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Dr Erin Connelly, UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship

Datamining Medieval Medical Texts for Modern Medicines

Dr Erin Connelly's Fellowship is an international, interdisciplinary project exploring questions of ethnopharmacology and the antimicrobial efficacy of ingredients from historical and traditional medical sources.

Medieval manuscripts contain numerous remedies for the treatment of microbial infections, and these often involve complex preparations of several ingredients.

Analysing historical recipes in extant medical books

The research involves quantitative analyses of historical recipes in surviving medical books, and empirical tests of the antimicrobial activity of remedies inspired by historical combinations. Using network analysis tools to analyse medieval medical texts is a new way to identify potentially effective ingredient combinations. This is a novel route to developing new antimicrobial therapeutics in a time of increasing antimicrobial resistance.


Lylye of Medicynes, Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 1505.

'Urine Wheel' from a medieval doctor's belt book (Free Library of Philadelphia, The Rosenbach, MS 1004 29).

Prior to her Fellowship, Dr Connelly worked on a number of collaborative, interdisciplinary projects. These included digitisation and creation of metadata for around 400 medieval manuscripts (Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis), analysis of stains in medieval manuscripts using multi-spectral imaging (Labeculae vivae), Datamining the Lylye of Medicynes, and the APEX supported project Nettles and Networks.

Further Reading