Medical History

The Crescent Hotel and Norman Baker

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is home to a beautiful Victorian hotel with a long and winding history. A colorful part of that history involves a man who claimed that doctors couldn't be trusted, and that he had the cure for cancer.

The Doctors' Riot of 1788

In the late 1700s, medical colleges needed cadavers for educational dissection, but there were no legal means for obtaining them. This led to some unorthodox dealings in the acquiring of bodies, and brought New York to a fever pitch in 1788. Read the show notes here.

The Flu Epidemic of 1918

The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, which killed somewhere between 20 million and 50 million people, started just as World War I was winding down. Nobody cured it, or really successfully treated it. A fifth of the people in the world got the flu during the pandemic. Read the show notes here.

Elizabeth Blackwell, America's First Female M.D.

It's not a story of a person with a childhood dream of pursuing a career that wasn't available to them. Dr. Blackwell had no interest in medicine as a child. But she paved the way for women who came after her and changed the face of medicine in the U.S. Read the show notes for this episode here.

Avicenna

You may never have heard of him, but Avicenna was one of the first, and probably the most influential, Islamic philosopher-scientists. He's listed among the great philosophers in Dante's Inferno and is mentioned in the prologue to the Canterbury Tales.

Edward Jenner, Father of Vaccines

Smallpox has been around longer than recorded history. It killed royalty, shifted the tides of battles, and was so terrifying that many religions have gods, saints and martyrs associated with it. And Edward Jenner gets the credit for changing all that.

Encephalitis Lethargica

From 1916 to about 1927, a strange epidemic spread around the world. It caused unusual symptoms, from drastic behavior changes to a deep, prolonged sleep that could last for months. Between 20 and 40 percent of people who caught the disease died.

Alan L. Hart was a doctor, writer, and prominent figure in the fields of radiology and tuberculosis control. He was also one of the first people in the U.S. to have surgery in an effort to transition to a different gender than the one he had been assigned at birth.

Phineas Gage

In 1848, Phineas Gage experienced a catastrophic brain injury and survived -- though altered -- for more than 11 years. Over time, he morphed into one of the world's most famous case studies in how damage to the brain can affect behavior.

Selman Waksman and the Streptomycin Controversy

An accomplished bacteriologist, Selman Waksman and his students and colleagues isolated many new antibiotics in the 1940s, including streptomycin and neomycin, earning him the nickname Father of Antibiotics.