When Chocolate was Medicine: Colmenero, Wadsworth, and Dufour

Poseidon taking chocolate from Mexico to Europe, a detail from the frontispiece to Chocolata Inda by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, 1644 — National Institute of Health Chocolate has not always been the common confectionary we experience today. When it first arrived from the Americas into Europe in the 17th century it was a rare and mysterious substance, thought[…]

How Rejuvenation of Stem Cells Could Lead to Healthier Aging

Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com By Dr. Elisa Lazarri / 01.16.2018 Postdoctoral Associate in Biomedical Sciences Cornell University “Rampant” and “elderly” are words rarely used in the same sentence, unless we are talking of the percentage of people over 65 years old worldwide. Life expectancy has considerably increased, but it is still unknown how many of those years are going to[…]

Influenza Pandemics Now, Then, and Again

In 2005, Dr. Terrence Tumpey, a Center for Disease Control Microbiologist, examines recreated 1918 Pandemic Influenza Virus to help understand its particularly deadly effects. By studying past pandemics, and the successes and failures of social and medical responses to end them, policy-makers and scientists hope to ameliorate the ill effects of the next flu pandemic[…]

Schizophrenia’s Tangled Roots

Symptoms of schizophrenia and related disorders likely arise from a perplexing interplay of social, environmental, psychological, and biological factors. / Apfelshaft123, Flickr, Creative Commons As an increasingly complex picture of schizophrenia emerges, researchers are recognizing that a more individualized and humane approach is needed to better understand and treat the condition. By Michael Balter /[…]

Going Viral: How Social Media Can Create Worse Epidemics

In the age of social media, fears and rumors about outbreaks and epidemics can quickly spread out of control. How can health officials help contain the panic? By Mike Ives / 10.28.2016 In the spring of 2014, Vietnam’s state-controlled news media reported that dozens of children had died after turning up at hospitals in the[…]

As Emerging Diseases Spread from Wildlife to Humans, Can We Predict the Next Big Pandemic?

Photo courtesy of PREDICT/Mike Cranfield Two ambitious projects aim to understand when and how the next human disease will emerge from wildlife, and what we can do to minimize harm when it does. By Karl Gruber / 12.07.2017 PhD Candidate in Biological Sciences University of Western Australia Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO)[…]

The Curious Relationship between Altitude and Suicide

Does living at a higher altitude affect your mental health? VAndreas/shutterstock.com By Dr. Hoehun Ha / 11.05.2017 Assistant Professor of Geography Auburn University at Montgomery Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. In the next 20 years, it’s expected to cause more than 2 million deaths per year worldwide, ranking 14th in the world[…]

The Mystery of a 1918 Veteran and the Flu Pandemic

Beds with patients in an emergency hospital in Camp Funston, Kansas, during the influenza epidemic around 1918. National Museum of Health and Medicine., CC BY By Dr. Ruth W. Craig / 11.09.2017 Emerita Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology Dartmouth College Vaccination is underway for the 2017-2018 seasonal flu, and next year will mark the 100-year anniversary of[…]

Believing in the Kindness of Strangers

When rain from Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston and surrounding areas, some people were more eager to volunteer than others. michelmond/Shutterstock.com By Dr. Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz / 11.12.2017 Postdoctoral Researcher in Cognitive Neuroscience University of Pennsylvania Would you risk your life for a total stranger? While you might consider yourself incapable of acts of altruism on that scale,[…]

The Bizarre Reality of Cotard’s ‘Walking Corpse’ Syndrome

Photo from Max Pixel By Dolly Stolze / 10.31.2017 For me, zombies are probably the scariest of the iconic horror monsters because humans are either zombie food fighting for survival in a post-apolocalypic landscape or they are transformed into mindless walking corpses that are doomed to feed on the bodies of other people.  While these stumbling,[…]

One Step at a Time: Simple Nudges Can Increase Lifestyle Physical Activity

A man taking stairs at Washington-Dulles International Airport in 2013. Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-NC-SA      By Natasha Bliss (left), Dr. John Bellettiere (center), and Matthew Mclaughlin (right) / 10.17.2017 Bliss: Researcher in Public Health, San Diego State University Bellettiere: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of California, San Diego Mclaughlin: PhD Student, University of Newcastle You’ve heard this before,[…]

The Long, Strange History of Dieting Fads

Another day, another diet. Yuriy Maksymiv/Shutterstock By Dr. Melissa Wdowik / 11.06.2017 Assistant Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition Colorado State University “Of all the parasites that affect humanity I do not know of, nor can I imagine, any more distressing than that of Obesity.” So started William Banting‘s “Letter on Corpulence,” likely the first diet[…]

What Plagues Us?

