Monday, January 30, 2012

Stepping up to tackle drug-resistant malaria at the source

50 years ago, chloroquine-resistant malaria spread to Africa and killed millions of children.
Flickr/DFID – UK Department for International Development
Gains to control and eliminate malaria will be jeopardised by growing drug resistance in western Cambodia unless the global health community initiates a speedy, scientifically sound and coordinated response, says Nicholas J. White.
The emergence of resistance to artemisinin — a drug used to combat infections with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum — mirrors the emergence of resistance to a different drug, chloroquine, which arose in the same part of Cambodia 50 years ago. It then spread quickly to Africa killing millions of children.
The only way to ensure that artemisinin-resistant malaria does not reach the rest of the tropical world might be to eliminate P. falciparum malaria at its source, at least temporarily, argues White. The affected part of Cambodia is geographically separated from other malarial areas, so this should prove possible, he says.
White pinpoints three questions to consider in deciding a course of action. Is enough being done to counter the threat, has artemisinin-resistant malaria spread already and is a truly radical approach to disease control justified?
If artemisinin resistance spreads widely, current strategies against malaria will be made redundant, he says.
The world has shown a limited ability to respond rapidly and effectively to global threats from infectious diseases. A 'passive model' of response — where individual countries make funding proposals to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, for example — seems too "hit-and-miss", says White. He suggests that affected countries are involved in finding a solution, that the WHO takes a strong lead to tackle the problem and that high-level political backing for this effort is essential.

Build on genomic advances to benefit the poor

Salmonelle enterica Typhi, the microorganism that causes typhoid fever

Sequencing of the pathogen that causes typhoid fever promised benefits not yet achieved
Flickr/ Sanofi Pasteur
The scientific community must make a concerted effort to build on advances in genomics research if it is to benefit people in resource-poor settings, says Stephen Baker, head of enteric infections at the Wellcome Trust's Major Overseas Programme at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, United Kingdom.
There are plenty of genome sequences, says Baker, but the value of such research is less easy to pinpoint. For example, although ten years ago the genome sequencing of the microorganism that causes typhoid fever made elimination a realistic target, promises of bespoke treatments, next-generation vaccines and low-cost diagnostics have failed to materialise.
The reasons for this are "depressingly obvious", writes Baker. The people and communities affected by typhoid do not have the power to influence the scientific community or decision-makers, who tend to come from a wealthier background where direct contact with the disease is limited. And there are no advocacy groups for typhoid or other diseases of poverty.
Major international donors, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, prioritise diseases using metrics and tables — but because typhoid is difficult to detect, global prevalence is probably underestimated and the disease drops down the list of priorities in international assessments.
Much of the funding and technological expertise needed for genomics research and follow-up studies are found in countries removed from the realities of the disease. By contrast, sequencing the HIV virus, which affects wealthier countries, has led to remarkable progress in public health practice. This shows that strong scientific investment alongside political and community support is essential for reaping the benefits of genomics research.
Unless these issues are addressed, genomics research runs the risk of persisting as an exciting academic advance that does little to improve public health, argues Baker. He suggests that funding agencies give genomics researchers the opportunity to see how the infection affects endemic countries, and support collaborations "that aim to bridge the geographical and technological gap".

Biomed Analysis: Don't overlook the ageing 'epidemic'

