Tag Archives: Fall 2013

Penicillin’s unique discovery

Emmanuel Ugokwe Nigeria Southeast & South South   Sir Alexander Fleming, (1881–1955) Scottish-born Alexander Fleming spent almost his entire life as a doctor in London, studying the problems of infection and the use of antiseptics. In 1922 he made a remarkable observation. He took a test tube containing water mixed with inoffensive bacteria that turned […]

A changing paradigm for medical research: the evolution of the clinical trial

Kayvon Modjarrad Bethesda, Maryland, United States   This history of science follows a convoluted path of imperceptible intellectual drifts and sudden philosophical shifts. Scientific milestones are, therefore, the result of gradually building thought processes. This is as true for advances in the methods of scientific inquiry as it is for the content of scientific discovery. […]

A disease of society: cholera through the ages

Khameer Kishore Kidia United Kingdom Cholera is something else, it is the invisible, it is the curse of the olden days, of times passed, a sort of evil spirit that comes back and that surprises us so much that it haunts us, because it belongs to what appears to be a forgotten age. Doctors make […]

Passionate medicine: the emotional fight against epidemic disease

Tom Koch  Toronto, Canada   The Plague at Ashdod, 1630 Nicolas Poussin Musée du Louvre, Paris Great medicine is driven by great passion, by a sense of outrage at the indignity that a disease visits on its victims. Across history the search for a solution to epidemic diseases has been rooted not in a desire […]

“Uncertain disease”: the science of nostalgia

Kevis Goodman Berkeley, California, USA   Nosology, 1800 William Cullen William Cullen, the well-esteemed Edinburgh physician and professor of medicine at Glasgow and later Edinburgh, shared the “love of system” praised by no less than Adam Smith, who—not coincidentally—happened to be Cullen’s patient and friend.1 Cullen set out to gather all existing medical nosologies (the […]

Polymathy in decline?

J.M.S. Pearce United Kingdom Try to know something about everything and everything about something. —attributed to T H Huxley (1825-95) Nicolaus Copernicus, 1872 Jan Matejko Jagiellonian University, Krakow Polymaths are rare and interesting people. Their fund of learning enlightens conversation, provokes new ideas, and excites our imagination and understanding. The ancient Greeks concentrated on natural […]


Gaetan Sgro Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States   Photography by Andrew R. Whalley It is a mild Saturday morning in the fall. A breeze is blowing leaves and garbage past the entrance to My Brother’s House, a shelter on South 15th Street, and the sun is shining brightly off the inside of the open door. The […]


Susan Beck Fort Collins, Colorado, United States   Photography by reb Smell is the sense below the surface; tangled like seaweed, moving in currents, unfurling in the depth of the open ocean. “Why does poverty smell like laundry detergent?” I never expected an answer. The long and tangled history of the question began in Baskerville, […]


Bryan Sisk St. Louis, Missouri, United States   Never underestimate a medical student’s capacity for worry. Whether anxious about an upcoming exam or beginning a new rotation with a curmudgeonly attending, no one makes it through medical school without having to battle these existential butterflies. I found this to be especially true while I was […]

Doctors as angels and devils

Sally Metzler Chicago, Illinois, United States The Physician as god, angel, man, and devil Four colored engravings, 1609 Johann Galle after Egbert van Panderen Collection of the Wellcome Institute, London   These four colored engravings from 1609 by Johann Gelle after the design of Egbert van Panderen tell the waxing and waning reputation of the […]