Research Areas

Health Policy in Los Angeles County

In the past 50 years, through the initiative and efforts of clinicians and staff, social workers, advocates, family members, and people with mental illness themselves, Los Angeles County has endeavored to help those lost in darkness to find their way back to secure and rewarding lives. But what has been done is not yet enough.  Our programs trace the history of mental health in LA and study the development and effectiveness of today’s policies and programs:


History of Psychiatry and Neuroscience

We have a number of ongoing research projects in the history of psychiatry and neuroscience. The common theme in these projects is to make sense of contemporary practices—whether psychiatric treatment, psychiatric science or neuroscientific practices—within a historical context. Currently, we have projects focusing on the history of schizophrenia (Braslow, A Clinical History of Schizophrenia, Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming) and the making of modern neuroscience (Braslow, Meldrum, Selya). These projects are funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Society for Neuroscience.


Science Policy Studies

A collaboration between neuroscientists, historians, and sociologists, we are examining the last fifty years of neuroscience policy and funding. Our major aims are to: 1. Develop a means to assess what counts as effective and ineffective neuroscience that is sensitive to time, place and scientific maturity of any given subfield; 2. Apply findings from aim 1 to selected neuroscience research domains; 3. Assess the impact of funding mechanisms and laboratory structure on the extent to which scientific activities have proven successful. 




Pain in Historical and Social Contexts

Pain, a philosophical and human problem throughout history, was only recognized as a scientific and medical question in its own right in the 2nd half of the 20th century, with the publication of John Bonica's The Management of Pain in 1953, the introduction of the gate control model in 1965 and the founding of the International Association for the Study of Pain in 1973.  Despite the rich harvest of research since that time, millions of Americans and people around the world still struggle with chronic, unexplained pain, the lack of access to effective opioids and other treatments and the accompanying physical disability, psychological suffering and social stigma.  The Liebeskind History of Pain Collection is the world's premier collection of documents and other materials for the study of the history of pain in all its facets.