Dr. Howard Markel writes a monthly column for the PBS NewsHour, highlighting the anniversary of a momentous event that continues to shape modern medicine. He is the director of the Center for the History of Medicine and the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.
He is the author or editor of 10 books, including “Quarantine! East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892,” “When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed” and “An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine.”
Health Aug 16Elvis’ addiction was the perfect prescription for an early death
Like so many rock stars, Elvis employed an all-too-willing physician to feed his addiction and hasten his death.
Health Jul 23How a hotel convention became ground zero for this deadly bacteria
From July 21 to July 24, 1976, more than 2,000 members of the Pennsylvania chapters of the American Legion attended their annual state convention at a Philadelphia hotel. By Aug. 15, 182 Legionnaires who attended the convention were ill with…
Health Jun 29The brilliant brothers behind the Mayo Clinic
Although Will Mayo rose to become an assistant in surgery and a demonstrator in anatomy at Michigan, one of his professors told him he would never succeed in medicine.
Nation May 05How Nellie Bly went undercover to expose abuse of the mentally ill
Nellie Bly's investigative work became a classic in the annals of psychiatry and a cogent warning against inhumane treatment of the mentally ill.
Health Apr 12Franklin D. Roosevelt’s painfully eloquent final words
FDR’s health finally gave out after years of carrying the weight of the United States, and ultimately the free world, on his muscular shoulders.
Health Mar 21Your trip to the dentist wouldn’t include anesthesia without this doctor
Our collectively aching teeth thank you, Dr. Carl Koller.
Nation Feb 16Column: The false, racist theory of eugenics once ruled science. Let’s never let that happen again
Sir Francis Galton, who first coined the idea of eugenics, was born on this day in 1822. We come today not to praise Galton but to bury him along with his faulty and dangerous pseudoscience.
Health Jan 11This surgeon general’s famous report alerted Americans to the deadly dangers of cigarettes
On this day in 1964, Dr. Luther Terry released an earth-shaking, 150,000-word report entitled, "Smoking and Health."…
Health Dec 15Doctors still argue about this prince’s early death
For more than a century, Albert’s demise was attributed to typhoid fever. More recently, however, a parade of doctors and armchair pathologists have argued that it was something more than an infection that carted the prince away.
Health Nov 10For Dostoevsky, epilepsy was a matter of both life and literature
There were points in his life when Dostoevsky wrote he was grateful for his seizure disorder because of the “abnormal tension” the episodes created in his brain, which allowed him to experience “unbounded joy and rapture, ecstatic devotion and completest…