Tag Archives: History Essays

Mithridates, “deadly poison” in history, and a classic misdiagnosis

Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe Dundee, Scotland     Mithridates VI of Pontus (136-63BC), the Poison King Mithridates VI of Pontus (136-63 BC), a formidable enemy of the Roman Empire, was vanquished after several wars. Intrigue and treachery in pursuit of power were then commonplace. Following the poisoning of his uncle, he usurped, imprisoned, or murdered his mother […]

The Monros: a medical dynasty

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Figure 1. John Monro In medieval times Celtic life was based on a clan system of lineage in certain territories. Each clan had a chief, kinsmen, and families who worked and lived on their lands. The treatment of illness within the entire clan was the responsibility of a […]

Part I: The impact of insulin on children with diabetes at Toronto Sick Kids in the 1920s

Sarah Riedlinger Dean Giustini Brenden Hursh Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada   Introduction The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, 1929. Photo credit: Toronto Public Library, Accession # tspa_0113248f Diabetes mellitus (DM) is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world.1 In 2009 Canada alone had 2.35 million people with diabetes.2 Some 10% of sufferers […]

Part II: The impact of insulin on children with diabetes at Toronto Sick Kids in the 1920s

Sarah Riedlinger Dean Giustini Brenden Hursh Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada   Progress in diabetes care between 1922 and 1929 Figure 2. Mortality of Diabetic Coma in the Hospital for Sick Children.7 In 1923 Banting joined the staff of the Hospital for Sick Children and was placed in charge of diabetes care. He and physician Gladys […]

The history of diabetes and insulin

Anabelle S. Slingerland Leiden, the Netherlands   Figure 1. The Toronto Daily, the Nobel Laureates on track of diabetes cure The discovery of insulin in 1921 by Banting, Best, Collip, and McLeod was heralded as the cure of diabetes (Figure 1). Press reports consigned earlier research to oblivion, suggesting that previous investigators had merely been […]

Finding a “New Orientation” in Mexican Public Health: the Servicio Médico-Social

Steve Server Chicago, Illinois, USA   The Palace of the Inquisition, the site of the old National Medical School, Plaza Santo Domingo, Mexico City In the 1935-1936 issue of the Mexican Public Health Department’s newsletter, Salubridad, the newly-minted Chief of the Department, Doctor and General José Siurob, offered a vision for the “new orientation for […]

Medical history on the silver screen: Hollywood’s ten-minute films about medical heroes

Bert Hansen New York, New York, USA   Figure 1.  Frame of Christiaan Eijkman in Java considering the dietary difference between polished and unpolished rice, from The Magic Alphabet © MGM 1942.  All rights reserved. Some of us are old enough to remember long Saturday afternoons in neighborhood movie theaters, where we were entertained not […]

The battle of the vivisected dog

Jack Effron Bagmara, Bangladesh    The original 1906 statue that caused all the trouble. Medical education has not always been left to the professionals. In the past, and especially in London in the first decade of the twentieth century, it has become a political issue and caused rioting in the streets. On February 2, 1903, […]

“Marvailous Cures”: sympathetic medicine connecting Europe and China

Richard de Grijs Sydney, Australia Daniel Vuillermin Beijing, China   Application of a powder of sympathy. Source: Tentzel A (ed) 1662 Theatrum Sympatheticum Auctum (Nuremberg: Johann Andreas Endter & the Heirs  of Wolfgang Endter Jr), p 125 (Reproduced with permission, Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, 30.4 Med.: VD17 23:290712A.) In Renaissance Europe the concept of curing illnesses […]

An emperor unclothed: the virtuous Osler

Patrick Fiddes and Paul A. Komesaroff Melbourne, Australia   William Osler at Oxford. Apart from Hippocrates himself, William Osler was among the most praised physicians of all time. Like his Greek forerunner, Osler amassed a huge following of loyal supporters, for whom he could evidently do no wrong. One went so far as to suggest […]