Science - Hektoen International

Christopher Wren’s contributions to medicine

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. Left: Sir Christopher Wren. From James Bissett’s Magnificent Guide, 1808. Wellcome Collection via Wikimedia. Public domain. Right: Blue plaque at Hampton Court Green. Photo by Edwardx on Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. An extraordinary natural philosopher and Renaissance man, Christopher Wren (1632–1723) (Fig 1) was primarily an astronomer and […]

A note on circadian clocks

JMS Pearce Hull, England   I first started to enquire about circadian rhythms when wondering what it was that caused the periodicity of migraines in relationship to such diverse factors as emotions, tiredness, relaxation, hormonal changes, bright lights, and noise.1 The periodic threshold appeared susceptible to hypothalamic function, which in turn was modulated by seasonal […]

From silks to science: The history of hematoxylin and eosin staining

Vidhi Naik Aberdeen, Scotland   A slice of logwood, notably depicting its deeply colored heartwood, atop different fabrics stained by logwood dye. Image obtained and published with permission from Botanical Colors. Introduction Hematoxylin and eosin, dyes used to stain tissue samples, collectively known as H&E, form the benchmark for histological stains. These dyes possess a […]

Help from the horseshoe crab

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Horseshoe crab. Crop of photo by Didier Descouens, 2009, via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. The horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) has not changed in more than 450 million years. It has been called “a living fossil.”1 It is, in fact, not a crab at all, but an arthropod, more closely related […]

Douglas Argyll Robertson and his pupils

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Figure 1. Argyll Robertson pupil reactions. Diagram by Chainwit. on Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. In my student days, the Wasserman reaction (WR), though not specific, was performed almost routinely in patients on medical wards to detect syphilis. Several direct and serological tests of varying sensitivity and specificity have now replaced […]

Physicians and photosynthesis

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. Portrait of J.B. van Helmont, 1683. Wellcome Collection. Public domain. The importance of plants in nutrition and in the environment of human and animal species needs no emphasis. How plants obtain their food and how they grow were unsolved mysteries until photosynthesis was discovered. It was generally believed […]

The origins of NIH medical research grants

Edward Tabor Bethesda, MD, United States   The main administration building at the “National Institute of Health,” photographed sometime between 1940–1947, before the name was changed to “National Institutes of Health.” The original name can be seen under the cornice. From the “Images from the History of Medicine” collection at the National Library of Medicine, […]

Francis Bacon’s natural philosophy and medicine

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. Novum Organum Scientiarum, 2nd edition, 1645. EC.B1328.620ib, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Lord Bacon was the greatest genius that England, or perhaps any country, ever produced. – Alexander Pope, 1741   The early seventeenth century was a time when natural philosophy, the precursor of modern […]

Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield: Inventor of the CT scanner

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, England   Godfrey Hounsfield. US National Library of Medicine. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. The name Godfrey Hounsfield is not familiar to most healthcare professionals, yet his invention of the CT (Computerized Tomography) scanner is one of the greatest radiological advances since Röntgen discovered X-rays in 1895. Nearly all modern hospitals have […]

Mankind and the camel: An old romance

James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Figure 1 (left). Dromedary camels, Saudi Arabia. Figure 2 (right). Bactrian camel, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois.   “The camel is a horse designed by a committee.” This quotation is attributed to Sir Alec Issgonis (1906–1988), a British car designer who worked for the Morris Minor Company […]