You are here


An interdisciplinary panel discussion on COVID-19 featuring RSC COVID-19 Task Force Member and pandemic historian Dr. Esyllt Jones, along with public health physician and scientist, Dr. Doug Manuel, and historian Dr. Christopher Rutty.

 Online Webinar - June 29, 2020 3:00-4:00PM in EDT

Scientists are modelling several scenarios for a next wave; historians know how some of these scenarios have played out, especially related to the Spanish flu of 1918-19. This panel is not about prediction, but rather helping us frame rapidly evolving conditions and the emergence of new problems over the next months - social inequities coming to the surface, the need to maintain trust in health institutions, growing publc unrest and resistance of many forms, and the complex discourse around vaccines. In the media today, we see scientists seeking some of these insights from history; while historians are using the present crisis to ask new questions of the past. We want to bring these experts together in one conversation.  



Esyllt Jones, PhD, is a historian of health and disease, whose work has focused on the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic. She is the author of Influenza 1918: Disease, Death and Struggle in Winnipeg, and co-editor with Magda Fahrni (UQAM) of Epidemic Encounters: Influenza, Culture and Society in Canada. Her current research examines the history of models for health organization and delivery in Canada, and the emergence of medicare. Dr. Jones is a member of the Department of History, and the Department of Community Health Sciences at University of Manitoba. She is Dean of Studies at St John’s College.

Christopher J. Rutty is a professional medical historian with special expertise on the history of public health, infectious diseases and biotechnology in Canada, earning his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in the Department of History in 1995, with his dissertation on the history of poliomyelitis in Canada (supervised by Professor Michael Bliss). Dr. Rutty has provided a wide range of historical research, writing, consulting and creative services to a variety of clients through his company, Health Heritage Research Services (including curating major exhibits on the discovery of insulin and the history of vaccines in Canada), and is currently Lead Historian for the Defining Moments Canada "Insulin2021" national digital commemoration project. Dr. Rutty also holds an Adjunct Professor appointment in UofT’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, based in the Division of Clinical Public Health and the Centre for Vaccine Preventable Diseases.

Doug Manuel, MD, MSc, FRCPC is a Senior Scientist at that Ottawa Hospital and a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and the School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa. His research uses big health data to examine and model the health of populations for infectious and chronic diseases. He has a Royal College specialization in Public Health and Preventive Medicine. Dr. Manuel has been a primary care physician for 25 years, serving rural, remote and under-serviced populations across Canada. He has been a practitioner and researcher for infectious disease outbreaks throughout his career.


David Pantalony, PhD, is Curator of Physical Sciences and Medicine at Ingenium: Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation, where he was recently lead curator of the new Science and Medicine Gallery at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. David is Adjunct Professor in History at the University of Ottawa.