Carola Eisenberg: A Lucky Life

Carola Eisenberg, M.D. (1917 -2021) Dr. Eisenberg, a psychiatrist, was born with a social conscience. She was descended from Jewish socialist refugees from Czarist Russia and was a native of Argentina, where by her account she was inspired to pursue psychiatry after visiting a mental hospital as a teenager with her father. One of our colleagues, the Mohs miscographic surgeon Dr. Jenny Stone, has warm memories from her student days at Harvard of Carola Eisenberg: “In September 1978, I was a nervous first year student at Harvard Medical School.  In the midst of a flurry of faculty-introductory speeches, one person stood out: Dr. Carola Eisenberg, our new dean of student … Continue reading


    There is nowhere Black people can go to not be inside a carceral gaze or at risk of experiencing police brutality. …And we, in healthcare, have to [start] building that sanctuary for folks as their human right. Rhea Boyd In her recent New England Journal Perspective essay, “Without Sanctuary”1 S. Michelle Ogunwole suggests that our hospitals and offices should be sanctuaries for our patients.  She writes: In quiet moments, I often reflect on how our society decides who deserves punishment and who deserves redemption. I think about grace, and how Black people get so little. I think about trust, and how Black people get so little. I think about … Continue reading

Bernard Lown (1921 – 2021)

Dr. Bernard Lown, the Harvard cardiologist who invented the first effective heart defibrillator and was one of a group of co-founders of an international organization that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for its campaign against nuclear war, died on on February 16, 2021 at his home in Chestnut Hill, Mass. He was 99. If you are not familiar with Dr. Lown, the NY Times Obituary is a good place to begin. His book, “The Lost Art of Healing” (1996) was inspirational reading for me. Here are my notes if anyone wants to see them. Here are some excerpts from the Preface: Medicine’s profound crisis, I believe, is only partially … Continue reading

Living With Medicine: breathing in art # 1

by Hesam Noroozi* When my high school geology teacher saw his caricature in the hands of first-row students, I struck a deal with God: “Get through this, and I’ll never draw another caricature again!” As nobody mentioned the name of cartoonist to him I jumped out of that situation. God had accepted the deal! *************** Around the eighth semester of medical school I chose cartooning as my main hobby for the rest of my life. In the ensuing years, I have participated in solo and group cartoon exhibitions around the world, but except for one cartoon of Francois Hollande) President of France, 2012 – 2017) I haven’t drawn any more … Continue reading

H. Jack Geiger M.D.

A Doctor Who Fought Social Ills, Dies at 95 He used medicine to take on poverty, racism and the threat of nuclear destruction. I’ve heard about Jack Geiger for decades – but didn’t know what a picaresque life he led!  After reading his obit in the 12.29.20 NY Times, I can’t wait for the movie starring Harrison Ford to screen. Excerpts: NY Times Obit. Dr. H. Jack Geiger, who ran away to Harlem as a teenager and emerged a lifelong civil rights activist, helping to bring medical care and services to impoverished regions and to start two antiwar doctors groups that shared in Nobel Peace Prizes, died on Monday at … Continue reading

W.H. Auden on The Skin Microbiome

A New Year Greeting The poet, W.H. Auden, matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford in 1925 with a scholarship to study Biology. This poem should interest physicians, especially dermatologists. Had Auden become a biologist, think what the world might have lost! Osler quotes Lowell: “We reward the discoverer of an anaesthetic for the body and make him a member of all the societies, but him who finds a nepenthe for the soul we elect into the small Academy of the Immortals.’” (from John Keats: The Apothecary Poet, in The Alabama Student.) This poem was published in Scientific American in 1969 On this day tradition allots         to taking … Continue reading

Polypharmacy: an Introduction

We recently came across a great video to introduce this subject. Bohemian Polypharmacy on Youtube A good review article on this topic is: How polypharmacy has become a medical burden worldwide. “Taking a multitude of medicines, whether they are prescription drugs, OTC treatments, herbal or dietary supplements — known as polypharmacy — is not only a burden for patients, it can be dangerous. We need a way to mitigate the danger of unwanted drug interactions and improve drug adherence to essential medicines, and this is as true for the United States as it is in Europe. It is imperative that patients are empowered to make informed decisions about the medicines … Continue reading

Campaigns of Fear

It’s Time to Scare People About Covid — We need a Campaign of Fear Our public messaging about the virus should explain the real costs — in graphic terms — of catching the virus. by Elisabeth RosenthalNY Times  Dec. 7, 2020 Link to Article. (If the link doesn’t work — here is the article.) I still remember exactly where I was sitting decades ago, during the short film shown in class: For a few painful minutes, we watched a woman talking mechanically, raspily through a hole in her throat, pausing occasionally to gasp for air. The public service message: This is what can happen if you smoke. I had nightmares … Continue reading

COI: Alive & Thriving at NEJM

COI: Alive and Thriving at the NEJM by David J. Elpern, M.D. Abstract: As a reader of the New England Journal of Medicine for more than 50 years, I have observed its growing entanglements with the pharmaceutical industry.  This analysis of a recent NEJM research article highlights authorial and editorial conflicts of interest (COI) and discusses how the Journal benefits financially from pharmaceutical advertisements for the very drug reported on in the Original Article.  What does this say about top tier medical publishing when the world’s most prestigious medical journal is clearly intertwined with the drug industry? The December 3, 2020 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), … Continue reading

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