Tobbell, PhD

Dr. Tobbell’s research examines the complex political, economic, and social relationships that developed among academic institutions, governments, and the health care industry in the decades after World War II and assesses the implications of those relationships for the current health care system. 

Dr. Tobbell’s latest book, Dr. Nurse: Science, Politics, and the Transformation of American Nursing (University of Chicago Press, 2022), analyzes the knowledge claims, strategies, and politics involved in the work of American nurses as they negotiated new roles and nursing’s place within universities and academic health centers in the decades after World War II. Dr. Nurse demonstrates the ways in which nurses transformed their labor into a valuable site of knowledge production and proved how application of their knowledge was integral to improving patient outcomes. It also highlights the ways that race and gender shaped nursing’s transformation, the legacies of which continue into the present. Dr. Tobbell is also the author of Pills, Power, and Policy: The Struggle for Drug Reform in Cold War America and its Consequences (University of California Press, 2012), Health Informatics at Minnesota: The First Fifty Years (Minneapolis: Tasora Books, 2015), and co-editor of Troubling Access: Global Health and Pharmacology (Lausanne: Frontiers Media SA, 2021).

Dr. Tobbell has been the recipient of several fellowships, grants, and awards.  She has taught a variety of courses on the history of 20th-century American healthcare, with an emphasis on the ways that race, gender, class, sexuality, and disability determine Americans’ experiences with and access to healthcare.

Dr. Tobbell earned an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Manchester, and both a Master of Art and a PhD in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania.

First Name: 
Centennial Distinguished Professor of Nursing, Director, Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry
Computing ID: 
Office Address: 

University of Virginia School of Nursing
McLeod 5034
225 Jeanette Lancaster Way
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 982-3286