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Teresa Hollerbach

Teresa Hollerbach submitted her PhD thesis at the Technical University of Berlin in June 2020 and is awaiting her PhD defense. Her doctoral research, “Sanctorius Reconsidered: A New Look on the Origins of Quantification in Medicine,” which she conducted at the MPIWG, examines the work of the Venetian physician Sanctorius Sanctorius (1561–1636) who, at the turn of the seventeenth century, developed instruments to measure and to quantify physiological change.

As trivial as quantitative assessment with regard to health issues might seem to us today – in times of fitness trackers and smart watches – it was a highly innovative step at the time. With his instruments, Sanctorius introduced quantitative research into physiology. In her dissertation, Teresa examines Sanctorius and his work in the broader perspective of processes of knowledge transformation in early modern medicine. Adopting a material culture perspective, her research draws upon the contemporary reconstruction of Sanctorius’ most famous instrument: the Sanctorian weighing chair.

Currently Teresa focuses on the clarification of the role of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (MPIB) in the pedophile debate in West Germany of the 1960s and 1970s. In June 2020, the University of Hildesheim published a report on Helmut Kentler’s work in Berlin’s child and youth welfare service (in German) which refers to the MPIB in the 1960s and 1970s as part of a “network” in which “pedophile positions were accepted, supported, and defended.” This allegation prompted the MPIB to systematically investigate into the matter in cooperation with the MPIWG. The Hildesheim report does not provide any reliable information on this.


  • –present
    Research Scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science