At Radcliffe’s Science Symposium, “Contagion: Exploring Modern Epidemics,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Laurie Garrett said there is need for improved local and national disease-management entities. / Kevin Grady, Radcliffe Institute Radcliffe hosts symposium about epidemics from Ebola to the opioid crisis. By Greta Friar / 10.31.2017 The topics waiting to be discussed read like the writing prompts[…]

Why Your Brain Needs to Dream

Research shows that dreaming is not just a byproduct of sleep, but serves its own important functions in our well-being. By Dr. Matthew P. Walker / 10.24.2017 Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience University of California, Berkeley We often hear stories of people who’ve learned from their dreams or been inspired by them. Think of Paul[…]

Mental Illness is Readily Visible in Brain Imaging

A pair of identical twins. The one on the right has OCD, while the one on the left does not. Brain Imaging Research Division, Wayne State University School of Medicine, CC BY-SA By Dr. David Rosenberg, M.D. / 10.19.2017 Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience Wayne State University As a psychiatrist, I find that one of the hardest[…]

Marie Curie and Her X-Ray Vehicles’ Contribution to World War I Battlefield Medicine

Marie Curie in one of her mobile X-ray units in October 1917. Eve Curie By Dr. Timothy J. Jorgensen / 10.10.2017 Associate Professor of Radiation Medicine Georgetown University Ask people to name the most famous historical woman of science and their answer will likely be: Madame Marie Curie. Push further and ask what she did, and[…]

How the Stoicism of Roman Philosophers Can Help Us Deal with Depression

Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. Detail. Bronze. 160-170s. Rome, Capitoline Museums, Palazzo dei Conservatori. By Dr. Robert S. Colter / 10.09.2017 Associate Lecturer of Philosophy University of Wyoming Depression is on the rise. A study conducted by the World Health Organization found an increase of 20 percent in depression cases within just a decade. I work on[…]

They Rode Horseback to Deliver Babies. A Century Later, Midwives Are Still Crucial.

Jean Fee shows photos from her time as a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service. / Photo by Melissa Hellmann In Kentucky, these health care professionals still struggle for acceptance—even in areas that need them most. By Melissa Hellmann / 09.07.2017 Carrie Hall was in the middle of a hair-coloring appointment when she received[…]

How Can Life-Extending Treatments be Available for All?

Elderly Japanese ladies. Photo by Mr Hick46/Flickr By Dr. Christopher S. Wareham / 08.03.2017 Lecturer in Applied Ethics Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics University of Witwatersrand Research into biological ageing suggests that humans might one day be able to prolong youth and postpone death. When that time comes, extended youth could become a province of the wealthy, adding[…]

Can You Pass this Smell Test?

The smell of daffodils is a treat for most people, but some cannot experience the joy because they have lost their sense of smell. Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko/Shutterstock.com By Dr. Steven D. Munger / 08.24.2017 Director, Center for Smell and Taste Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics University of Florida Each of our senses gives us a unique[…]

Final Decision? Why the Brain Keeps on Changing Its Mind

Pasta? Pizza? Clams? Kai Schreiber/Flickr By Dr. Stephen M. Fleming / 11.29.2016 Principal Research Associate at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging University College London Benjamin Franklin once quipped: ‘There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know oneself.’ Every decision we make, from pinpointing the source of a faint sound to choosing[…]

Sleepwalking is the Result of a Survival Mechanism Gone Awry

John Everett Millais The Somnambulist / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Philip Jaekl / 03.03.2017 Neuroscientist Last night, most of us went to the safety and comfort of our beds before drifting off to a night’s sleep. For some, this was the last conscious action before an episode of sleepwalking. Recent research from Stanford University shows that up to[…]