Monthly Archives: November 2017

Groote Schuur Hospital, location, lineage and legacy

Annabelle S. Slingerland Leiden, the Netherlands   Façade of Groote Schuur Hospital Beginnings The Groote Schuur Hospital in South Africa’s Cape Town sits on a site first discovered in 1488 by the Portuguese Bartolomeu Dias. He called the peninsula Cabo Tormentosa (Cape of Storms), a good description of a site where the notorious South-Easter wind […]

The Joslin Diabetes Center

Annabelle S. Slingerland Leiden, the Netherlands Matthew Brown Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Bay State Road- cca. 1920 Of the many hospitals that have risen to fame because of the accomplishments of their staff, the Joslin Diabetes Center is one of the most iconic. Founded at a time when diabetes was largely untreatable and often […]

Left-handedness: is it the winner’s curse?

Isuri Wimalasiri Kandawela Estate, Ratmalana, Sri Lanka   Writing left-handed Most human beings, some 85% to 95%, are right-handed, and the remainder consists mainly of left-handers and a negligibly small number of ambidextrous people. Hand orientation is decided during intrauterine life, but if a child shows hand preference before the age of eighteen months this it […]

Hieronymus Fabricius of Acquapendente (1537-1619)

The Bursa of Fabricius is a sac-like organ responsible for producing immunogenic B-lymphocytes and present only in the cloaca of birds. But the man who described it, far from being an obscure ornithologist, was a reputed professor of anatomy and surgery. Born in 1537 near Orvieto in central Italy, he had as a youngster a […]

Coronary moments: reflections on the impossible anastomosis

Jason J. Han Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA   Coronary artery bypass surgery The arteries of the heart are called coronary arteries, meaning “of a crown.” Like a crown, they course around and adorn the walls of the heart, keeping it alive with vital nutrients and oxygen.  When these arteries are blocked, the heart starves, causing crushing […]

“Sara, Bill, Kristine, … you’re pregnant!” Gestational surrogacy, biomedicalized bodies and reconceptualizations of motherhood

Eva-Sabine Zehelein Frankfurt, Germany   The day we left the hospital, a therapist from the perinatal loss department presented us with two death certificates and asked us if we wanted the bodies for a burial. . . . We were being taken out the back like the trash, sparing those families who came to the […]

Juan Valdeverde de Amusco (1525-1588)

In the days before intellectual property laws (and when plagiarism was sometimes viewed as a compliment to the author) Juan Valverde of Spain wrote a book on anatomy so successful that it went through sixteen editions in four languages and its illustrations remain popular to this day. It was composed in 1556 and titled Anatomia […]

The 1960s in North American Psychiatry

Mary Seeman Toronto, Ontario, Canada   Rhonda’s “Monks” 1963 Private collection of Mary V. Seeman When I graduated from medical school in 1960, an unprecedented wave of optimism was sweeping the field of psychiatry. Effective antipsychotic medication, the offspring of chlorpromazine,1  was clearing out mental asylums.  New antidepressants, such as imipramine and its many progeny, […]

Metaphor, memory, and my grandmother’s hands

Gregory O’Gara New Jersey, United States   Stir of Memories, 2017 Oil on canvas, private collection of Gregory O’Gara Sometimes when it rains, the droplets are barely perceptible. There is no fog or mist, no thunder, no presage. I sat outside looking upward. There was nothing discernable in the darkness of the sky except the […]

Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694)

Marcello Malpighi was fortunate to live at a time when microscopes of sufficient power became available for scientific studies, culminating centuries of attempts to use the optic properties of glass to magnify the image of objects. Such efforts go back at least to the Romans, who for this purpose ground glass into the shape of […]