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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Staff and Governance

To contact the IMEMS administrative office please use the following details:

For the Administrator (maternity cover)


T: 0191 334 6574

For the Administrative Assistant


T: 0191 334 42974


Associate Director (World Heritage): Professor Robin Coningham - view profile

Associate Director: Professor Barbara Ravelhofer - view profile

Core Staff

The day-to-day running of IMEMS is the responsibility of the Core Executive Committee, comprising the Director and Associate Directors and the Administrator. 

Publication details

Pranghofer, S. & Maehle, A.-H. (2006). Limits of professional secrecy: medical confidentiality in England and Germany in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 31(3): 231-244.

Author(s) from Durham


Among patients as well as doctors it is commonly held that confidentiality has been the foundation of the therapeutic relationship since the introduction of the Hippocratic oath. Nevertheless, medical confidentiality is a controversial issue, for example in current debates on HIV/AIDS, especially with regard to the question whether sexual contacts of patients infected with HIV should be warned by doctors. Consequentialist arguments are used to justify a breach of confidence to protect other people's health, as well as to defend absolute secrecy to maintain mutual trust between patient and doctor. This article discusses the history of the debates on medical confidentiality from the nineteenth century onwards in England and Germany. Comparing the debates in these two countries shows that the issue was not confined to national borders. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the debates depended not merely on ethical arguments, but were strongly influenced by public health policies, in particular regarding venereal disease prevention, by legislation, politics and the status of the medical profession. Differences in legislation and in the social standing of the medical profession in England and Germany in particular distinguish the development of the debates in the two countries.

Full Executive Committee

Our Full Executive Committee is made up of the Core Executive Committee, listed above, plus a number of executive members including:

International Advisory Board

We are extremely fortunate to have be able to call on the help and guidance of colleagues from around the world who help to shape and guide our direction, strategy and international reach. Our current Advisory Board members are: