Prof. Dr. Dr. Alfons Labisch

Medical historian | Rector emeritus | Honorary Professor / Heinrich-Heine-University | Bejing Foreign Studies University

Alfons Labisch studied history and social sciences, philosophy, Latin and human medicine at the RWTH Aachen University and the University of Cologne. After receiving his doctorate in ancient history in Aachen in 1974, he completed his studies in sociology with the Magister Artium and his medical studies with the licence to practise medicine. In 1982 he received his doctorate in medicine in Aachen. 1979 he became professor for health policy and medical sociology at the University of Kassel, where he habilitated in 1990. In the following year Alfons Labisch was appointed to the chair for the history of medicine at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. Since 1993, he has also been a second member of the Faculty of Philosophy and has positioned the history of medicine in Düsseldorf as an interdisciplinary link between the medical and philosophical faculties.

From 1997 to 1998 he was president of the Society for Social History of Medicine, London. From 1997 to 2000 he was chairman of the German Society for the History of Medicine. From 1998 to 2002 Alfons Labisch was vice-dean and in the following year dean of the Medical Faculty of the Heinrich Heine University. During this time, the new licensing regulations for doctors were introduced, combined with a reform of medical studies. From 2003 to 2008 he was rector of the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf.

Since 2004, Alfons Labisch has been a member of the Leopoldina - National Academy of Sciences and was committed to the 2012 foundation of the Leopoldina Study Centre (Centre for Science Studies), which he accompanied as spokesman until 2019. 

Since 2011 he is an honorary member of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters Hanban, Beijing, since 2016 university professor honorary of the Beijing Foreign Studies University VR China and since 2019 distinguished professor for global history of science and medicine of the Beijing Foreign Studies University.

He has published numerous works in the field of social history of public health and hospital systems. Further research focuses on long-term developments in the interrelationship of medicine and society via the notion and definition of health, for example using the example of malaria research, including the historical and current conditions of medical thinking and medical action. In addition, he is concerned with knowledge transfer between Europe and East Asia in a long-term perspective and with different concepts of modernity. A further field of research was the comparative social and cultural history of physical activity and the history of science of movement research.