Categotry Archives: Medicine


John Mack


Categories: Education, Medicine, Scientists, Writers/Editors

jmack.jpgDr. John Edward Mack, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and a leading authority on alien abductions, died on Sept. 27. He was 74.
The New York native earned a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and a medical degree from Harvard University. Mack spent two years in the U.S. Air Force after interning at Massachusetts General Hospital and doing his residency at Massachusetts Mental Health Center. He later graduated from the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and became a certified practitioner of child and adult psychoanalysis.
Mack joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1964 and was named a full professor of psychiatry eight years later. He started the psych unit at Cambridge Hospital, then founded the Center for Psychology and Social Change; the center was later renamed the John E. Mack Institute, in his honor. He also wrote or collaborated on 11 books, including “A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T.E. Lawrence,” which won the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for biography.
In the final years of his life, Mack earned a worldwide reputation for studying people who claimed to have been kidnapped by aliens. With a grant from Laurance Rockefeller, Mack became the founding director of the now-defunct Program for Extraordinary Experience Research, a project that examined how alien abductions affected people’s lives.
Although his work was criticized in scientific and media circles, Mack found researching abductees a fascinating endeavor. After a decade of study and about 200 interviews with “experiencers,” he marveled at the consistency of their stories and noted that such otherworldly encounters often resulted in a heightened sense of spirituality and environmentalism. Mack penned two books on the subject: “Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens” and “Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters.” His controversial work served as the subject of the 2003 documentary “Touched.”
Mack was attending the T.E. Lawrence Society Symposium in Oxford, England, when he was struck by a car while walking across a street. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR
Listen to a Short Interview From the Film “Touched”


Godfrey Hounsfield


Categories: Medicine, Scientists

ghounsfield.jpgSir Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield, a British electrical engineer and Nobel laureate who pioneered the development of the CAT scan, died on Aug. 12. Cause of death was not released. He was 84.
Although Hounsfield was born near Newark, England, and raised on a farm, his interest in science developed at an early age. As a teen, he built a phonograph from spare parts, several radio sets and a water-jet-propelled glider. Upon receiving his radio communications qualification certificate, Hounsfield joined the Royal Air Force in 1939. During World War II, he learned enough about radar technology to teach it to other technicians.
Hounsfield returned to the classroom after the war to earn a degree in electrical and mechanical engineering from the Faraday House Electrical Engineering College in London. He then became a project engineer at Electrical and Musical Instrument Ltd., heading the design team that created the EMIDEC 1100, the first all-transistor computer in Britain.
In 1967, Hounsfield was taking a walk through the countryside when he first dreamed of a machine that could process hundreds of X-ray beams to obtain an internal display of a box. Inside the EMI research laboratory, Hounsfield designed a prototype computerized tomography scanner and used it to view the interior of a cow’s brain. A patent for the prototype CT scanner was granted to him in 1972.
Unbeknownst to Hounsfield, South African physicist Allan M. Cormack had also dreamed of a similar device. Instead of building the machine, however, Cormack wrote the first theoretical papers on the CT-scan system. The two scientists won the 1979 Nobel Prize in medicine and met at the award ceremony. Cormack died in 1998.
“CAT” scan machines, which take non-invasive, three-dimensional images of the human body, are now used in hospitals worldwide to diagnose a wide variety of medical conditions. The images produced by these machines are measured in Hounsfield units. Hounsfield also won the 1972 MacRobert award from the Council of Engineering Institutions. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1975 and knighted in 1981.


