Tag Archives: Summer 2016

The Holy Infirmary of the Knights of St. John in Malta

Sally Metzler Chicago, Illinois, United States    Left: Exterior of Sacra Infirmaries, Malta; R: Interior On a small island near Sicily, where today one hears the rich Maltese language—a mixed tongue of Italian, Arabic, English, and even French—a hospital was established in 1574 by the Knights of St. John.  These aristocratic, militaristic, and religious men […]

Fracastorius, the man who named syphilis

Titian (1528), National Gallery, London One of the great names in medical history, Girolamo Fracastoro appears in the National Gallery painting by Titian in full regalia. We owe him the name syphilis, derived from his poem (1530) Syphilis sive morbus gallicus (“Syphilis or The French Disease”) in which a shepherd boy named Syphilus was punished […]

Outwitting ‘Typhoid Mary’

Lisa Mullenneaux New York City, New York, USA   Illustration from The New York American, 1909 The Irish cook who infected at least forty-eight people with typhoid bacilli, three of whom died, had a surname and a history, but Americans remember her only for her germs. Mary Mallon’s physical stamina and quick wits had served […]

Ronald Ross: polymath and discoverer

Satish Saroshe Indore, India Sir Ronald Ross [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons Sir Ronald Ross received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1902 for discovering the malaria parasite in the stomach of a mosquito, thereby proving that malaria was transmitted by mosquitoes and laying the foundation for future methods of combating the disease. Born in Almora, India, in 1857 to a Scottish […]

Doctor Riker’s decision

Julie Gianakon Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA     The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776 John Trumbull, 1756-1843 Yale University Art Gallery On the frigid Christmas night of 1776, Dr. John Riker was alarmed by the baying of dogs outside his New Jersey home. He went out into the darkness and discovered that the […]

Horace Wells

Roshan Radhakrishnan Kerala, India   In 1845, a dentist stepped onto the spotlight at the revered Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He wanted to show his medical brethren something unique, something unheard of back then in the field of surgery. He wanted to show them how the world could finally be rid of pain. The […]

Doctorum Ecclesiae: the medical clerics of the Diocese of Bath and Wells, England

Adam S. Komorowski, Sang Ik Song Limerick, Ireland   It is difficult to remember that in medieval and early modern Europe the church was often the locus of medical practice and that medicine and religion had a symbiotic co-existence.1 Many of the early Christian Church Fathers, some given the title Doctors of the Church, saw their […]

Ex memoriam: a eulogy for a med school factoid

Samer Muallem Philadelphia, Pennsylvania   We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of yet another beloved colleague and friend, the Branches of the Internal Iliac Artery. Like those who have gone before him, he was taken from us far too soon, during yet another brutal morning rounds. This marks the fourth time this week […]

The language of medicine

Rebecca MacDonell-Yilmaz Providence, Rhode Island Language, both spoken and written, plays an enormous role in the education that we absorb from our predecessors and pass on to our successors. I realized this early on during my clinical rotations as a medical student, as I stared, lost, at the fishbone diagrams scratched out in residents’ notes […]

The Imposters

Michelle Ponder Philadelphia, PA, USA We sit behind our desks for ten-plus hours a day … learning … the building blocks of medicine Painting courtesy of Wikimedia Freshly-coated med students across the world both revel and rot in the newfound responsibilities bestowed upon them. Suddenly, they become “the smart one” (especially if they are the […]