Health systems in developing nations aren't ready for the diseases that accompany ageing, writes Priya Shetty.
Thanks in large part to modern medicine, people are living longer, death rates are lower and the planet's population keeps climbing — it is expected to hit 7 billion this month.
Much of this growth has been, and will continue to be, in the poorer parts of the world, especially in Asia and Africa.
In developing countries, the proportion of people aged 60 years and over is expected to rise from 9 per cent in 2005 to 20 per cent by 2050, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). The WHO estimates that by 2025, three-quarters of the estimated 1.2 billion people aged over 60 will live in developing countries.
With many more people living well into middle age, and more prosperously, global health experts have been concerned about an increasing burden of chronic diseases which, on top of infectious disease killers such as HIV and malaria, have threatened to overwhelm ailing health systems.
Living longer also brings diseases of ageing, such as dementia, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease, which poor nations are woefully prepared to deal with.
Some of the diseases are likely to have different epidemiological patterns in poor countries, and research into interventions must be tailored to these populations.
Mapping the ageing 'epidemic'
Until recently, little had been known about the health of older people, and the prevalence of diseases of old age, in developing countries.
Last year, a joint report by the International Network for the Demographic Evaluation of Populations and Their Health in Developing Countries (INDEPTH) which gathers demographic data from more than 30 sites in Africa and Asia and the WHO Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE), mapped the health of older people in poor countries for the first time.
The study identified patterns of disease prevalence and risk factors across countries and continents that should help guide research and policy. For instance, older women tend to have worse health than older men. In some regions, such as in parts of Indonesia, older people with the worst health live in semi-urban areas, rather than rural areas.
A key point that the 2010 INDEPTH-SAGE report makes is that industrialised countries have only had to deal with ageing after achieving economic prosperity. But the speed of economic growth in some countries has meant that they are dealing with ageing while still transitioning to a more developed economy.
In India, for example, the segment of the population aged 70 and above, which was only 8 million in 1961, rose to 21 million in 1991 and to 29 million in 2001.
Culture and genetic differences
Even though developing countries can learn some lessons from richer countries about taking care of their ageing populations, there are crucial differences in how ageing will affect them.
In particular, several diseases of ageing involve cognitive decline — and poor countries will have by far the most cases. By 2040, according to the WHO, 71 per cent of 81.1 million people suffering from dementia will be in the developing world.
Efforts to tackle these illnesses must take account of different cultural factors in developing countries. For example, cognitive assessment scales used to measure a change in brain function are now being adapted for a range of languages and cultures, although they are not fully developed for all diseases and populations.
For example, the 10/66 Dementia Research Group, which studies dementia, non-communicable diseases and ageing in low and middle income countries, has developed and validated dementia diagnosis methods that account for variations in language, culture and education in Latin America, Africa, South and South-East Asia, and Russia.
The risk factors for diseases of ageing are also likely to be influenced by genetics and lifestyle, which will require research specific to the developing world. For instance, a variation of the apoE4 gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer's is prevalent in populations in several regions, although not in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Ageing debate: start now
Ageing may seem like a distant concern for developing nations already shouldering the burden of many diseases. But the sheer number of older people who will live in these countries makes a strong argument for dedicating research funds to studying diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Governments will also need to debate how donors should respond to changing demographics. Global aid has traditionally been funnelled into infectious diseases, but should donors also aim to improve the health of ageing populations?
The answer is not yet clear. But developing countries must start to consider the issues.
Efforts to keep people healthy later in life could even pay off economically. If developing countries looked after their ageing populations, they could have a much stronger and well-skilled workforce.

Breakthrough in quest to turn seaweed into biofuels

Brown seaweed
The pilot project will use brown seaweed, commonly known as giant kelp, from an aquafarm off the coast of Chile
Bio Architecture Lab Inc
[SANTIAGO] Brown seaweed's potential as a vast source of biofuels has been highlighted with the announcement that scientists have found a way of converting all its major sugars into ethanol.
A team reported in Science today (19 January) that it has engineered a microbe that will convert the sugars to ethanol, overturning one of the main obstacles to making the use of brown macroalgae, or seaweed, as a biofuel feedstock competitive.
The prospective ethanol yield from brown seaweed is approximately two times higher than that from sugarcane and five times higher than maize, from the same area of cultivation.  
But its full potential cannot be reached because of the inability of industrial microbes to break down alginate, one of the three most abundant sugars in brown seaweed, commonly known as kelp, which is the most widely grown seaweed in the world.
Now, researchers based in Chile, France and the United States say that they have developed the first microbe capable of fermenting all the major sugars found in a common species of brown seaweed (Saccharinna japonica).
"This [development] makes [brown seaweed] a viable biomass for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals," Yasuo Yoshikuni, co-author of the study and chief science officer at Bio Architecture Lab (BAL) Inc — a US company that has built four seaweed farms off the coast of Chile — told SciDev.Net.
The team engineered Escherichia coli bacteria, which has the natural ability to metabolise glucose and mannitol — the other two main sugars in brown seaweed — and Vibrio splendidus a microorganism containing all necessary genes to metabolise alginates.
As a result, the scientists were able to get a yield of bioethanol directly from seaweed equivalent to 15,000-20,000 litres per hectare per year.
An analysis by the US Department of Energy has previously reported that, if technical barriers were overcome, brown macroalgae could produce 19,000 litres per hectare per year.   
Brown seaweed "does not compete with food crops or terrestrial plants for land and fresh water, and seaweed aquafarming can absorb excess nutrients in the ocean [which can cause oxygen depletion]", said Yuki Kashiyama, head of BAL Chile.
Stephen Mayfield, director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology at the University of California, San Diego, United States, told SciDev.Net: "This is a great engineering feat but, at least for right now, kelp is not a viable feedstock for ethanol production, and won't be until we can figure how to grow it and transport it to a processing site in an easy and energy efficient way".
According to Yoshikuni, to demonstrate "overall process economics more in depth" an experimental pilot facility is being built in Chile and is scheduled to start scaling up the process by July. For this stage BAL has received a grant from CORFO (see Chile is committed to algae-based biofuels, in Spanish), the Chilean agency that promotes innovation. 

