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Medicine and the Humanities: two graduates present their research

On April 2, 2024, two alumni of the Medicine and Humanities program presented their research work at the closing session of the annual seminar. The event, organized by the Fondation de l’ENS, was an opportunity to highlight the students’ work as part of their research dissertations at the ENS, and provided an opportunity for exchanges between patrons and students in the program.

After an introduction by Emmanuel Didier (professor and program director), Lyn Badra, graduating in 2023, provided some answers on how to include patient origin in gestational diabetes screening in France and abroad. Anna Gratesac, who graduated in 2023, presented her research and reflections on the subject of neonatal screening for sickle-cell anemia: the politics of genetics and race.

The event also marked the end of the interdisciplinary seminar which began in January on the theme “Do patients have an origin?”. Every semester, the Medicine-Humanities seminar offers a cross-disciplinary approach to the “medical humanities” by inviting biologists, psychologists and sociologists from a variety of higher education establishments.

The event was also an opportunity for Emmanuel Didier to sum up the seminar: “In France, citizens are defined by the Constitution as being equal before the law. This definition is deeply rooted in the nation’s political imagination and institutions. But what about patients? In the field of medicine and healthcare, does their origin play a role? Aren’t certain medical conditions specific to certain patient origins? Do we treat them all in the same way, whatever their origins? How are data concerning them processed? But then, are all patients equal when it comes to care? These are just some of the questions the seminar sought to answer: by first defining the notion of origin and its history, it helped us better understand how the healthcare system articulates the political equality of citizens with the origins of patients.”

Thanks to the support of the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, AXA and MGEN, the program has welcomed classes of five medical students each year since 2018 to pursue a master’s degree in the humanities at ENS-PSL. The three-year double curriculum aims to complement the training of future caregivers by bringing a social and ethical dimension to their approach to medicine.

Each year, candidates are selected by competitive examination and receive a monthly scholarship of 1,000 euros for the duration of their studies. In the first year, they take medical courses and learn about the humanities. In the third year, students resume their medical studies alongside the humanities master’s degree.

“The students’ presentations this evening showed the high level of teaching in the Medicine and Humanities program, which goes beyond healthcare and integrates various fields of study. We look forward to following the careers of the program’s students,” remarked Amélie Moritz, Head of Health Sponsorship at AXA France.

“I’m delighted to see that future doctors are learning about the humanities, which is fundamental to preparing the future of healthcare. The subject of this seminar is particularly relevant to us: health inequalities are an important issue that MGEN also addresses,” said Stefan Gouzouguec, Vice-Chairman of MGEN.

“The Medicine and Humanities program at the École normale supérieure offers a high-level mixed curriculum, articulated with medical studies, for in-depth training in research in one of the Humanities disciplines (literature, philosophy, sciences of antiquity, history, history of the arts, geography, social sciences, economics), with a network of prestigious partners: PSL, APHP, Institut Curie, Institut Pasteur and Université Paris-Cité,” explains Anne Christophe, deputy director of sciences at ENS-PSL. “It offers medical students the opportunity to prepare for their profession, in which the medical humanities are increasingly mobilized, from clinical cases and healthcare relationships to the most general ethical and political issues.”

The support of our sponsors is crucial to the long-term future of this training program, which is unique in France. Support the Médecine-Humanités program now.