Lola Wilhelm

Postdoctoral Researcher FNS


Lola Wilhelm is a historian and a member of the Swiss National Science Foundation project Neverending infectious diseases. The case of syphilis, from 1859 to the present. Her research explores the interlaced histories of penicillin, international sexual health programmes, and the pharmaceutical industry.

She has previously held the positions of Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, of Doc.Mobility Fellow at the University of Oxford, and of teaching assistant at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. She has a PhD in International History from the Graduate Institute.

She has taught on a broad range of subjects in the global history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from the history of colonial health and humanitarianism to the economic history of the Global South and of multinational enterprises.

Aside from her academic career she has worked in humanitarian organisations and as an expert adviser for development agencies, including during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014-2015.



  • History of Switzerland, of the European colonial empires, of international development
  • History of colonial medicine and global public health
  • Business history
  • History of food and nutrition


  • Nestlé and the Business of Development (forthcoming)
  • “‘Sometimes Penicillin Doesn’t Work’ : The Wonder Drug and Post-War Global Health” (forthcoming)
  • “Sabine Pitteloud, Les multinationales dans l’arène politique”, Business History Review, 2023.
  • “Business et santé infantile mondiale. La stratégie médicale de Nestlé au sein des réseaux pédiatriques et humanitaires transnationaux”, Monde(s), vol. 20, no. 2, 2021, pp. 49-66.
  • “‘One of the Most Urgent Problems to Solve’: Malnutrition, Trans-Imperial Nutrition Science, and Nestlé's Medical Pursuits in Late Colonial Africa”, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 48:5, pp. 914-933, 2020.