Prof Virginia Berridge

Professor of History and Health Policy

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom


I am a social historian with a first degree and a PhD in history, both from the University of London. I have worked in historical and non-historical settings, at the Addiction Research Unit, Institute of Psychiatry and the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. I was scientific secretary to the cross department and research council Drug Addiction Research Initiative. I joined the School in 1988 as Co-Director of the AIDS Social History Programme. The current School History Centre of which I was first Director,has developed from that initial programme. I am currently deputy chair of the London Drugs Commission reporting to the Mayor. I work part time at the School.

I am a Fellow of the Academy of Social Science and honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and of the Royal College of Physicians.

My current research encompasses both epidemic and chronic disease histories of public health. I have been active in several collaborations relating COVID and history. My book on e-cigarettes history and evidence comparing the US,UK and Australia, has just been published.


Department of Public Health, Environments and Society
Faculty of Public Health and Policy


Centre for Evaluation
Antimicrobial Resistance Centre


I teach on

Drugs Alcohol and Tobacco ; and History and Health


COVID and history

Epidemics including HIV/AIDS and swine flu

Public health history

Tobacco and smoking, e- cigarettes

Drugs and addiction


Evidence and policy

History and policy

My personal research interest is in the changes in post World War Two public health policy. Topic based research includes smoking policy;drug policy (illicit); alcohol policy; the role of the media; HIV/AIDS policy; and the relationship between evidence, including history, and policy. My book -Demons. Our changing attitudes to alcohol, tobacco and drugs (OUP, 2013) and Public Health. A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2016) cover these interests. I recently published E-cigarettes and the comparative politics of harm reduction : History Evidence and Policy (Palgrave,2023)

I was work package leader for an EU framework 7 programme ALICE-RAP on addiction and lifestyles which ended in March 2016.We researched addiction through the ages, specifically cross national differences in the terminology of addiction from the mid nineteenth century ;and the role of international agencies such as WHO and EMCDDA in establishing core concepts. A book has been published based on this research.

Hellman, Berridge Duke and Mold, Concepts of Addictive substances across time and place (OUP, 2016)

As part in the Wellcome Trust funded programme of research on 'Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000' led by Professor Hilary Marland of the University of Warwick and Dr Catherine Cox of University College Dublin,a project with Dr Janet Weston as research fellow examined the recent history of HIV/AIDS in prisons in England and Ireland. A witness seminar based on this research has taken place.

I led Wellcome Trust funded research on electronic cigarettes: history evidence and policy with collaborators in Australia and the US.I act as historical consultant on an AHRC funded project on AMR and history .I am editor of the Addiction Lives series of oral history interviews published by the journal Addiction and the Society for the Study of Addiction.……

During the COVID pandemic I was involved in a British Academy working party on responses to the pandemic and also contributed to a History Workshop Online blog.

I am also working on a British Academy policy overview of health policy

Research Area
Health policy
Public health
Science policy
Substance use
History of public health
Disease and Health Conditions
Pandemic diseases
Cardiovascular diseases
Sexually transmitted infections
United Kingdom
Europe & Central Asia (all income levels)
European Union

Selected Publications

The problems of commissioned oral history: the swine flu ' crisis' of 2009
Journal of the Oral History Society
Infiltrating history into the public health curriculum.
Journal of public health
Why policy needs history (and historians).
Health economics, policy, and law
Reframing the science and policy of nicotine, illegal drugs and alcohol - conclusions of the ALICE RAP Project.
Anderson, P; BERRIDGE, V; Conrod, P; Dudley, R; Hellman, M; Lachenmeier, D; Lingford-Hughes, A; Miller, D; Rehm, J; Room, R; Schmidt, L; Sullivan, R; Ysa, T; Gual, A;
Concepts of Addictive Substances and Behaviors across Time and Place
Hellman, M; BERRIDGE, V; Duke, K; MOLD, A;
Oxford University Press
WHO expert committees and key concepts for drugs, alcohol and tobacco, 1949-2013
Taylor, S; BERRIDGE, V; MOLD, A;
Concepts of Addictive Substances and Behaviours across Time and Place
Addiction in Europe, 1860s–1960s
BERRIDGE, V; MOLD, A; Beccaria, F; Eisenbach-Stangl, I; Herczyńska, G; Moskalewicz, J; Petrilli, E; TAYLOR, S;
Contemporary Drug Problems
Electronic cigarettes and history.
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