Tag Archives: Medicine

Literatim: essays at the intersections of medicine and culture

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, UK   Cover of Literatim: Essays at the Intersections of Medicine and Culture In this interesting collection, medical historian Howard Markel has brought together his previously published essays from the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, and the PBS Newsletter into one volume. The collection of […]

The Schoolhouse Lab

Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   Howard T. Ricketts in Mexico City laboratory. National Library of Medicine “Black measles” was a common name for spotted fever, which regularly killed people in the western United States. Symptoms included a spotty rash on the extremities, fever, chills, headache, and photophobia. No one knew what caused […]

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 […]

Animality revisited in times of the coronavirus: A fable

Frank Gonzalez-Crussi Chicago, Illinois, United States   Figure 1. Jacob Savery (1566-1603). Orpheus among the animals. From Wikimedia. Imagine, as painters have done, representatives of animal species congregated in an assembly (Fig. 1). A man comes to address this motley crowd in this way: “You guys [he purposefully adopts this condescending language] have recently wronged […]

Food as medicine

Keerthi Gondy Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States   Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels In my family, food is the language of love. A warm meal is the way we say “I love you.” Whenever I get sick, my mother prepares a pot of spicy turmeric soup and honey lemon tea. When my brother threw a game-winning strike […]

Are we culturally tone-deaf?

Clara Koo New York, United States   Hahoe Folk Village Mask Dance. Ian Sewell. July 2008. Accessed via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 2.5 The cultural norms of American medicine are speciously like those of traditional Korean culture, but the differences place Korean-American students at a disadvantage. When I began my third year of medical school, a […]

Experimental evidence for the humoral circulatory system

Mark A. Gray  Kansas City, Kansas   Four Humors from the Book of Alchemy by Thurn-Heisser, Leipzig, Germany (1574). Source Humoralism, otherwise known as Hellenistic or Galenic medicine, posited the existence of four humors that were required to be kept in balance to maintain health. Blood was special among these humors, believed to deliver both […]

Control of blood

E. C. Spary United Kingdom Figure 1. Blood spurting from the neck of a decapitated human sacrifice in this bas-relief on the wall of this Mayan temple at Chichen Itza (Yucatan, Mexico) transforms into snakes, indicating its connection to power, life and death. Blood, that vivid liquid within our bodies, has an attraction for human […]

Ludwik Hirszfeld: the story of one life that changed thousands of others

Paulina Kowalińska Wrocław, Poland   Ludwik Hirszfeld in 1916, during the Serbian war. Source: Wikimedia Commons. “To a far greater extent the group reactions have been used in forensic medicine for the purpose of establishing paternity. The possibility of arriving at decisions in such cases rests on the studies of the hereditary transmission of the […]

The Rh factor: An intertwined history

Paula Carter Chicago, Illinois   Lucy Reyburn Rittgers and two of her daughters, circa 1948. Source: Family photo In 1924, Lucy Reyburn gave birth to her first child, a daughter she named Darlene. Lucy lived in Iowa and the birth was an embarrassment. She had become pregnant and hurriedly married a man who left before […]