Teresa Hollerbach

Research Scholar (Aug 2020-May 2022)

Teresa Hollerbach submitted her PhD thesis at the Technical University of Berlin in June 2020 and is awaiting her PhD defense. Her doctoral research, “Sanctorius Reconsidered: A New Look on the Origins of Quantification in Medicine,” which she conducted at the MPIWG, examines the work of the Venetian physician Sanctorius Sanctorius (1561–1636) who, at the turn of the seventeenth century, developed instruments to measure and to quantify physiological change. As trivial as quantitative assessment with regard to health issues might seem to us today – in times of fitness trackers and smart watches – it was a highly innovative step at the time. With his instruments, Sanctorius introduced quantitative research into physiology. In her dissertation, Teresa examines Sanctorius and his work in the broader perspective of processes of knowledge transformation in early modern medicine. Adopting a material culture perspective, her research draws upon the contemporary reconstruction of Sanctorius’ most famous instrument: the Sanctorian weighing chair.

Currently Teresa focuses on the clarification of the role of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (MPIB) in the pedophile debate in West Germany of the 1960s and 1970s. In June 2020, the University of Hildesheim published a report on Helmut Kentler’s work in Berlin’s child and youth welfare service (in German) which refers to the MPIB in the 1960s and 1970s as part of a “network” in which “pedophile positions were accepted, supported, and defended.” This allegation prompted the MPIB to systematically investigate into the matter in cooperation with the MPIWG. The Hildesheim report does not provide any reliable information on this.

From 2016 to 2019 Teresa acted as PhD representative of the MPIWG and in 2017 she was the representative of the Human Science Section at Max Planck PhDnet – the doctoral network of the Max Planck Society.



The Emergence of Iatromechanical Medicine


The Reconstruction of the Sanctorian Chair


No projects were found for this scholar.

Selected Publications

Hollerbach, Teresa (2021). “Doctors Only Started Measuring Body Temperature 200 Years Ago — Here’s Why.” The Conversation: Academic Rigour, Journalistic Flair 25.03.2021.…

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Hollerbach, Teresa (2018). “The Weighing Chair of Sanctorius Sanctorius: A Replica.” NTM 26 (2): 121–149.

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Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

Hauptseminar (in cooperation with Matteo Valleriani): Nachbau der ersten Personenwaage - die Materialität der frühneuzeitlichen statischen Medizin

Technische Universität Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni 135, Berlin. 

Quantitative Physiological Reasoning at the Turn of the Seventeenth Century: The Work of Sanctorius Sanctorius

International Conference Humours, Mixtures, Corpuscles, Pisa (Italy)

Sanctorius Sanctorius: Der Beginn der Selbstquantifizierung

Research Colloquium on Early Modern History (organized by Prof. Daniela Hacke)

Freie Universität Berlin, Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut, Koserstr. 20, 14195 Berlin.



Self-Tracking in the Seventeenth Century


Science Goes Stage! Science Slam