Words matter. Etymology gives us insight not only into the origins of words, but why they remain so important today, especially in medicine. In this episode, we’re delving into four specific words -- doctor, cerebrovascular accident, rounds, and zebras. And along the way, we’re going to discuss pre-historical pastoralists on the Eurasian steppes, medieval universities, Octagonal air-ventilated chambers in 19th century Baltimore, and of course, early 21st century sitcoms.
For a special holiday treat, we’re going to explore two tales of salmonella disease detectives -- the first about Mary Mallon (“Typhoid Mary”) and the birth of the genre; and the second about a mysterious salmonella outbreak at Massachusetts General Hospital solved with the assistance of a very jolly patient. Along the way, we’ll talk about clinical epidemiology, the long-lasting influence of Berton Roueché, and the joys of being an internist! Conference: cmeregistration.hms.harvard.edu/digitale
Dec 23, 2020
Diagnosis is arguably the most important job of a physician. But what does it actually mean to make a diagnosis? In this episode, we’ll explore this question by tracking the development of the “classical” model of diagnosis and pathological anatomy and discussing three cases over three hundred years. Along the way, we’ll ponder the concept of the lesion, iatromechanistic theories of the human machine, the birth of the International Classification of Diseases, and the rise and decline of the autopsy.
Nov 29, 2020
The House of Pod: How medical podcasting made me a better doctor and educator … and how it might change the future of medical education for everyone
In this episode, I talk about my podcasting journey -- how I started Bedside Rounds for inspiration during a low period in residency, how it changed me as a physician, and how it has changed my views about digital education and the future of medical education in general. We are hosting the first annual iMED conference in January (virtual this year, of course) -- the link is cmeregistration.hms.harvard.edu/digitaleducation to sign up!
Nov 23, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the racial health disparities in the United States, with markedly increased mortality especially among Blacks and Native Americans. In this episode, Tony Breu and I discuss the conception of race, racism, and the social determinants of health through three historic plagues in the United States -- from yellow fever in New Orleans, to poliomyelitis, and finally the early days of HIV/AIDS -- and what lessons we can draw for COVID-19.
Oct 25, 2020
In August of 1918, a horrific second wave of the Spanish Flu crashed across the world. In this episode, the third of a four-part series exploring hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19, I’ll explore this single moment in time, through the mysterious origins of the Spanish Flu and historiographical controversies, scientific missions to mass burial sites in remote Alaskan villages, the ill-fated journey of the HMS Mantua, debates about how to count victims of a pandemic, and the mystery behind Pfeiffer’s bacillu
Aug 30, 2020
The 1889 Russian Flu was the first influenza pandemic in an increasingly globalized world. In this episode, the second of a two-parter on how hydroxychloroquine became a great hope in COVID-19, we’ll talk about how quinine became the standard of care for influenza. Along the way, we’ll discuss the astrological origins of the flu, conspiracy theories about previous global coronavirus outbreaks, the media panic over the Russian Flu, and first year law school cases about Carbolic Smoke Balls.
Jul 12, 2020
This bonus episode introduces episode four of the Curious Clinicians, about Vincent Van Gogh and digitalis. The Curious Clinicians is a new medical podcast produced by Hannah Abrams, Avi Cooper, and Tony Breu; you can download them all at curiousclinicians.com.
Jul 8, 2020
Where did cinchona, the first medication to cure malaria, come from? This episode explores the murky history of the bark of the fever tree and its derivative chloroquine with mysterious pre-Columbian Pacific crossings of the plasmodium parasite, Jesuit priests and Inca healers, a Chinese Emperor performing a clinical trial to treat his fever, chemistry leading to the first modern pharmaceuticals, and imperialism on a global scale.
Jun 7, 2020
The 1918 influenza pandemic, or the Spanish Flu, is the obvious parallel to the COVID-19 pandemic -- a worldwide plague attacking a scientific and global society much like our own. In this guest episode by Hannah Abrams and Gaby Mayer, we chase these parallels wherever they take us, talking etiology, presentation, treatments, masking, curve-flattening, and mortality measures.
May 17, 2020