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Sunday, March 1, 2015   6:31 AM   |   56°F

Anatomy

Happy Belated Birthday, Andeas Vesalius

Page 164 of Andreas Vesalius: De corporis humani fabrica libri septem

 

We missed the 499th birthday?áof Andreas Vesalius who was born on December 31, 1514. 500th year?ácelebrations of the man and his accomplishments are in the works.

The LSUHSC Libraries is lucky enough to own a 1568 edition?áof his De humani corporis fabrica libri septem which is housed in the Isch?® Library Rare Books Room (and is available by appointment only). The first edition of this title is from 1543.

For more information, see this post from NLM’s Circulating Now blog.

Also, you can view the digitized?á1543 edition of De humani corporis fabrica libri septemat the NLM’s Historical Anatomies on the Web?ápage.

 

This Month in History: The Body of Art

As soon as the human body became an object of study and curiosity, art attempted to render it, inside and out. The recreational artist may depict a scene of illness or portraiture, while the specially-commissioned medical artist records anatomical structure and surgical procedure for purposes of instruction, collaboration, and publishing. Well-known pioneers of the modern practice of medical illustration include Leonardo Da Vinci and Andreas Vesalius; their legacy continues well into contemporary culture in tandem with advances in photography and various other image-capturing technology to create a comprehensive visual understanding of medical practice.

LSU Medical School employed its own Medical Arts Department, headed by William Branks Stewart from 1933 until his death in 1950, to observe and document cases as needed. ÔÇ£Would You Like a Portrait of Your Appendix?ÔÇØ asks a Times-Picayune article from 1946–a memorable keepsake, indeed (though you might enjoy this plush version more). Mr. StewartÔÇÖs body of art includes drawings, paintings, photographs, plaster molds, and even animations for use as visual aids in demonstration, in print, and in the classroom. Our Library has made available a digitized collection, aptly named the William Branks Stewart Collection, as a sampling of his works.

Mr. StewartÔÇÖs services were often requested in order to document rare cases and new procedures for later study and review. According to the above article, he would often take the time to familiarize himself with the entire operation in as many as twelve separate instances. A firm understanding of the techniques involved in a procedure and how best to communicate those steps to a student, he found, are necessary skills for the successful medical illustrator. When asked to contextualize his work, Mr. Stewart related his duties to those of an archaeologist with one important difference:” none of them ever had to look down a gastroscope!”

In addition to his professional position as Head of Medical Arts and contributor of drawings to the LSU student-run newspaper, The Tiger, William Branks Stewart was a member of the New Orleans Arts League and the Association of Medical Illustrators. By 1946, he had illustrated eleven textbooks by LSU professors, made plastic prosthetic eyes to replace glass ones, taken moulages (plaster or wax casts) of skin lesions, and even painted names on office doors. He submitted artwork to the Delgado Museum (now the New Orleans Museum of Art), an example of which can be seen here (be sure to take a look at the inscription on the reverse side).

A graduate of the Glasgow School of Arts in Scotland, it appears Mr. Stewart was destined for great things. In a prompted address to readers of The Tiger (page two), he candidly states, “Why did I study art? To make big money? Am I making it? To dodge work? Am I dodging it? Have I failed? No, I am doing something I enjoy, among people I enjoy, and in what I consider to the be most interesting city in America. So what the h—.”

Medical illustrations continue to be of great importance to our students as often photographs alone cannot provide a clear picture of the field under observation. Or, if you are like me, you may appreciate less “icky” renderings of our vicera.

Interested in learning more about the history of medical illustration, art in medicine, or anatomy study? Be sure to take a look at our Library Catalog!

Glimpse of the Past is an ongoing project to promote the Louisiana Digital Library effort. This Month in History will present for your reading pleasure a closer look into a newspaper clipping of note from our Digital Collections and articles relating to the LSU Medical School.

This Month in History: The Alligator Men

As a Louisiana native or even an adventurous visitor, youÔÇÖve probably fed an alligator a marshmallow or two. WhatÔÇÖs the allure of marshmallows to a wild swamp creature? We may never truly know, but for an animal that will scarf down turtle shells, rocks, lures, beer cans, and shoes, marshmallows are probably the least of its worries.

Profiled in the Times-Picayune for their project in 1951, the self-proclaimed LSU “alligator men” studied the production of acid gastric juice and self-induced hibernation in alligators, as compared to iguanas and chameleons. The stars of this ÔÇ£zooÔÇØ were Dr. Roland Coulson, LSUMC faculty (1944-2004), Dr. Thomas Hernandez, LSUMC faculty (1960-1977) and Chair of Pharmacology, Dr. Fred G. Brazda, LSUMC faculty (1939-1977) and Chair of Biochemistry, and their graduate student, Dr. Herbert C. Dessauer. In the preface of a later work, Alligator Metabolism, Coulson and Hernandez speak to the origin of their honorary titles”: “It is not possible to have done research on alligators for many years without having gained a reputation for eccentricity as a consequence of the choice of experimental animal. One accepts this and learns to live with it. [...] By some, an alligator man is tolerated (as a harmless eccentric should be), and by others he is admired for the fearless manner in which he confronts such a ‘terrifying’ beast.”

