New Exhibit in the John Martin Rare Book Room

Syphilis and Paul Ehrlich:

an Historical Case Study

Treponema_pallidum

Sahachiro Hata, working in Paul Erlich’s laboratory in 1908, discovered the arsenic compound arsphenamine (later known as Salvarsan), which was the first effective treatment for syphilis. The disease, which is transmitted either sexually or congenitally, begins as a superficial affliction but can lead to serious complications including seizures, aneurysms, and deformation in its later stages.

Syphilis has haunted global history and culture for centuries. Scientists debate its arrival in the Americas, with the greatest evidence supporting the Colombian hypothesis arguing that Christopher Columbus’ crewmen brought syphilis back with them from the Americas. Several famous historical figures including Franz Schubert are thought to have contracted the disease. It has been treated in art by Albrecht Dürer and in the femme fatale (“poison woman”) literature of 19th century writers such as John Keats. It was the subject of questionable ethical practices in the Tuskegee syphilis study of 1932.

Treponema pallidum (pictured), the bacterium which causes syphilis, was not discovered until 1905. This discovery paved the way for Hata’s cure. The disease currently affects an estimated 12 million people with 90% of those cases being in the developing world. Since penicillin became widely available in the 1940s, syphilis can be treated effectively with antibiotics.

durer170px-Tertiary_syphilis_headhata

Images: treponema pallidum; Dürer’s “Syphilitic Man” (1496); bust of deformation in a patient with gummatous syphilis; Hata and Ehrlich.

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, July 2014: Nathaniel Highmore

Nathaniel Highmore (1613-1685)

Corporis Humani Disquisitio Anatomica

The Hague: Ex oficina Samuelis Brown, 1651.

[Image via Fisher Library Digital Collections, University of Toronto].

Nathaniel Highmore of Dorset, England was a British surgeon known for his 1651 treatise on anatomy, the first of its kind to give an accurate account of the circulatory system. Highmore studied at Oxford beginning in 1631, after which he practiced at Sherborne in Dorset. Corporis, the best-known of his several works, is divided into three sections corresponding to the abdomen, thorax, and head. Although the plates, drawn in the style of Vesalius, echo those of an earlier period, Highmore was responsible for a number of important advances. The most noteworthy of these are his descriptions of the sinus maxillaris (the largest nasal cavity, then known as the antrum of Highmore) and the mediastinum testes (the septum dividing the scrotum, or Highmore’s body).

To learn more about medical history, visit the John Martin Rare Book Room website.

Get to know Curator Donna Hirst at Iowa Now.

 

Elements of the Practice of Medicine

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room

June, 2014

RICHARD BRIGHT (1789-1858) and THOMAS ADDISON (1793-1860). Elements of the practice of medicine. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1839.

richardbright
This rare work represents a joint undertaking by two of the most famous physicians in nineteenth-century Europe. The preface describes it as “a work at once elementary and practical to which [teachers] might refer their pupils as a companion and assistant during the period of their studies.”

thomasaddison
Elements lists over sixty diseases and conditions and includes a lucid account of their histories, causes, prognoses, diagnoses, and treatments. Though the style is dated, the descriptions of the diseases excel in accuracy and conciseness. Originally issued in three parts from 1836 to 1839, the work is bound in  a single volume. The intended second volume was never published. Hardin has digitized 17 images from the book. See them here.

Text adapted from Donna Hirst, Curator, John Martin Rare Book Room.

Images: Respectively, Richard Bright, Thomas Addison. Credits: Wikimedia, prlog.org.

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, May 2014: Jean Étienne Dominique Esquirol

Jean Étienne Dominique Esquirol (1772-1840)

Des maladies mentales considérées sous les rapports médical, hygiénique et médicolégal. 2 vols. Brussels : J.B. Tircher, 1838.

An inmate of Bethlem Hospital in 1814, who has been identified as William Norris, from Jean-Étienne Dominique Esquirol's Des maladies mentales. Brussels: Libraire médicale et scientifique de JB Tircher, 1838 [Institute of Psychiatry Historical Collection h/Esq]

Esquirol’s drawing of an inmate of Bethlem Hospital.