Trees near homes boost incomes, sequester carbon

Ziziphus fruit in Mozambique
Alongside mango and cashew, scientists also recommend planting ziziphus
A form of small-holder agroforestry in which trees are planted around the home, maximising the land left available for cash crops, may prove the best balance between sequestering carbon and making money by farming other crops, a study has found.
There has been a proliferation of projects that encourage small-scale farmers to adopt tree planting as part of efforts to sequester carbon from the atmosphere to help mitigate climate change.
But there is a conflict of policy interests because trees can take up land used for growing cash crops, thereby reducing farmer's profits. In many cases there are no payments for planting trees and, even where there are, the money does not match the lost profits from crops.  
Researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE), United Kingdom, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, assessed seven different tree-planting systems in the N'hambita Community Carbon Project, in rural Mozambique, for the value of crops and the amount of carbon sequestered.
These included planting trees in fruit orchards; in dedicated woodlots; within or around their agricultural fields; or around the house on land not previously used for agriculture.
The researchers found the optimum balance between carbon sequestration and raising farmers' incomes to lie in 'homestead planting', where trees were planted around the house.
The density of trees was lower than in a woodlot, but still higher than in other systems, and suitable trees included mango and cashew, which had the potential to provide income though sales of fruit and timber.
Charles Palmer, lead author and a lecturer at the LSE, said farmers who grow both trees and cash crops earn two sources of income: carbon payments and the returns from cash crops.
"Based on prices received for VERs [Verified Emissions Reductions, or carbon offsets], the carbon payments are, relative to cash crop returns, small anyway, hence contributing less to incomes," he said.
Eike Luedeling, a climate change scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, told SciDev.Net that, while including diverse agroforestry options in carbon sequestration activities may lower the carbon storage potential, it can make carbon sequestration attractive to farmers.
"The net carbon storage potential — a product of sequestration potential and number of farmers doing it — may thus well be higher for agroforestry options, because they are much more likely to be adopted."  
The researchers say that this is the first in-depth study of a land-use project in Africa that includes cash crops in the carbon sequestration strategy.  They say few carbon sequestration projects are located in Africa, although the benefits from such projects could have relatively greater impact there than in other, richer developing regions.

Nitrogen fertiliser 'could prevent locust swarms'

Oedaleus asiaticus juvenile locust

Nitrogen fertiliser 'could prevent locust swarms'

Oedaleus asiaticus locusts thrive on nitrogen-poor diets
Muren Bao
[BEIJING] A surprising finding promises a cheap and environmentally friendly way of controlling locust swarms, a major plague that devastates crops around the world.
Land erosion caused by heavy livestock grazing promotes locust swarms by lowering the nitrogen content in plants that locusts feed on, according to a study published in Science today (27 January).
Conversely, the study also found that locusts do not thrive on nitrogen-rich food, as previously thought, but are in fact hampered by it.
"Nitrogen fertiliser — which plants use to make protein — may be an inexpensive, more environmentally friendly pest control solution for this species," said the lead author Arianne Cease, a researcher at Arizona State University, United States.  
Most herbivores, including insects, are thought to be limited by the availability of nitrogen-rich protein in their diets.  
But scientists were surprised to find that this is not the case for Oedaleus asiaticus, a dominant locust of the north Asian grasslands and a close relative of the common African pest O. senegalensis.
The Chinese–US team studied the locusts at the Inner Mongolia Grassland Ecosystem Research Station, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
Field observations found that locusts were less likely to survive in fields that were fertilised with nitrogen, and their density was highest in the most heavily grazed fields — which were dominated by plants with low nitrogen content. Laboratory experiments showed that locusts preferred to eat plants with low nitrogen content.
"This is the first time it has been shown that Oedaleus locusts strongly prefer to consume low- nitrogen plants from heavily grazed plots," Kang Le, a locust expert at CAS's Institute of Zoology and a co-author of the study, told SciDev.Net.
Since heavy livestock grazing in Mongolia leads to a loss of topsoil and nitrogen, this also means that overgrazing may promote locusts outbreaks, according to the study. "With enhanced soil erosion, locust swarms could become more common," Cease said.
The habitat studied by the researchers is typical of the Eurasian grasslands that cover much of Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and some of northern India. But researchers say that their findings might also apply in other regions with locust swarms.  
"We suspect that something similar might be happening in closely related species," Cease added. "For example, the Senegalese grasshopper (Oedaleus senegalensis) shares the same genus as our Asian species. It is … considered the main pest of the Sahel, voraciously targeting millet and sorghum fields.
"We have applied for funding to collaborate with researchers in Senegal," Ceasse said. "Our goal is to understand if what we have learned about the Asian locust can be applied to other locusts and be used to help minimize outbreaks in the Sahel."
Tong-Xian Liu, professor of entomology, and dean of the College of Plant Protection at Northwest A&F University, in China, said the study will have "a revolutionary impact" on the way we think about locust pest management and grazing practices.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New issue of Wellcome News

The magazine Wellcome News features articles exploring the research the Wellcome Trust supports, its funding opportunities and wide-ranging activities.

The latest issue (Winter 2011) includes a feature on researchers tackling so-called 'neglected tropical diseases', a quick guide to the neuron, and the winning entries of the 2011 Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize.

