In Sickness & In Health
Using powerful computational tools in conjunction with more traditional laboratory methods, biology professor David Roos parses the genes and proteins of the single-cell parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The work of the Roos group is widely recognized for having developed Toxoplasma as a genetic model, a guinea pig for studying other protozoan parasites, including the cell-invading bug that causes malaria. The World Health Organization lists malaria as one of the worlds Big Three infectious diseases. Roos discoveries have led to new drugs, now undergoing clinical trials, for slaying the malaria parasite.
Nathan Sivin, a historian of Chinese science and medicine, points out that sickness and health arent only about biology. People have the same body all over the world, he affirms. But to say that all are concerned with the same body is to lose sight of how differently physicians and other curers at various times and in various societies have perceived the body and explained sickness and health. . . . Every culture has its own way of thinking about [the body] and ways of using resources that happen to be present to treat it.
Money is, perhaps, a quintessentially American theme that comes up when
thinking about sickness and health. Alumnus Mitchell
Blutt, a partner with a New York private equity firm, makes note of
Americans schizophrenia when it comes to matters of
money and medicine. We want the best and the most health care, he says,
but were not willing to accept the tax increases needed to pay for
Emerita sociology professor Renée Fox calls attention to another American trait: the can-do optimism that put American surgeons at the forefront of organ transplantation. She cautions that unwillingness to face the limits of rescue-oriented medical intervention, which views death as an enemy, quite often leads to greater suffering. Americans, it seems, acknowledge the certainty of neither death nor taxes.
Medicine, Fox goes on to say, deals with every stage of the human life cyclefrom our coming in, to our going out. It summons up from the depths of our lives the troubling and unanswerable whys about suffering and death. Like religion, medicine touches profoundly on the human predicament: birth, growth, maturity, and decaythe allotted time each of us has to draw breath in sickness and in health. Til death do us part.