As Pinel’s most outstanding pupil, Esquirol so closely followed his teacher’s works that the contributions of the two men are sometimes confused. Like Pinel, Esquirol did not attempt to analyze mental illness from a philosophical standpoint, but sought to classify and describe the various kinds of insanity he encountered in his practice.

Esquirol coined the term monomania, a concept which anticipated the modern view of schizophrenia, and he was the first to distinguish hallucination from illusion.

While at Sâlpetrière, where he succeeded Pinel as chief physician, Esquirol introduced formal instruction in psychiatry and gained support for Pinel’s humanitarian reform movements by lecturing throughout Europe. Des maladies mentales, the work for which he is best known, served as a basic text in psychiatry for over fifty years.

To learn more, visit http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/rbr/

Text via Donna Hirst, Curator of Rare Books for the John Martin Rare Book Room at Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.

Image via kingscollections.org

R. Palmer Howard Dinner April 25: W. Bruce Fye on the Mayo Clinic

The University of Iowa History of Medicine Society announces the R. Palmer Howard Dinner

6 pm on Friday, April 25, 2014

W. Bruce Fye, Professor of Medicine & Medical History, Mayo Clinic, will speak on:

The Origins and Evolution of the Mayo Clinic from 1864 to 1939: A Minnesota Family Practice Becomes an International Medical Mecca

Fye. [Image via mayoclinic.org]

     “This presentation describes the origins and international impact of the Mayo clinic through 1939. Multi-specialty group practice was invented at the clinic a century ago. A visiting Canadian physician wrote in 1906, ‘Specialization and cooperation, with the best that can be had in each department, is here the motto. Cannot these principles be tried elsewhere?’ Mayo Clinic’s major (and under-appreciated) role in the development of rigorous postgraduate (specialty) training will be addressed. Unlike traditional academic medical centers that emphasize research, Mayo’s main mission has always been patient care. This activity has been undertaken in an environment enriched by extensive programs, devoted specialty training, and clinical research. The talk is complemented by more than 200 images.”

Registration and event details here.

Dr. William Mayo. [Image via mayoclinic.org]

The Father of Biomechanics: Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, 1680-1681

File:Giovanni Alfonso Borelli.jpg

Borelli. [Image via wikipedia.org]

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (1608-1679) was an Italian Renaissance physicist who sought to make mechanical laws applicable to all physiological phenomena. Borelli, who studied at Padua under Galileo, regarded the human body essentially as a machine whose functions could be explained by the laws of physics. He mentored Marcello Malpighi– who went on to become the father of microscopical anatomy– and was instrumental in the foundation of the Iatrophysical school of thought, which used mathematical and physical principles to understand the material world. At his laboratory in Pisa, Borelli made a number of important discoveries about respiration, circulation, and the muscular system. De Motu Animalium is an illustrated study of human and animal muscular exertion.

File:Giovanni Alfonso Borelli De Motu Animalium 1680.jpg

Model for an early submarine. [wikimedia.com]

http://www.anthrobot.com/press_images/figure10.jpg

 Hinged elbow joint. [anthrobot.com]       

Bearing weight. [archivioflaviobeninati.com]

John Martin Rare Book Room Open House March 27

The University of Library History of Medicine Society invites you to

Incunabula in a Medical Context

Open House

Thursday, March 27, 4:30-7 pm

  Incunabula are early printed books dating from 1450 to 1500, immediately after the introduction of the printing press.

The John Martin Rare Book Room at the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences will be opening its doors on the evening of Thursday, March 27 to let guests take a stroll through the 15th century.  Attendees will be allowed to page through and photograph our 32 incunabula along with select medieval manuscripts and facsimiles (copies), from 1500-1520.

To learn more, visit the Rare Book Room site. Contact Rare Book Room Curator Donna Hirst at (319) 335-9154 or by email at donna-hirst@uiowa.edu.

Don’t miss this chance for a unique glimpse into centuries-old medical scholarship!

Image via lib.cam.ac.uk

Incunabula page from the editio princeps of Lactantius (Italy, 1465).

Manuscript belongs to Cambridge University Library’s Incunabula Project.