We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Research & business

View Profile

Professor Jane Macnaughton, MA, PhD, DRCOG, MRCGP

Professor of Medical Humanities in the Department of Anthropology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 48164
Research Associate in the Department of English Studies

Contact Professor Jane Macnaughton (email at


Jane Macnaughton is Professor of Medical Humanities at Durham University in the UK and Director of the University’s Institute for Medical Humanities (IMH). She has been centrally involved in the development of medical humanities in the UK since 1998. She was part of the core group that set up the Association for Medical Humanities in 2000 with support from the Nuffield Trust and was its inaugural Secretary. She edited the journal Medical Humanities from 2002-2008. The Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research was established on the back of a meeting Jane initiated and chaired at Durham in February 2013 with the purpose of strengthening the visibility of medical humanities research and encouraging collaboration across universities in the North of England and Scotland. 

Jane currently holds two large awards from Wellcome: a Development Grant for the Institute for Medical Humanities. and a Senior Investigator Award for her project, the Life of Breath. She sits on the Wellcome Trust Expert Review Group for established career awards in medical humanities. Her research focusses on the idea of the ‘symptom’: its initial appearance, development and evolution in connection with medical contexts, habits and technologies. 

Until August 2017 when Medicine moved to Newcastle University, Jane was Dean of Undergraduate Medicine at Durham University. She is now Professor in the Anthropology Department and interested in supervising work on the nature of clinical interactions, the development of symptoms, including breathlessness and symptoms relating to women’s health. She is a member of the Department’s Research Committee and the Anthropology of Health Research Group. She is involved in the University’s Equality and Diversity strategy as a member of the Institutional Athena SWAN Committee and the University’s Bullying and Harassment Network. She continues to be clinically active and is an Honorary Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University Hospital of North Durham working in colposcopy.

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Research Interests

  • Medical humanities
  • Embodied and emergent symptoms
  • Movement and health
  • Breath and breathlessness
  • Epistemologies of health research

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Macnaughton, J. & Carel, H. (2016). ‘Breathing and breathlessness in clinic and culture: using critical medical humanities to bridge an epistemic gap’. In The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities. Whitehead, A., Woods, A., Atkinson, S., Macnaughton, J. & Richards, J. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 294-309.
  • Macnaughton, J. (2015). ‘Elegant’ Surgery: The Beauty of Clinical Expertise. In The Recovery of Beauty: Arts, Culture, Medicine. Saunders, C., Macnaughton, J. & Fuller, D. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. 175-198.
  • Macnaughton J (2013). Becoming. In Medical Humanities Companion: Prognosis. Gordon J, Macnaughton J & Rudebeck CE Oxford: Radcliffe Publishing. 4: 53-56.
  • Macnaughton, J (2013). On Treatment and its effects. In Medical Humanities Companion: Treatment. Louhiala, P, Heath, I & Saunders, J Oxford Radcliffe Publishing. 3: 1-16.
  • Evans, HM & Macnaughton, Jane (2010). Intimacy and distance in the clinical examination. In Medical Humanities Companion Volume 2. Ahlzen R, Evans M, Louhiala P & Puustinen R Oxford: Radcliffe Publishing. 2: 89-107.
  • Macnaughton, J (2009). Flesh Revealed: medicine, art and anatomy. In The Body and the Arts. Saunders, C, Maude, U & Macnaughton, J London Palgrave. 72-86.
  • Macnaughton, J (2008). Seeing ourselves: interpreting the visual signs of illness. In Medical Humanities Companion Volume 1: Symptom. Evans, M, Ahlzen, R, Heath, I & Macnaughton, J Oxford: Radcliffe. 1: 71-85.
  • Macnaughton, R. J. (2003). Clinical Judgement. In Oxford Textbook of Primary Medical Care. Jones, R., Britten, N., Culpepper, L., Gass, D. A., Grol, R., Mant, D. & Silagy, C. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1: 205-209.
  • Macnaughton, RJ (2002). Arts and humanities in medical education. In GP Tomorrow. Oxford: Radcliffe Medical Press.
  • Macnaughton, RJ (2001). Why medical humanities now?. In Medical Humanities. Evans, HM & Finlay, IG London: Blackwell BMJ Books. 187-203.
  • Downie, RS & Macnaughton, RJ (1999). Public morality and moral education. In Advances in Bioethics: Bioethics for Medical Education. Edwards, RB & Bittar, EE Connecticut USA: JAI Press. 5: 17-30.
  • Downie, RS & Macnaughton, RJ (1998). Can we teach medical students to be morally good doctors? In Advances in Bioethics. Evans, HM Connecticut USA: JAI Press.
  • Downie, RS & Macnaughton, RJ (1998). Public Health and Ethics. In Progress in Public Health. Scally, G London: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Macnaughton, RJ (1998). The value of anecdote in clinical practice. In Narrative Based Medicine. Greenlaugh, T & Hurwitz, B London: BMJ Books.

Edited book

Journal Article


Show all publications


Selected Grants

  • 2019: NIHR Applied Research Collaboration - North East and North Cumbria (£237609.00 from National Institute for Health Research)