The magazine's 'From the Archive' feature regularly highlights material from the Wellcome Library's collections: in the spotlight in the latest issue is a rather surprisingly item from our holdings, a pair of sandals produced by the fashion manufacturer Red or Dead. Why are these shoes in our collections? All is revealed on pages 32-33 of the new Wellcome News (PDF).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We're not psychic...

... so we’re asking you to tell us what you’re thinking*. We mean about the Library, and in particular about your last visit to us. And that's plenty to be getting on with.

We’re coming to the end of our first full year of surveying our Library visitors and we’ve found your feedback enormously useful. We really do appreciate the time you've taken to complete the surveys, and we’ve found your comments and suggestions invaluable.

Last week we sent out the latest survey which we run in partnership with Morris Hargreaves Mcintyre. We’ve edited the survey and reduced the number of questions. We haven’t cut back on the opportunities for you to feed back to us in the free-text sections though, and we really do want you to tell us about the Library. We read every free-text comment, and if something needs addressing we will do our best to fix it.

The surveys are submitted anonymously, so we can’t respond to you directly. But we are listening, and where we can, we’re making the necessary changes.

If you have questions or comments about the survey please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via email at

*See Medical Collection WM950 if you fancy having a go.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mesmerism on show

Mesmeric therapy. Wellcome Library no. 44754i

Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) was the promoter of a form of animal magnetism (named Mesmerism after him), at first in Vienna (1773-1777) and subsequently in France (1778-1784). His unique selling point was the supply of mesmeric fluid that served to rebalance the magnetic polarity of the animal body. His doctrine was one of many that sought to bring the animal body (the microcosm) into harmony with the larger world outside (the macrocosm). Such doctrines have a long history, from Hippocratic aphorisms about the effects of weather on certain temperaments to our contemporaries' warnings about asthma, allergies and air pollution.

As a therapist, Mesmer, like other innovators (James Graham, Edward Jenner, John Brown etc.) offered his therapy outside the established world of academia, the court, and the royal colleges. Indeed, they sometimes came into conflict, as Mesmer did in Paris. Both his popular appeal and the disdain of the establishment brought him publicity of commercial value.

Hence the many depictions of his therapeutic sessions. One of them is shown in an oil painting in the Wellcome Library (above). The patients are seated around Mesmer’s baquet, a large flat drum containing mesmeric fluid. Pipes, tubes and cords emerging from the drum could be applied to the affected parts: one man on the far left is winding a cord doused in mesmeric fluid around his head, while several others are applying the ends of the tubes to their eyes (detail left). A woman in Turkish dress in the centre foreground is treating the eye of a child to a dose of the mesmeric fluid.

While oil paintings were seen by few, prints were seen by many, if only in the shop windows of print-sellers and stationers in the high streets of towns and cities. Among several prints of mesmeric therapy in the Wellcome Library is this coloured engraving of Mesmer in Paris (above), with text below describing the scene (Wellcome Library no. 17918i). It shows one gentleman resting his right foot on the drum so that mesmerism can be applied to his shin. There is also a view through to a second baquet in a room off at the left.

Until today, the catalogue description of this print made no mention of any of the authors (artist, designer, engraver or publisher) of this print: it was by an unidentified hand.However, Sotheby's have in their forthcoming drawings sale in New York a pair of drawings attributed to the artist Claude-Louis Desrais (1746-1816), and one of them (Sotheby's Old master drawings, New York 25 January 2012, lot 123) is the original design for the Wellcome Library's coloured engraving. Indeed Sotheby's say in their catalogue record that this drawing and a similiar one by Desrais were "probably intended for prints or book illustrations as they are reddened on the reverse". However, as the Wellcome Library print is much cruder in execution than the drawing -– Sotheby's drawing has much finer detail -- there may have been an intermediary print or drawing from which the Wellcome Library's engraving was copied. An impression of the same engraving is also in the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, and no doubt there are others elsewhere.

The attribution to Desrais on stylistic grounds is satisfying because Desrais is known to have produced a portrait of Mesmer (right: Wellcome Library no. 23327i). If he was Mesmer's in-house image-maker, then, although he does not seem to be recorded as an oil-painter, could the Wellcome Library's painting also be by him? It does look like the work of someone unaccustomed to such a cumbersome medium.

The other drawing at Sotheby's (same sale, lot 124) shows a woman standing within a circular knee-high cage surrounded by three men in animated conversation. Another man (left) seems to be turning up a gas light, while on the right a demonstration is taking place of a closed vessel on a column. Perhaps someone familiar with public demonstrations of natural philosophy in Paris at this period can identify the event? It should be dated not later than 1816, the year of Desrais's death.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

‘What’s cooking? Food and eating at home’ conference

Friday 9 March 2012, Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, 9.30 – 17.00
Jim and JayneTurner at the kitchen table eating dinner with their pet cat ‘Chang’, Pinner,Middlesex, 1962-63 ©The Geffrye Museum of the Home

In association with the Wellcome Library, the Histories of Home Subject Specialist Network will be holding its 4thannual conference on the theme of food within the domestic setting in the UK.

