Dr. Tobbell’s scholarship focuses on the complex political, economic, and social relationships that developed after World War II between universities, governments, and the healthcare industry and that continue to impact modern-day systems.

She is the author of Pills, Power, and Policy: The Struggle for Drug Reform in Cold War America and its Consequences (University of California Press, 2012), and Health Informatics at Minnesota: The First Fifty Years (Tasora Books, 2015). Her forthcoming book, Dr. Nurse: Science, Politics, and the Transformation of American Nursing (University of Chicago Press), examines American nurses’ more expansive roles in the post-World War II era.

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.

A board member of the American Association for the History of Nursing, Dr. Tobbell has earned fellowships from the Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, UVA’s Miller Center, the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center, and the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy.

Originally from the United Kingdom, 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.


Journal Articles

Tobbell, D. (2022). Book review: Nursing the nation: Building the nurse labor force by Jean C. Whelan. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 96(3), 461-463.

Tobbell, D. (2022). Comment: Toward a history of health care: Repositioning the histories of nursing and medicine. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 96(3), 321-329.

Tobbell, D. (2022). A role for history in inclusive nursing education. Journal of Nursing Education, 61(8), 469-475.

D'Antonio, P., Tobbell, D., Milbrath, G. (2022). Including a historical lens in the National Institute for Nursing Research Strategic Plan. Research in Nursing & Health, 45(1), 6-7.

Tobbell, D. A. (2021). Book review of Talking therapy: Knowledge and power in American psychiatric nursing by Kylie M. Smith. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 95(2), 264-265.

Craddock, S. L., & Tobbell, D. (2021). Global health and pharmacology. Frontiers in Sociology, 6(765172), 1-7.

Flynn, K. C., Reverby, S., Smith, K. M., & Tobbell, D. (2021). "The thing behind the thing": White supremacy and interdisciplinary faculty in schools of nursing. Nursing Outlook, 69(4), 502-504.

Tobbell, D. A. (2018). Nursing's boundary work: Theory development and the making of nursing science, 1950-1980. Nursing Research, 67(2), 63-73.

Tobbell, D. A. (2016). Clinical pharmacy: An example of interprofessional education in the late 1960s and 1970s. Nursing History Review, 24, 98-102.

Tobbell, D. A. (2016). Teaching with oral histories. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 90, 128-135.

Tobbell, D. A. (2016). Teaching medical history with primary sources: Introduction. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 90, 124-127.

Tobbell, D. A. (2014). 'Coming to grips with the nursing question': The politics of nursing education reform in 1960s' America. Nursing History Review, 22, 37-60.

Tobbell, D. A. (2013). Plow, town, and gown: The politics of family practice in 1960s' America. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 87(4), 648-680.

Tobbell, D. A., Carpenter, D.P. (2011). Bioequivalence: The regulatory career of a pharmaceutical concept. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 85(1), 93-131.

Tobbell, D. A. (2009). Pharmaceutical networks: The political economy of drug development in the United States, 1945-1980. Enterprise and Society, 10(4), 675-686.

Tobbell, D. A. (2009). "Who's winning the human race?" Cold war as pharmaceutical political strategy. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 64(4), 429-473.

Tobbell, D. A. (2008). Allied against reform: Pharmaceutical industry-academic physician relations in the United States, 1945-1970. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 82(4), 878-912.

Tobbell, D. A., Middleton, B. J., Raines, S., Needham, M. R., Taylor, I. W., Beveridge, J. Y., & Abbott, W. M. (2002). Identification of in vitro folding conditions for Procathepsin S and Cathepsin S using fractional factorial screens. Protein Expression and Purification, 24(2), 242-254.


Tobbell, D. (2022). Dr. Nurse: Science, politics, and the transformation of American nursing. University of Chicago Press.

Tobbell, D. A. (2015). Health informatics at Minnesota: The first fifty years. Tasora Books.

Tobbell, D. A. (2012). Pills, power and policy: The struggle for drug reform in cold war America and its consequences. University of California Press/Milbank Series on Health and the Public.

Book Sections

Tobbell, D. A. (2012). Pharmaceutical politics and regulatory reform in post-war America. In J. Zelizer & K. Philips-Fein (Eds.), What's good for business: Business and politics since World War II (pp. 123-139). Oxford University Press

Tobbell, D. A. (2012). 'Eroding the physician's control over therapy': The post-war politics of the prescription. In E. Watkins & J. Greene (Eds.), Prescribed: Writing, filling, using, and abusing the prescription in modern America (pp. 66-90). Johns Hopkins Press

Tobbell, D. A. (2010). Charitable innovations: The political economy of Thalassemia research and drug development in the United States, 1960-2000. In J. Slinn & V. Quirke (Eds.), Perspectives on twentieth century pharmaceuticals (pp. 303-337). Peter Lang AG

Edited Books

Tobbell, D. A., & Craddock, S. (Eds.). (2021). Troubling access: Global health and pharmacology.. Frontiers Journals.

Columns, Editorials and Op-Eds

Tobbell, D., & D’Antonio, P. (2022, May 1). The history of racism in nursing: A review of existing scholarship. National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing.

Technical and Research Reports

Tobbell, D., D’Antonio, P. (2022). May. (1).