Elisabeth Kübler-Ross


Categories: Medicine, Writers/Editors

To millions of people facing immediate mortality, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross offered a sense of comfort and clarity.
The best-selling author, world-renowned psychiatrist and expert on death and dying wrote more than 20 books on the subject, including “To Live Until We Say Good-Bye,” “On Children and Death” and “AIDS: The Ultimate Challenge.” But she was best known for the groundbreaking 1969 bestseller “On Death and Dying,” which presented her theory that people who are dying go through five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. She also encouraged the terminally ill to join support groups, keep a journal and plan comforting rituals to accompany their death, such as planting trees or donating money to a favorite cause.
Born a triplet in Zurich, Switzerland, Kübler-Ross weighed only 2 pounds at birth and was not expected to live. She thrived, however, and grew up to work for the International Voluntary Service for Peace. Kübler-Ross graduated from the University of Zurich medical school in 1957 and moved to New York the following year. While interning at a local hospital, she was appalled to see how dying patients were shunned and abused by the staff. In response, she decided to become an advocate for hospice care.
Kübler-Ross completed her degree in psychiatry at the University of Colorado in 1963 and made helping people understand and face death her career. She traveled the world giving lectures to members of the medical profession, and offered suggestions on how to serve terminally ill patients and their families. From 1977 to 1995, Kübler-Ross directed the Shanti Nilaya – Growth & Healing Center, a medical facility for the terminally ill in Escondido, Calif. After suffering a series of strokes five years ago, she was forced to give up most of her work on the lecture circuit.
In 1979, The Ladies’ Home Journal honored Kübler-Ross with a Woman of the Decade Award. Twenty years later, Time magazine named her one of the “100 Most Important Thinkers” of the past century. Her autobiography, “The Wheel of Life: A Memoir of Living and Dying,” was published in 1997.
Kübler-Ross died, surrounded by family and friends, on Aug. 24 of natural causes. She was 78.
Listen to an Interview With Kübler-Ross


Stephen R. Tabet


Categories: Medicine

stabet.jpgDr. Stephen R. Tabet, a world-renowned physician and AIDS activist, died on July 6. Cause of death was not released. He was 42.

Raised in Belen, N.M., Tabet graduated from the University of New Mexico Medical School and earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington. He became an infectious disease specialist and worked to improve prison health care. At McNeil Island Corrections Center in Steilacoom, Wash., he developed a treatment program for inmates with hepatitis C and overhauled the prison’s clinic after it was shut down for various failings.

As the deputy editor of the HEPP Report, Tabet documented how the Limestone Correctional Facility in Harvest, Ala., provided inadequate care for HIV-infected prisoners. Prior to his investigation, inmates with HIV were isolated from other prisoners and mistreated or ignored by the medical staff. Tabet’s report led to a landmark court settlement last month.

An associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington, Tabet also worked with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network to help develop a therapy program for people who were infected with HIV as vaccine test subjects. In October, the HIV Education Prison Project plans to name its Prison Medicine Advocacy Award in his honor.


Dorothy Brown


Categories: Medicine, Politicians

Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown was a conduit for social change. She was the first black woman to become a surgeon in the South, the first black woman elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives and the first single adoptive parent in that state.
Born out of wedlock and abandoned by her mother, Brown’s exact birth date is unknown. She was raised in orphanages and foster homes, but was smart enough to graduate from Bennett College for Women and Meharry Medical College.
Brown interned for a year at Harlem Hospital in New York City, yet was rejected when she applied for a surgical residency. At the time, many in the medical profession did not believe a woman, let alone a black woman, could handle the rigors of surgical training. Brown turned to Dr. Matthew Walker, Meharry Medical College’s longtime chief of surgery, for help.
Against the advice of his staff, Walker asked Brown to join the faculty. She became a professor of surgery in 1957, a job she held until 1983, and was the second black woman to be named a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Brown also held the position of chief of surgery at Riverside Hospital in Nashville for 25 years.
Her tenure in the political arena was short-lived, but remarkable. During the height of the civil rights era, Brown was elected as an independent to the state House of Representatives. During her one term in office (1966-1968), she co-sponsored a bill that created “Negro History Week,” which grew to become Black History Month. She also introduced legislation to legalize abortion in cases of rape or incest. Abortion wasn’t fully legalized until the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973.
Brown never married, but in 1957, she became the first single parent to adopt a child in Tennessee. She named her infant daughter Lola Denise, and later adopted a son, Kevin, as well. For her many contributions to society, she received a humanitarian award from the Carnegie Foundation in 1993.
Brown died on June 13 of congestive heart failure. She was approximately 90 years old.

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