Papers willexplore the changing feelings and meanings attached to kitchens; gender and identityissues around cooking, feeding and kitchens; the transmission of culinary knowledge;patterns of food consumption at home as well as the impact of design and newtechnologies on the use of virtual and real foodspaces. There will also be a presentationon interpreting food preparation spaces and food consumption within a historichouse setting.

The conference programme reflects the interdisciplinary approachof the Histories of Home SSN and will draw on social geography, foodhistory, sociology, social gerontology, design, digital and social anthropologyas well as artistic and museum practice. 
Peter Jackson (University ofSheffield): Anxious appetites: researching families andfood
Ines Amado (De Montfort University): Story-telling, exchange and observations ofthe everyday

Stephanie Baum (Institute ofEducation): An analysis of cooking from the perspectiveof hegemonic masculinity in transformation
Maria das Graças Brightwell (Royal Holloway,University of London): Food consumption and the practice of everydaylife in two Brazilian mixed households in Harlesden, London
Manpreet K. Janeja (University of Cambridge):Feeding and eating ‘proper meals’ at home andbeyond 
Alysa Levene (Oxford BrookesUniversity): Margarine, social class and the home:exploring the ‘margarine mind’ in rationed Britain
Angela Meah (University of Sheffield): “Of course I know that; you told me thatyears ago”: the acquisition of culinary knowledge in British families
Anne Murcott (SOAS & Universityof Nottingham): A century of English cookery books: examiningwhat they can reveal about trends in food preparation, recipes and eating athome
Lida Papamatthaiaki (UCL): Digital symposiakotita @ new foodspaces
Sheila Peace (Open University): Continuity and change: aspects of the foodenvironment across the life course
Sara Pennell (University of Roehampton) & Victoria Bradley (Ham House, National Trust): Foodways in the heritage house 
Rachel Scicluna (Open University): Is the kitchen as ‘hub of the household’ amyth? Or is it the hub of politics and social change?

For more informationand booking details, please go to

"The flamboyant Mr Chinnery"

Thomas Colledge with patients in Macao. Aquatint by by William Daniell, 1834, after George Chinnery. Wellcome Library no. 9880i  

"The flamboyant Mr Chinnery" is the title of an exhibition on view at Asia House, in the West End of London.* It is a rare chance to see a representative collection of paintings and drawings from private and public collections by the English artist George Chinnery (1774–1852). Though born in Gough Square in the City of London, and baptized at St Bride's church off Fleet Street, Chinnery spent most of his life in Bengal (1812-1825), then from 1825 to 1832 in Canton (Guangzhou), and finally in the Portuguese colony of Macao (Macau), where he died. Since Chinnery was not only well-travelled but also prolific, versatile and long-lived, the exhibition covers a lot of ground, in every sense.

In India and China Chinnery painted portraits and landscapes, and sketched picturesque scenes of Chinese card-players, boat-girls and builders at work. Among the portraits the exhibition includes mezzotints of William Jardine, the Scottish doctor who abandoned medicine to become an opium trader (co-founding the firm of Jardine Matheson & Co.), and of the Rev. Robert Morrison the missionary, who is shown in 1828 with his assistants translating the Bible into a 21-volume Chinese version, which raises the question as to whether the portrait is mentioned in Morrison's papers in the Wellcome Library. Chinnery's portrait of James Holman "The blind traveller", who travelled 250,000 miles recording his experiences with a "noctograph" is on loan from the Royal Society. A masterly pair of contrasting portraits belonging to HSBC shows two Chinese merchants of Canton: Mowqua (plump and relaxed) and Howqua (emaciated and self-controlled).
Group portraits include the aquatint of Thomas Colledge (1796-1879) operating in his eye-surgery in Macao established in 1827 (above and top), and the oil painting On Dent's Verandah (1842-1843, private collection), in which three men (French, American and British) involved in opium trading with Thomas Dent and Co. (rivals of Jardine Matheson) lounge in the humidity of Macao with a prominent opium poppy in the foreground. This will surely end up in one of the great public collections.

The landscapes show the fine Portuguese baroque churches of Macao (São Lourenço and the Jesuit church of São Paulo depicted before and after the fire of 1835) standing above the hustle and bustle of typical Chinese streets. A DVD Chinnery then and now cleverly juxtaposes Chinnery's street scenes with photographs of the same places in Macao as they appear today. A bridge at Honam (Canton) was painted at the request of the physician Thomas Boswall Watson, himself an amateur artist, who as a doctor would later perform an autopsy on Chinnery's body.

However, for any one familiar with Hong Kong, the most heart-stopping moment will be the last item in the exhibition: a drawing of Hong Kong made during a six-months visit in 1846, towards the end of Chinnery's life. After only five years of western ownership, the palatial headquarters of the great trading firms are already in place on the harbour front and are creeping up the hill – the start of the Hong Kong business building boom.

