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.”
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…
Health Oct 16How a serious illness gave Eugene O’Neill his dark literary power
Long before he sat down to compose the dramas that have long enlightened and haunted audiences, Eugene O’Neill contracted tuberculosis, and it forever changed him.
Health Sep 13How Walter Reed earned his status as a legend and hospital namesake
Born on this day in 1851, Walter Reed proved the theory that mosquitoes transmitted yellow fever to human beings.
Health Aug 18How Dr. Kellogg’s world-renowned health spa made him a wellness titan
Just as his Michigan peers Henry Ford and Thomas Edison ruled over their vast empires of automobiles and electricity, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was the industrial king of wellness, giving the nation a thorough cleansing from the grime and sickness…
Health Aug 08How the massive, pioneering and embattled VA health system was born
Over the past 96 years, the Veterans Administration -- now with over 1,700 care facilities serving more than 8.76 million veterans annually -- has experienced a roller-coaster ride of accomplishment, public opinion, resource allocation and criticism.
Health Jul 18Presidents get sick and die. What happens next hasn’t always been clear
The Constitution describes the legal transfer of presidential power to the vice president if the former resigns or dies while in office. But this guiding document does little to describe what happens if the president becomes seriously ill, or who…
Health Jun 15Dr. Alzheimer and the patient who helped reveal a devastating disease
This week marks the 153rd birthday of Alois Alzheimer, the German psychiatrist who is often credited for first describing the clinical and micro-anatomic features of a brain disease that steals the memories of millions of people each year.