dentist”, “Teaching Anatomy and Microscopy at Western”, “Scalpels and Stethoscopes: The Doctor’s Instruments”, Case displays celebrating the 130th anniversary of Western's Medical School, Medical Sciences Building, Western (2011)
In The News
- Western News - From Cholera to COVID: New course melds past with present
- How can historical medical achievements give us a framework and new approaches for medical care today? [Profile by Jennifer Parraga]
- Dr. Shelley McKellar named as one of Western University’s 2019 Faculty Scholars
- 50 years later, artificial hearts still mesmerize
- McKellar's newest book discussed in The New York Review of Books
- Dr. Shelley McKellar Appointed to the AMS Healthcare Board of Directors
- New book gets to the heart of the matter
- Announcement: Dr. Shelley McKellar has been re-appointed as the Hannah Endowed Chair in the History of Medicine
Awards & Distinctions
- 2019-2021 - Western Faculty Scholar
Award recognizes significant recent scholarly achievements in teaching or research, Office of the President, Western University
- 2010-11, 2012-13 - USC Teaching Honour Roll
Award of Excellence in Teaching, Western University