This drawing, like others by Chinnery, is inscribed by him in Gurney shorthand (his father was a teacher of it). At present the Colledge print is the only item in the Wellcome Library catalogue under Chinnery's name, but there are many uncatalogued drawings in the Library, and an eye should be kept open for drawings of East Asian subjects with shorthand annotations using this system – they are likely to be Chinnery's.

In Macao a street is named Rua George Chinnery in his honour, and in 1974 a trilingual inscription in English, Chinese and Portuguese was added to his tombstone to mark his 200th birthday. The exhibition is equally a fitting tribute to Chinnery's talent as a recorder of people and places, and shows that, given the right choice of subject, a modest exhibition space can provide as enriching an experience as any blockbuster.

For more on the exhibition see Brian Sewell's review in the London Evening Standard, 1 December 2011: he reproduces On Dent's Verandah. [1]


* Open Monday-Saturday 10-6 until Saturday 21 January 2012 at Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP, admission free. Sponsored by HSBC.

All Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine

All Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine

Collage: Paul Ehrlich, J. Robin Warren and Barbara McClintock
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded 102 times to 199 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2011.
Bruce A. Beutler, Jules A. Hoffmann, Ralph M. Steinman
Robert G. Edwards
Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider, Jack W. Szostak
Harald zur Hausen, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Luc Montagnier
Mario R. Capecchi, Sir Martin J. Evans, Oliver Smithies
Andrew Z. Fire, Craig C. Mello
Barry J. Marshall, J. Robin Warren
Richard Axel, Linda B. Buck
Paul C. Lauterbur, Sir Peter Mansfield
Sydney Brenner, H. Robert Horvitz, John E. Sulston
Leland H. Hartwell, Tim Hunt, Sir Paul M. Nurse
Arvid Carlsson, Paul Greengard, Eric R. Kandel
Günter Blobel
Robert F. Furchgott, Louis J. Ignarro, Ferid Murad
Stanley B. Prusiner
Peter C. Doherty, Rolf M. Zinkernagel
Edward B. Lewis, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, Eric F. Wieschaus
Alfred G. Gilman, Martin Rodbell
Richard J. Roberts, Phillip A. Sharp
Edmond H. Fischer, Edwin G. Krebs
Erwin Neher, Bert Sakmann
Joseph E. Murray, E. Donnall Thomas
J. Michael Bishop, Harold E. Varmus
Sir James W. Black, Gertrude B. Elion, George H. Hitchings
Susumu Tonegawa
Stanley Cohen, Rita Levi-Montalcini
Michael S. Brown, Joseph L. Goldstein
Niels K. Jerne, Georges J.F. Köhler, César Milstein
Barbara McClintock
Sune K. Bergström, Bengt I. Samuelsson, John R. Vane
Roger W. Sperry, David H. Hubel, Torsten N. Wiesel
Baruj Benacerraf, Jean Dausset, George D. Snell
Allan M. Cormack, Godfrey N. Hounsfield
Werner Arber, Daniel Nathans, Hamilton O. Smith
Roger Guillemin, Andrew V. Schally, Rosalyn Yalow
Baruch S. Blumberg, D. Carleton Gajdusek
David Baltimore, Renato Dulbecco, Howard Martin Temin
Albert Claude, Christian de Duve, George E. Palade
Karl von Frisch, Konrad Lorenz, Nikolaas Tinbergen
Gerald M. Edelman, Rodney R. Porter
Earl W. Sutherland, Jr.
Sir Bernard Katz, Ulf von Euler, Julius Axelrod
Max Delbrück, Alfred D. Hershey, Salvador E. Luria
Robert W. Holley, Har Gobind Khorana, Marshall W. Nirenberg
Ragnar Granit, Haldan Keffer Hartline, George Wald
Peyton Rous, Charles Brenton Huggins
François Jacob, André Lwoff, Jacques Monod
Konrad Bloch, Feodor Lynen
Sir John Carew Eccles, Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, Andrew Fielding Huxley
Francis Harry Compton Crick, James Dewey Watson, Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins
Georg von Békésy
Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet, Peter Brian Medawar
Severo Ochoa, Arthur Kornberg
George Wells Beadle, Edward Lawrie Tatum, Joshua Lederberg
Daniel Bovet
André Frédéric Cournand, Werner Forssmann, Dickinson W. Richards
Axel Hugo Theodor Theorell
John Franklin Enders, Thomas Huckle Weller, Frederick Chapman Robbins
Hans Adolf Krebs, Fritz Albert Lipmann
Selman Abraham Waksman
Max Theiler
Edward Calvin Kendall, Tadeus Reichstein, Philip Showalter Hench
Walter Rudolf Hess, Antonio Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz
Paul Hermann Müller
Carl Ferdinand Cori, Gerty Theresa Cori, née Radnitz, Bernardo Alberto Houssay
Hermann Joseph Muller
Sir Alexander Fleming, Ernst Boris Chain, Sir Howard Walter Florey
Joseph Erlanger, Herbert Spencer Gasser
Henrik Carl Peter Dam, Edward Adelbert Doisy
No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.
No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.
No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.
Gerhard Domagk
Corneille Jean François Heymans
Albert von Szent-Györgyi Nagyrápolt
Sir Henry Hallett Dale, Otto Loewi
Hans Spemann
George Hoyt Whipple, George Richards Minot, William Parry Murphy
Thomas Hunt Morgan
Sir Charles Scott Sherrington, Edgar Douglas Adrian
Otto Heinrich Warburg
Karl Landsteiner
Christiaan Eijkman, Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins
Charles Jules Henri Nicolle
Julius Wagner-Jauregg
Johannes Andreas Grib Fibiger
No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.
Willem Einthoven
Frederick Grant Banting, John James Rickard Macleod
Archibald Vivian Hill, Otto Fritz Meyerhof
No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.
Schack August Steenberg Krogh
Jules Bordet
No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.
No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.
No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.
No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.
Robert Bárány
Charles Robert Richet
Alexis Carrel
Allvar Gullstrand
Albrecht Kossel
Emil Theodor Kocher
Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov, Paul Ehrlich
Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran
Camillo Golgi, Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Robert Koch
Ivan Petrovich Pavlov
Niels Ryberg Finsen
Ronald Ross
Emil Adolf von Behring

