Volume 2, Issue 2

Feature Articles

Bosch’s Stone Operation

"The Stone Operation" by Hieronymus BoschLaurinda Dixon, PhD

Syracuse University, New York

The painting depicts a surgeon, dressed in the characteristic reddish robe that marked his profession, removing with a scalpel something from the head of a portly seated man. More…

The castrati: a physician’s perspective

Stefano Pionisi as Farinelli in the film Farinelli (1994)

James L. Franklin, MD

Hektoen Institute of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois

The phenomenon of the castrati enters the history of Western music in the latter half of the 16th century, becoming a dominant factor in Italian music. More…

The pastor’s son

"Agony" from Shutterstock.comDanielle Ofri, MD, Bellevue Hospital, NYU School of Medicine – From Medicine in Translation, reprinted by permission of Beacon Press, Boston

When Samuel Chuks Nwanko opened the door, he saw a young man wearing a stained denim jacket… More…

When the doctor is the patient

"The doctor and his patient" by Jan Steen (1626-1679)Saleh Aldasouqi, MD

Michigan State University,

East Lansing

I looked at my fingers, tender after a few glucose finger sticks, wondering which fingers to use the next day. More…


History of Medicine

Lithotripsy: a historical review

Andreas a Cruce's modification of Al-Zahrawi's lithrociteRabieh Abdel-Halim, MD

Al-Faisal University,

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Although lithotripsy is often looked on as a modern discovery, its roots may be traced back to antiquity. More…

Doctor Moore on 18th century medicine

Doctor MooreEinar Perman, MD, PhD

Stockholm, Sweden

John Moore (1729-1802), a Scottish physician, was an astute observer of people, customs and places, and his opinions were often ahead of his time. More…


Reflections on Death

Dia De Los Muertos

Example of a Dia de los Muertos ofrenda

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) ofrenda, Mexico City,

UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Caley McIntyre, Northwestern University,

Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois

An ancient and cherished tradition throughout Mexico, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrates the return of the spirits of the deceased to the world of the living.Ofrendas—altars decorated with the pictures of the departed, golden marigolds and skullsare built and gifts to the spirits are left for their enjoyment. It is a colorful, celebratory affair, far from the funerary atmosphere one might expect. Rather than mourn the passing of loved ones, it celebrates their lives. More…

A death in the operating room

Larry Zaroff, MD, PhD

Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

Every death is replayed. As if the film were reversed, death would give back a pulse. But the clock is stubborn, unwilling to turn. More…

How do you say goodbye?

Phillipa Malpas, PhD

University of Auckland, New Zealand

It was dark and drizzling when I picked up my best friend Maddie. She had the last appointment of the day for an MRI scan at the city hospital. More…

An Eliotian journey through suffering

Dr. Francesco Enia

Ospedali Riuniti Villa Sofia-Cervello, Palermo, Italy

A child with no hope of a cure, affected by dilated cardiomyopathy, looks at the doctors in the hospital and plays at taking an electrocardiogram of her doll. More…

Death, a part of life

Carole A. Travis-Henikoff

Chicago, Illinois

The subject of death is by its very nature a personal thing. Woody Allen said he didn’t mind dying; he just didn’t want to be there when it happened. More…


The Brain

Acting on your mind

Tragedy/comedy masks from Shutterstock.comHelga Noice, PhD & Tony Noice, PhD

Elmhurst College, Illinois

Anyone walking by would have been startled by the laughter emanating from this serious academic meeting. But the laughter resulted from a new intervention to enhance cognition through acting exercises. More…

Reading in the brain

Labyrinth inside head graphic from Shutterstock.comFrederic Gilbert, PhD, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

Alexandre Wenger, PhD

University of Geneva, Switzerland

With the development of neuroimaging technologies, metaphors associated with the readability of the brain have evolved in scientific literature. More…

Evolution from recapitulation theory to Neural Darwinism

Hardwired neurons graphic from Shutterstock.comJMS Pearce, MD
Hull Royal Infirmary, London, England

While Aristotle had earlier noted the anatomical variability marked in humans “to whose share had fallen not mere life, but life of high degree,” understanding of the brain’s evolving morphology was first advanced by Ramon y Cajal. Darwin, in turn, was occupied by the enormous diversity of form within species. Work by these theorists and others have made way for Neural Darwinism as the means by which the human nervous system has evolved to its present form. More…


Personal narratives

One for science: nothing more, nothing less

Erin Duralde

Stanford University,

Palo Alto, California

On an ordinary day, just a routine checkup, Ruth’s left breast spoke up for the first time. More…

You say you want a revolution?

Y Pritham Raj, MD

Oregon Health & Science University

Portland, Oregon

“It must be a virus,” I whispered to myself noticing that Miss C, my medical assistant, was not her usual, efficient self today. More…

God’s menu

Rev. Florence Gelo, DMin, NCPsyA

Drexel University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“You act like you are waiting to die!” Sophie explains that this accusation comes in many forms from friends and members of her church.More…


Art and Medicine

Kindred paradigms: community arts and health advocacy in HIV/AIDS activism

Community arts inspired AIDS awareness messages: Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there.Niyi Awofeso, PhD & Anu Rammohan, PhD, University of Western Australia, Perth

HIV-related community arts have made important contributions to fundraising for research and care, redressing negative stereotypes… More…

Campaigning for Craig: the healing power of a legacy T-shirt


Craig's dreamscape T-shirts.

Nancy Gershman

Chicago, Illinois

A dad yearns to grieve out loud for his son but the family resists –until a prescriptive artist starts the conversation with a legacy T-shirt. More…



Joannie K. Stangeland

Then they wanted more

of her, their hands of knives—

more of her body, more

of her time.


Mark King

Thin, thin, thin

My life is thin

No substance

No interest


But not ascetic


Johanna Shapiro

Death is not my lover

– that would be morbid –

nor even my best friend

– though some say he can be that –

He is merely become

my near neighbor




Confidentiality and privacy in public hospitals

David O. Irabor, MD

College of Medicine, University of

Ibadan, Nigeria

Healthcare professionals in Nigeria are bound by ethical codes not to disclose patient information. Yet, neither confidentiality nor privacy can always be easily guaranteed. More…

Informed choice versus informed consent

George L. Spaeth, MD

Wills Eye Hospital

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Informed consent can help patients to make decisions to improve their health. Yet discussions regarding “informed consent” often miss the point. More…

Rethinking public health law and ethics

Nadav Davidovich, MD, MPH, PhD

Ben Gurion University,

Beer Sheva, Israel

While bioethics and health law help healthcare professionals respond to legal and moral dilemmas, interest in separating public health law from ethics is growing. More…


Letters from our readers

Reader’s response: Is it ethical to bring religion into medicine?

Letters from our readers

JMS Pearce, MD, from the Hull Royal Infirmary in London, England responds to Dr. Patrick Guinan’s article on religion and medicine. More…