Though certainly fearless, these doctors chose smaller gators to reduce the risk of injury, and by the time the animals reached a rowdy 20 pounds, they were returned to the swamp. Because alligators produce a large amount of hydrochloric acid during digestion, they perform a more dramatic and more readily observable process of digestion. Alligators are also tougher physically and less prone to blood poisoning, making them easier to study. In addition to their excellent acid production, the test gators self-induced a sort of hibernation in winter despite the fact that researchers kept them in windowless rooms with automatic lights; by abstaining from food and decreasing sugar in the bloodstream, the test subjects did not grow.

The practical application of the research of the “alligator men” may not seem readily apparent, but as Dr. Coulson explains in the newspaper article, ÔÇ£The scientist doesnÔÇÖt have to be working toward the cure of any specific malady [ÔǪ] but often he stumbles upon it by accident, through just a study as ours.ÔÇØ They developed enough material to write numerous journal articles (PubMed author search results hyperlinked above) and monographs. Two books co-authored by Dr. Coulson and Dr. Hernandez are available in the Library: Alligator Metabolism: Studies on Chemical Reactions in Vivo and Biochemistry of the Alligator: A Study of Metabolism in Slow Motion.

Dr. Herbert Dessauer, who began as a humble graduate student and would go on to become Professor Emeritus of molecular biology at LSU Medical Center, passed away earlier this month after a brief illness. We would like to recognize his contributions to not only the scientific community, but also to LSU.?á For more information on the contributions of each of the renowned doctors mentioned in this post, please consult A History of LSU School of Medicine New Orleans, which is available in the Library. When you stop by, be sure to check out our display cases, which are home to various medical artifacts including an analytical balance used by Coulson, Hernandez, and Dessauer.

Glimpse of the Past is an ongoing project to promote the Louisiana Digital Library effort. This Month in History will present for your reading pleasure a closer look into a newspaper clipping of note from our Digital Collections and articles relating to the LSU Medical School.

The Poetry of Dr. George William Cooper

Dr. Cooper, a one-time anatomy Professor at the LSU Medical School, was also well-renowned for his poetry.?á Recognized for his ÔÇ£consistently good work in poetryÔÇØ by a forum of the National Writers Club in 1951 and awarded the position of Louisiana Poet Laureate from 1973-1976, Dr. Cooper is a?ácommon subject of our Newspaper Clippings Digital Collection. Though the Isch?® Library does not own any of his poetry collections, they are available through InterLibrary Loan.

Excerpted below?á is a poem from one of?áhis collections dedicated to a previous ÔÇ£Glimpse of the PastÔÇØ honoree, Dr. Frank N. Low. I would like to?áshare this poem with our new and returning students, who will surely feel the ÔÇ£grindÔÇØ immediately upon returning to classes:

This Month in History: Pay No Attention to the Doctor Behind the Iron Curtain

A young, bespectacled version of the Wizard of Oz, Dr. Frank N. Low, lived up to the great and powerful legacy as a member of LSUMCÔÇÖs anatomy faculty, venturing behind the Iron Curtain in 1958. His travels came at a time of international tension, but in the name of science, Dr. LowÔÇÖs survey of electron microscope usage in laboratories across Europe proved invaluable in transcending the iron divide and promoting cross-cultural cooperation.

Cover Art for “Klop” the Bedbug; http://tinyurl.com/8h3hycr

Remarking on the ÔÇ£exoticÔÇØ subway of Moscow, the ÔÇ£finely developedÔÇØ Russian sense of humor, and the popularity of the play, ÔÇ£Klop” the Bedbug, in his interview with the Times-Picayune, Dr. Low appears to have enjoyed his surroundings overseas. He even brought home an object known as the ÔÇ£Tartar MenaceÔÇØ that would turn out not only to be lucky for Low, but also for his research assistant, a previous ÔÇ£Glimpse of the PastÔÇØ honoree, Dr. Marilyn Zimny, who upon receipt of the figurine received news that she had been awarded a research grant for $28,000. The ÔÇ£Tartar MenaceÔÇØ appears to refer either to a group of indigenous Mongol peoples called the Tatars or Tartars, or the Greek myth of Tartarus, a section of the underworld. Despite its violent etymology, the figurine kept Dr. Low safe from even a stubbed toe on his journey.