10 top inventions for 2011

  • In the five years that Popular Science has run the Invention Awards, we’ve seen a lot of remarkable things come out of people’s garages. Some are designed to treat the sick or save the planet. Others are simply fun to play with. But no matter what the purpose, the brilliance of the inventions and the dedication of the individuals behind them are always inspiring.
    This year’s 10 honorees carry on the tradition: a pen that can screen for prenatal diseases for less than a penny, a machine that uses a boat’s exhaust to treat onboard waste, and even a jet-propelled body board light enough to carry from your car to the water. Each of this year’s inventions takes on a different challenge—and solves it in its own ingenious way.
  • The Stark Hand
    Image: A prosthetic hand protoype is cheap, and helps the wearer catch balls and grip wine glasses.
    John B. Carnett  /  Popular Science
    Created by Mark Stark, The Stark Hand prototype provides an ingenious, comfortable, and very inexpensive alternative to the hook his friend Dave Vogt had worn all his life. With the new hand, Dave can now catch balls and grip wine glasses.
  • The BodyGuard
    Image: This crime-fighting armored glove has a wrist-mounted stunner and a video camera built in.
    John B. Carnett  /  Popular Science
    David Brown designed The BodyGuard, a crime-fighting armored glove, as built-in self protection. The demo model has a camera, a wrist mounted stunner and lots of room for future improvements. The idea came to David while talking to his friend, Kevin Costner.
  • The PrintBrush
    Image: This lightweight PaintBrush fits in a laptop bag and prints on any flat surface.
    Jonathan Worth  /  Popular Science
    Weighing in at less than a pound, Alex Breton's PrintBrush easily fits in a laptop bag and prints on any flat surface, from wood to fabric to plastic. Alex worked on the project for 11 years, but a version with a bonus built-in camera comes out early next year.
  • The Katal Landing Pad
    Image: This giant cushion gives snowboarders a soft landing.
    Jussi Grznar  /  Popular Science
    Aaron Coret and his friend Stephen Slen came up with the Katal Landing Pad after Aaron had a nasty snowboarding accident. The board, which was used during the 2010 Winter Olympics, provides a giant cushioned landing for snowboarders and helps make the sport safer.
  • Dynamic Eye Sunglasses
    John B. Carnett  /  Popular Science
    Unlike regular sunglasses, Chris Mullin's glasses block glare instantly with liquid crystal lenses that darken the most where the sun's light is the brightest. A particularly sunny commute inspired Mullin's invention. .
  • The Bed Bug Detective
    John B. Carnett  /  Popular Science
    Built to imitate a dog's nose, the Bed Bug Detective sniffs out bedbugs quickly. Chris Goggin plans to create a model that can detect other pests, too, including mice and cockroaches.

  • A Prenatal Marker to Screen for Pregnancy Complications
    John B. Carnett  /  Popular Science
    Designed by a college student and his classmates, the Prenatal Screening Kit, or safety pen, helps detect complications in pregnancies at an early stage. The pen will be quite cheap, costing only a third of a cent per use, making it a perfect tool for hospitals in developing nations.
  • The Zero Liquid Discharge
    Image: The Zero Liquid Discharge vaporizes sewage from boats, airplanes and RVs.
    John B. Carnett  /  Popular Science
    With a pleasant name for a gross procedure, the Zero Liquid Discharge, or ZLD, completely oxidizes and evaporates sewage from boats, airplanes and RVs. After flash evaporation, the waste leaves as a harmless, odorless aerosol.
  • Kymera Motorized Body Board
    Image: The Kymera Body Board — a light, motorized body board.
    John B. Carnett  /  Popular Science
    The lightweight Kymera Body Board is Jason Woods's solution for a timeless problem (for lucky people): how to have fun at the lake without the hassle of lugging a boat around. The latest version of his motorized body board hits speeds of 25 mph.
  • The Medical Mirror
    Image: The Medical Mirror can tell you your heart when you look at it. A webcam behind the mirror captures variations in reflected light on your face, and an algorithm translates that into heartbeats.
    John B. Carnett  /  Popular Science
    While it can't tell you if you're the fairest of them all, the Medical Mirror can tell you your heart rate, which is probably more valuable in the long run anyway. A webcam behind the mirror captures variations in reflected light on your face, and an algorithm translates that into heartbeats.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Human Anatomy

