Tag Archives: Africa

The wonderful world of vaccines

Jayant Radhakrishnan Chicago, Illinois, United States   A patient with his whole body covered with smallpox lesions. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, photo by Barbara Rice. Epidemics and pandemics became an issue about 10,000 years ago when hunters and gatherers became farmers and began to live in communities. Smallpox was one of the first […]

Mitochondrial DNA: a maternal gift

Marshall Lichtman Rochester, New York, United States   Human haplogroup tree rooted at Mitochondrial Eve. By Wapondaponda. 2009. Via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 3.0 DNA is arrayed on twenty-three pairs of chromosomes in human cell nuclei. It is coiled tightly around proteins called histones that together with DNA form a chromosome. The largest chromosome carries several […]

Mary Josephine Hannan: portrait of a pioneer

Katie King Atlanta, Georgia, United States   Mary Hannan. Photograph by Cowell, Simla. Via the Wellcome Collection. Public Domain. Mary Josephine Hannan was an Irish medical pioneer, an outspoken woman with a strong sense of morality, a fervid supporter of women’s rights, and a champion of children and public health. She spent her life fighting […]

The deer trail

Henri Colt Laguna Beach, California, United States   Photo by Kevin Mueller on Unsplash “Ezra, get up! It’s a beautiful morning, and you’re sixteen today!” I playfully shook my son’s shoulder. “It’s six o’clock, Dad, what are you doing?” He buried his head under his pillow and slid under the covers. “We’re going hiking, remember?” […]

COVID time

Norelle Lickiss  Hobart, Tasmania, Australia   View of Earth, showing Africa, Europe, and Asia–taken by Apollo 11 crewmember. 17 July 1969. Image by NASA, Johnson Space Center.        Who will be the chronicler of this?  of how the tower fell,  of how the tolling bell  sounded the world’s crying.    And how the darkness fell,   […]

Science versus religion: the medieval disenchantment

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. An engraving showing a monopod or sclapod, a female Cyclops, conjoined twins, a blemmye, and a cynocephali. By Sebastian Münster 1544. Source History is a novel whose author is the people. -Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863)   In medieval times, knowledge, beliefs, and faith were largely centered upon a […]

The African Savannah

Steve Ablon Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts   Photo by Steve Ablon Forty years ago, my father wore his safari hat, squinted through binoculars, told us those giraffes, the dark ones, are older,   and soon will not be able to outrun lions or will break a leg, be eaten. That is the cycle of life he […]

Heterozygous Advantage: how one deadly disease prevents another

Neal Krishna Boston, Massachusetts, United States   An allegory of malaria. Process print after M. Sand. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Of all the genetic disorders to which man is known to be a victim, there is no other that presents an assemblage of problems and challenges quite comparable to sickle […]

Traditional circumcision in South Africa

Ntombi Kgosana Phenyo Montsho Pretoria, South Africa   A parked ambulance at Steve Biko Hospital, Pretoria. Image taken by Ntombi Kgosana, January 2019 Traditional circumcision is an ancient and highly secretive practice that serves as a rite of passage and a gateway to manhood in South Africa. It draws hundreds of young men annually, with […]

Ebola on this side

Elisabeth Preston-Hsu Atlanta, Georgia, United States   “Ebola in the Dark.” Drawing by Elisabeth Preston-Hsu, 2019, private collection In September 2014, my husband Chris boarded a plane from Atlanta, Georgia for the Democratic Republic of Congo, his first trip to Africa for work. We had just moved back to Atlanta two months before when he […]