Tag Archives: Soviet

Shostakovich, shrapnel, and chronic poliomyelitis

Michael Yafi Houston Texas, United States   Illustration by Elena Toponogova Pianist, London, U.K The life of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) has fascinated artists, musicologists, and physicians who have tried to make a connection between his medical history and musical repertoire. Having once said, “When I hear about someone else’s pain, I feel pain too,” Shostakovich […]

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 […]

Anne McLaren, transfusion, transplantation, and the nature of blood

Matthew Holmes Cambridge, UK   What happened during a transfusion or transplantation between different individuals, or even members of different species? For centuries some thought that hereditable characteristics might cross between individuals or species in this manner. This belief found fresh impetus in Marxist biology during the Cold War. Anne McLaren, Oxford-trained zoologist and first […]

Cultural warfare: investigating childbirth practices in “Doctor Zhivago”

Stephanie S. Colello New York, United States   Caption: “Stalin’s tenderness to our future children shines!” I was fortunate to spend a year studying the transformation of Russian childbirth practices through the lens of Russian literature—an endeavor that at first glance may seem farfetched. However, I quickly realized that no birth scene is written as […]