In her PhD project, Jolien Gijbels studies the role and the later memory of ideological conflict in 19th-century Belgian medicine. Her research provides answers to two sets of research questions. Firstly, she is studying both the clashing ideological views of Catholic and liberal physicians, and their willingness to bypass ideological disagreements within scientific exchange. To tackle this question, her research focuses on the medical subfield of obstetrics and gynecology. The second set of research questions concerns professional identity formation. How and when did physicians develop both common and ideologically specific professional and/or scholarly identities? By answering both questions, her PhD project offers a well-informed historical perspective to actual bioethical discussions concerning abortion, reproduction or the boundaries of medical research in which religiously and/or philosophically inspired divides are at stake.

In her postdoctoral research, Valérie Leclercq is researching medical knowledge about human consciousness and the human self in the 19th century, and questioning the influence of polarizing political or religious ideologies in the construction of such knowledge.