Prof Catherine Burns is an Associate Professor of Medical History in Africa, and is based in the Centre for Health Science Education, the Department of Family Medicine & Primary Care, and the Adler Museum of Medical History at WITS.  She worked with UCT and UKZN colleagues on the first medical humanities interdisciplinary programme in the Southern African region, and she continues to develop this field.  She was educated at WITS, and then Johns Hopkins University in medical history; later she earned her PhD at Northwestern University, in African History.

Her research and publication interests focus on gender relations, women and health history; medical and health history; the history and ethnography of reproduction and sex and ethics in biomedical research. She is finishing a biography of a midwife and herbalist from the Eastern Cape, Louisa Mvemve; she has just published a history of gynaecology and obstetrics in Johannesburg and  finished a study of breastfeeding in Southern Africa, published by UCL Press; and she is completing a jointly written history of South Africa’s leading HIV programme, the Sinkithemba Centre, at the McCord Hospital in Durban.

She is a deeply committed mentor to emerging scholars and interdisciplinary cohorts, and she has co supervised or supervised across many humanities, social science and scientific fields. She has work as a Commissioner (one of 18) with the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng.