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Dr Howard Markel

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It is the 157th birthday of someone whose life is proof that you shouldn't let the negative opinions of your professor get in the way of your ambitions.

William Mayo, half of the dynamic duo who went on to found the famed Mayo Clinic, was born this week in 1861.

Dr. Howard Markel, University of Michigan medical historian and PBS contributor, joined Stateside to tell us about his extraordinary life. 

New York City's Asylum for the Insane on Blackwell's Island
Moses King / British Library

This past Saturday was the 154th birthday of Nellie Bly, one of the first (if not the first) American investigative journalists.

Her willingness to be checked into the New York City Women's Insane Asylum helped change the way America treated people who were mentally ill.

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More than five million Americans are living right now with Alzheimer's Disease. The number could be as high as 16 million by the middle of the century.

We're familiar with this devastating brain disease, but few remember the man who identified it and gave it his name.

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The Great Gatsby, an American classic, was published on this day in 1925.

The book sells half a million copies each year, totaling over 25 million copies sold since it was published. It’s been made into a movie five times. But author F. Scott Fitzgerald went to his grave thinking it was a flop.

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On the Fourth of July in 1939, Lou Gehrig said farewell to fans at Yankee Stadium because he had contracted a fatal disease. He added, “I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”

Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

Regular Stateside contributor Dr. Howard Markel said there are some questions as to whether Gehrig received the proper diagnosis. If it wasn't ALS, then what could have killed the Yankee legend? 

GUEST  

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Today marks the 141st birthday of a Nobel prize-winner who is well-known to baby-boomers, but perhaps less well-known to later generations.

Dr. Albert Schweitzer was a physician, philosopher, theologian, organist and humanitarian. He was German and French and is known for his charitable work including opening a hospital in Africa.

Yet, his legacy is not without controversy.

University of Michigan medical historian Dr. Howard Markel stops by and gives us a quick history of the person behind the Nobel Prize: Alfred Nobel. Nobel’s big first big breakthrough was in 1863, when he mastered detonating nitroglycerine, which many know as TNT.

Later in life, Nobel wanted to recognize those who had made great advancements in a variety of arts and sciences including medicine, physics, chemistry, physiology, and literature. Later, other disciplines were added to the list.

Portrait of Oscar Wilde, taken by Napoleon Sarony circa 1882
Miscellaneous Items in High Demand collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-07757

115 years ago today, a great literary voice was silenced.

Oscar Wilde died November 30, 1900. He was only 46 years old.

Since then, it has been widely held that Wilde succumbed to the ravages of end-stage syphilis.

But some determined modern physicians have done some medical detective work and have developed a much different theory about what killed the great writer: an ear infection.

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Ninety two years ago this week, an American president died.

Warren G. Harding became the sixth chief executive to die on office. His death fueled rumors, including the bizarre claim that the First Lady had poisoned the President.

Harding was on 15,000 mile tour of the nation called “The Voyage of Understanding” when he passed.

Harding was in San Francisco and his wife was reading a complimentary newspaper article about him out loud.

Suddenly, “he shuddered and fell on his bed and, as they say, dropped dead,” says Dr. Howard Markel of the University of Michigan Medical School.

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This week marks the 94th anniversary of the birth of one of the most determined and important women in medical science: Rosalyn Yalow.

While many people may not know her by name, countless patients have benefited from her research.

"She's one of the unsung heroes of modern radiation medicine," says University of Michigan medical historian Dr. Howard Markel.