When Leprosy is the Punch Line

In last week’s flurry of news articles about a study that linked leprosy in humans and armadillos, I was struck by how several stories substituted sensationalism for informed reporting. Particularly sophomoric was Chad Love of Field & Stream, who starts off by saying “Heartbreaking news for all the gustatory adventurers who love a good armadillo […]

Leprosy in Wild Armadillos is Old News (Yet Fascinating)

At least now we have DNA confirmation. There is a lot more to the story about people getting leprosy from armadillos than most news stories bothered to go into. As published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, genomic analysis shows that wild armadillos and many patients with leprosy in the southern United […]

Pack Up the Pickled Fetuses

How do you move a collection of preserved human fetuses, hairballs, and Lincoln skull fragments? With TLC and a wistful sigh as one of my favorite haunts, the quirky and informative National Museum of Health and Medicine, closes its location at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, on Sunday, April 3.

March 24 is World TB Day, Hail Robert Koch

Today is World TB Day and a good time to reflect on the many contributions of Nobel Prize winner Robert Koch (1843-1910), a poor country doctor in Germany who astounded the world on this day in 1882 by announcing he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis. At the time, TB was raging across Europe, killing one in […]

RIP Ernest McCulloch, Stem Cell Pioneer

Ernest McCulloch, who was part of the scientific duo that first identified a stem cell, died Jan. 20 at the age of 84. The New York Times‘s obit was full of amusing personal details (his nickname was Bun) while The Washington Post’s obit (whose link is m.i.a.) did a nice job conveying the eureka moment […]

Breaking Through is Hard To Do

I happened to be in Manhattan earlier this week and caught the last day of the New-York Historical Society exhibit “Breakthrough: The Dramatic Story of the Discovery of Insulin.” My favorite part was the black-and-white silent movie showing the early insulin-manufacturing process, in which refrigerator carloads of fetal calf pancreases are ground up, pressed, filtered, and […]