Tag Archives: England

Plain Words, or pandemic medical gobbledygook

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1: Comic featuring Plain Words The great essayist and philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626) once said: “Words, when written, crystallize history; their very structure gives permanence to the unchangeable past.” I suggest that the problems posed by writers who fail to convey meaning are not new.1,2 As long ago as […]

John Dalton

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. John Dalton. Line engraving by W. H. Worthington, 1823, after J. Allen, 1814. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) John Dalton (1766–1844) (Fig 1) is one of the most revered scientists of the last 250 years. His origins were humble. He was the son of Deborah and […]

Coleridge and the albatross syndrome

Nicolás Roberto Robles  Badajoz, Spain   Figure 1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Contemporary portrait. Public Domain. Via Wikimedia  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the tenth and last child of the vicar of Ottery Saint Mary near Devonshire, England, was born on October 21, 1772. In vivid letters recounting his early years he describes himself as “a genuine Sans […]

Salernitan women

Vicent Rodilla Alicia López-Castellano Valencia, Spain   Figure 1. A miniature from Avicenna’s Canon representing the Salernitan Medical School. Source The first medical school in the Western world is thought to be the Schola Medica Salernitana (Figure 1), which traces its origins to the dispensary of an early medieval monastery.1 The medical school at Salerno […]

The global journey of variolation

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   A human hand with smallpox pustules. Colored etching by W.T. Strutt. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Humanity has eliminated only one infectious disease—smallpox. Smallpox is a very old disease and efforts to prevent it are almost as old. They included a technique called variolation, also […]

Thriving in the face of uncertainty

Sally Mather Chris Millard Ian Sabroe Sheffield, England   The experience of uncertainty has appeared as a frequent narrative in articles, autobiographies, and memoirs written by doctors over the last century. A persistent belief that better training, tests, evidence, and pathways will reduce uncertainty has not been borne out in the experience of contemporary clinicians. […]

Plague epidemics and the evolution of language in England

Andrew P. K. Wodrich Washington, DC, United States   Pierart dou Tielt’s illustration depicts the mortal toll of the Black Death in a Belgian town circa 1353. Similarly, the plague decimated the population of England, spurring the change from French to English as the country’s dominant spoken language. Via Wikimedia Commons here.  Epidemics have had a profound impact […]

Ernest Henry Starling and the birth of English Physiology

JMS Pearce  Hull, England   Fig 1. Ernest Starling. Univ. College. Graduate Guy Hospital. 1890. London. (From Images from the History of Medicine (NLM) ). Accessed via Wikimedia Science has only one language, quantity, and only one argument, the experiment -EH Starling   Ernest Henry Starling (1866-1927) (Fig 1) was an outstanding figure in the […]

A Cold War Vaccine: Albert Sabin, Russia, and the oral polio vaccine

James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Albert Sabin (second from left) and Mikhail Chumakov (third from left). Credit: Courtesy Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives, Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions, University of Cincinnati Libraries. Fair Use. In the midst of the 2020 Covid–19 pandemic, when […]