Picture of the Human Kidney

Picture of the Kidneys

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© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
The kidneys are a pair of organs located in the back of the abdomen. Each kidney is about 4 or 5 inches long -- about the size of a fist.
The kidneys' function are to filter the blood. All the blood in our bodies passes through the kidneys several times a day. The kidneys remove wastes, control the body's fluid balance, and regulate the balance of electrolytes. As the kidneys filter blood, they create urine, which collects in the kidneys' pelvis -- funnel-shaped structures that drain down tubes called ureters to the bladder.
Each kidney contains around a million units called nephrons, each of which is a microscopic filter for blood. It's possible to lose as much as 90% of kidney function without experiencing any symptoms or problems.

What's New and Beneficial About Onions

Onions Onions
What's New and Beneficial About Onions
  • The flavonoids in onion tend to be more concentrated in the outer layers of the flesh. To maximize your health benefits, peel off as little of the fleshy, edible portion as possible when removing the onion's outermost paper layer. Even a small amount of "overpeeling" can result in unwanted loss of flavonoids. For example, a red onion can lose about 20% of its quercetin and almost 75% of its anthocyanins if it is "overpeeled."
  • The total polyphenol content of onions is much higher than many people expect. (Polyphenols are one of the largest categories of phytonutrients in food. This category includes all flavonoids as well as tannins.) The total polyphenol content of onion is not only higher than its fellow allium vegetables, garlic and leeks, but also higher than tomatoes, carrots, and red bell pepper. In the French diet, only six vegetables (artichoke heart, parsley, Brussels sprouts, shallot, broccoli, and celery) have a higher polyphenol content than onion. Since the French diet has been of special interest to researchers in terms of disease prevention, onion's strong polyphenol contribution will very likely lead to follow-up studies that pay closer attention to this unique allium vegetable.
  • Within the polyphenol category, onions are also surprisingly high in flavonoids. For example, on an ounce-for-ounce basis, onions rank in the top 10 of commonly eaten vegetables in their quercetin content. The flavonoid content of onions can vary widely, depending on the exact variety and growing conditions. Although the average onion is likely to contain less than 100 milligrams of quercetin per 3-1/2 ounces, some onions do provide this amount. And while 100 milligrams may not sound like a lot, in the United States, moderate vegetable eaters average only twice this amount for all flavonoids (not just quercetin) from all vegetables per day.
  • When onions are simmered to make soup, their quercetin does not get degraded. It simply gets transferred into the water part of the soup. By using a low-heat method for preparing onion soup, you can preserve the health benefits of onion that are associated with this key flavonoid.
  • When we get quercetin by eating an onion-rather than consuming the quercetin in purified, supplement form-we may end up getting better protection from oxidative stress. That's exactly what happened in an animal study where some animals had yellow onion added to their diet in a way that would provide the same amount of quercetin provided to other animals in the form of purified quercetin extracts. The best protection came from the onion version of this flavonoid, rather than the supplement form.
  • Several servings of onion each week are sufficient to statistically lower your risk of some types of cancer. For colorectal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancer, between 1-7 servings of onion has been shown to provide risk reduction. But for decreased risk of oral and esophageal cancer, you'll need to consume one onion serving per day (approximately 1/2 cup).
WHFoods Recommendations
With their unique combination of flavonoids and sulfur-containing nutrients, the allium vegetablesâ€"such as onionsâ€"belong in your diet on a regular basis. There's research evidence for including at least one serving of an allium vegetable--such as onions--in your meal plan every day.
When onion is your allium vegetable of choice, try to consume at least one-half of a medium onion on that day, and use this guideline to adjust your recipes accordingly. For example, if you are following a recipe that yields 4 servings, include at least 2 medium onions in the recipe so that each of your 4 servings will contain at least one half medium onion.
To bring out the sweet flavor of onions we recommend using our Healthy Saute method of cooking onions for just 7 minutes. Cut onions into slices of equal 1/4-inch thickness to help them cook more evenly. The thinner you slice the onions the more quickly they will cook. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes to enhance their health-promoting properties. For more details see the Healthiest Way of Cooking Onions in the How to Enjoy section below.

Food Chart
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Onions provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Onions can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Onions, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

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