Lectures

The scientific entrepreneur as hero: from Arrowsmith to the covid-19 vaccines

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Cover Arrowsmith, Pocket Books, 1944 Edition

Sinclair Lewis’s novel Arrowsmith, published in 1925 to critical and public acclaim (the book was awarded the Pulitzer prize, although Lewis refused it), is a bildungsroman with an unusual hero: a young doctor cum scientist, Martin Arrowsmith (Lewis, 1925). The hero’s career includes a range of roles and positions: he is at …

Lectures

Science Skepticism as a Veneer for Nationalistic Humor

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Recently we saw a splash of headlines about the Russian Covid-19 vaccine, as Russia became the first country to register a vaccine and governmental officials shared plans for starting mass vaccinations in October. This news was shared all over my social media, with the commentary hewing to repetitive jokes, the humor value of which was based on an implied shared …

Lectures

Standards and urgency in times of pandemics: hydroxychloroquine as a pharmaceutical and political artefact

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Separated by two meters of water from the crowd, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, infected by COVID-19 and wearing his mask, rallied up his supporters, “If by chance your mother or grandfather catches it, will they take chloroquine or not?”

“They will!” shouted back the crowd in unison, across the narrow strip of water.

Hydroxychloroquine has turned from being a commonly …

FeaturesTeaching Resources

Immunity and (Anti-)Vaccination: Histories, Metaphors, Theories – A Syllabus

The natural body meets the body politic in the act of vaccination, where a single needle penetrates both. – Eula Biss, On Immunity 

In recent years, outbreaks of highly contagious diseases like measles and whooping cough have reached epidemic proportions in the US. Such a resurgence in supposedly eradicated diseases has been attributed to rising rates of vaccine refusal in …

Web Roundups

Web Roundup: Public Health

I assume everyone is, like me, tired of (and stressed out about) the US election, so let’s take a break from that to take a quick look around at some interesting recent public health stories.

According to data released last month by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, the maternal mortality rate in the

Features

Storage and stockpiling as techniques of preparedness: Managing the bottlenecks of flu pandemics

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In the last twenty years, influenza has been considered by global health experts as a model for the emergence of new pathogens from animal reservoirs. In the logic of zoonoses, human disease is the tip of the iceberg constituted by a wide circulation of viruses – often asymptomatic – in animals; it is often described as an “evolutionary dead-end”. As …