And lucky we are that it did, for Dr. Frank N. LowÔÇÖs contributions to the scientific world were momentous. As of a 1953 article, ÔÇ£Dr. LowÔÇÖs study provide[d] proof of the existence of a complete covering of the tiny blood vessels in the lung. The presence of this covering, medically known as a pulmonary epithelium has long been in doubt. The significance of [his] discovery is that it is an explanation of how air is excluded from the lung tissue, a destructive process. This is why lung surgery is so cautiously practiced.ÔÇØ

His triumphs also include authoring a renowned text, Electron Microscope: Atlas of Normal and Leukemic Human Blood, acquiring an electron microscope for LSUMC, and pioneering scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and freeze-etch/freeze-fracture technology. His impressive career culminated in his later life with the establishment of the Annual Dr. Frank N. Low Research Day at the University of North Dakota. He returned to LSU at the end of his career to work under Dr. Zimny in the anatomy department until his death in 1998. This memorial article shows how truly respected and loved he was. Now, if only we could find his ÔÇ£Tartar Menace!ÔÇØ

 

Glimpse of the Past is an ongoing project to promote the Louisiana Digital Library effort. This Month in History will present for your reading pleasure a closer look into a newspaper clipping of note from our Digital Collections and articles relating to the LSU Medical School.

This Month in History: Dr. Hamlett & Zoological Treasure Hunting

Ever wondered how to catch a lizard? You might think to consult wikiHow or you might look up an instructional video on YouTube. Consulting our Digital Collection of newspaper clippings, however, would reveal quite an interesting portrait of a rugged, LSU Indiana Jones in pursuit of a rare treasure: the live-birthing lizard.

In 1953, the Times-Picayune ran an article on one Dr. George W. D. Hamlett, faculty of the LSU Medical School Department of Anatomy, whose research practices involved catching his subjects in the American Southwest rather than in a lab. Nets are all well and good for the casual lizard hunter, but Dr. HamlettÔÇÖs methods included an elaborate system of hammer, chisel, stick noose, and rifle. In order to capture the illusive live-birthing female lizard, he donned the traditional gear: khakis, hiking boots, and traded a fedora for a sun hat; armoring himself thus, he chiseled lizards out of rock formations and sought the mammal-like desert lizard among the trees. His interest in these lizards lay in their ability to produce young not through external development in an egg, but within the female of the species, an oddity for the reptile. Though Dr. Hamlett lacked the Indiana Jones bullwhip and the characteristic fear of snakes, his adventures were nevertheless harrowing.

The character of Dr. Jones is perhaps based on Sir Arthur Conan DoyleÔÇÖs character, Professor Challenger (a figure in turn based on his own Professor Sir William Rutherford) who is famous for having combined several areas of study such as archaeology, anthropology, and zoology in the pursuit of a totalizing knowledgeÔÇöÔÇ£Science seeks knowledge. Let knowledge lead us where it will, we still must seek it. To know once for all what we are, why we are, where we are, is that not in itself the greatest of all human aspirations?ÔÇ£(When the World Screamed). In the same way, Dr. HamlettÔÇÖs study of embryology continued on many divergent paths as he explored the complexities of the long-tongued bat, the badger, the armadillo, the cat, the coyote, and the American monkey, finally culminating in his study of humans.?á Some of his published works, ÔÇ£Embryology of the Molossoid Bat,ÔÇØ ÔÇ£Some Notes on Embryological Technique,ÔÇØ and ÔÇ£Human Twinning in the United StatesÔÇØ can be accessed through PubMed.

Though the similarities between Dr. Hamlett and Dr. Jones may not be many, there is an air of adventure to every quest for knowledge. Why can the scientist not leap across cliff faces and come to the rescue every now and then? But please be aware that there are no catacombs beneath this libraryÔÇÖs floorÔÇöyouÔÇÖll have to go to Venice for that.

 

Glimpse of the Past is an ongoing project to promote the Louisiana Digital Library effort. This Month in History will present for your reading pleasure a closer look into a newspaper clipping of note from our Digital Collections and articles relating to the LSU Medical School.

Historical Anatomies from NLM

: Suharaya Heisuke kanko, Kyoho gan [1716]). p.14r”] 

Interested in the history of anatomy? Or just want to see some cool old anatomical illustrations? Take a look at the National Library of Medicine‘s Historical Anatomies on the Web collection digitized for your enjoyment.

The collection covers the 15th through 20th centuries and currently includes over 40 titles.

Embryo app has NOLA connection

Embryo is new app for iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad from the NLM. This app provides a collection of digital serial sections of early stage human embryos for mobile devices. Features include human fertilization videos, photo micrographs of early-stage embryo development, 2D and 3D digital images using visual stack dissections, and a pregnancy calculator.

Embryo is especially cool because LSUHSC-NO scientists were involved in it’s creation. The app is a collaborative project between the NLM, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), the Virtual Human Embryo Project at LSUHSC-NO and the National Museum of Health & MedicineÔÇÖs Human Developmental Anatomy Center.

The Virtual Human Embryo Project was developed in the early 2000′s as a collaboration between embryologist Dr. Raymond Gasser at LSUHSC and the Human Developmental Anatomy Center in Washington DC. Dr. John Cork at LSUHSC joined the project at its inception as the software developer with a special interest in 3D-reconstruction. The images generated from the earlier project provide the basis for Embryo.

More information and screenshots from iTunes.

Old Dissection Room Photos

The American Medical Association‘s news section (amednews.com) has released a slide show of historic (and contemporary) photos which illustrate the changing attitude to cadaver study in anatomy labs.

I must admit, I would have been creeped out to receive the Christmas card (slide 4) from the cadaver lab.