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New Professor of Medical Anthropology

Portrait photograph of Professor Erica Borgstrom. She is looking at the camera in a garden setting, and she is smiling,

Dr Erica Borgstrom has been promoted to Professor of Medical Anthropology, within the OU’s Faculty of WELS. Holding a PhD from Cambridge and a BA and MA from Durham University, Erica’s key area in research and teaching is death and dying. She is the lead for the interdisciplinary Open Thanatology research group, which educates on death, dying, loss and grief across the life course.

Erica specialises in researching palliative and end-of-life care from anthropological and sociological perspectives using a range of methods, including ethnography. As such, her work juxtaposes policy, practice, and people’s everyday experiences. She is an internationally recognised leader in this field and contributes to a range of research and teaching in this area.

On receiving her professorial promotion, Professor Borgstrom commented:
“This Professorship recognises the extensive contributions I have made in teaching, research, and knowledge exchange, especially in relation to work on palliative and end of life care. My professorship title honours my disciplinary perspective, which has been fundamental to how I approach my work.”

Professor Borgstrom is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). In addition to her research and teaching activity Erica is one of the OU’s Open Media Fellows, working closely with OpenLearn, the OU’s Broadcast and Partnerships team and the BBC. In 2022, she received the Early Career Researcher award at the OU’s Research Excellence Awards.

She has most recently worked with NHS England and Marie Curie, focusing on understanding how people interpret and use the Ambitions Framework for Palliative and End of Life Care. Erica has contributed heavily to the OU module Death Dying and Bereavement (K220) which looks at the social context of death and dying, using real life examples to enable students to think critically about the practice and impact of end-of-life care and support.

Professor Borgstrom uses her experience of conducting research on end-of-life care to build research capacity around death and dying more generally. She regularly mentors doctoral students and early-career researchers.

Reflecting on the future, Professor Borgstrom added:
“ I hope to use my professorship to further extend the work of Open Thanatology and its members at the OU, contribute to death studies more broadly, and support others in their work and career development.”


Watch Professor Borgstrom discuss her work


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