Monday, August 31, 2009

Journal Cancellations at UNC Health Sciences Library

The Health Sciences Library has concluded the journal review that it began earlier this summer, and selected 153 titles to be cancelled in 2010. Other titles on the review list will continue in 2010, but may be subject to cuts later on. The cancelled subscriptions will reduce expenditures by about $322,000, which will help the library meet its reduced budget due to statewide cuts. The list of cancellations is available online.

The library solicited input from a wide range of users before making any cancellation decisions, and applied several criteria to identify and evaluate candidates for reduction: cost per use; overall usage; impact on UNC audience; and cost effectiveness. Further information on the review process is available on the HSL web site. Updates on the UNC budget, including the Bain Report, are also available online.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Journal Cancellations at UNC University Library

An earlier Carolina Curator post noted the journal cancellation review at the UNC Health Sciences Library, but the UNC University Library is also undergoing a similar process. Approximately 640 titles are being proposed for cancellation. The list of titles is available for review online, and patrons can request that titles be retained by contacting the library by noon on Friday, August 28, 2009.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Descendants of Meriwether Lewis Seek Exhumation

A Scientific American blog reports that a group of almost 200 collateral descendants is again requesting permission to exhume the body of Meriwether Lewis [1774-1809], who was the co-leader of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806. Meriwether died on October 11, 1809 of two gunshots at an inn, Grinder’s Stand, while on his way to visit President Jefferson in Washington, D.C. The family hopes that forensic investigation will be able to determine whether Lewis’ death was murder or suicide. Because Lewis is buried on federal land in the present-day Natchez Trace Parkway, approval is required from the National Park Service, which has refused multiple requests in the past. In support of its effort, the descendants have established the web site, Solve the Mystery.

For numerous documents on the Lewis and Clark expedition, including the original letter from Jefferson first suggesting the idea in 1783 and the resulting journals of the expedition, see the American Journeys digital library at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

American Journeys contains many eyewitness accounts of North American exploration and settlement from the days of Columbus to the 1850s, with hundreds of references to matters of health and illness. (Note: The Carolina Curator was the digital production editor and metadata coordinator for this project).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Public Library of Science Launches PLoS Currents

Harold Varmus, Chairman and Co-Founder of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), has just announced PLoS Currents (Beta), an experimental website that is designed to accelerate the communication of research and ideas. The first project is PLoS Currents: Influenza, which utilizes Google Knol and Rapid Research Notes, a new database of the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Contributions on all aspects of influenza are being solicited, but will not be subject to in-depth peer review; instead a board of moderators will screen submissions, and all results and conclusions must be regarded as preliminary until such time as they merit publication in a formal journal.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Winner of 2009 McLendon-Thomas Award in the History of Medicine

Chris Dibble, a third-year MD/PhD student in the UNC School of Medicine, is the winner of the second annual McLendon-Thomas Award in the History of Medicine essay competition sponsored by the Bullitt History of Medicine Club. Funded by UNC alumni S. Gregory Boyd (MD '03, JD '04) and Laura Boyd (JD '02), the McLendon-Thomas Award honors Dr. William McLendon and Dr. Colin Thomas, Jr. and recognizes scholarly excellence in the history of health sciences.

Chris' winning essay was entitled, "The Dead Ringer: Medicine, Poe, and the Fear of Premature Burial," and he will be delivering a presentation to the Bullitt Club on December 10, 2009. Chris was also the winner of the inaugural McLendon-Thomas Award for his paper on Edward Trudeau Livingston's work on tuberculosis; a recording of his Bullitt lecture on Livingston is available online, along with all other lectures for 2008-9.

The essay competition is now accepting submissions for the current academic year, and is open to all UNC-Chapel Hill students in the health sciences: medicine, pharmacy, public health, dentistry, nursing, and allied health sciences. The deadline for submissions is April 1, 2010. For further information, please see the competition guidelines.

:: Greg and Laura Boyd live in New York City, where he is an attorney with Davis & Gilbert LLP and she is a legal recruiter with SJL Attorney Search. Greg considers the history of medicine to be one of the most important aspects of his medical education and and Drs. McClendon and Thomas among the best role models possible. They both strongly believe that the history of medicine represents a critical perspective and focus on the art of medicine that are necessary for training the best possible physicians, health care executives, and policy makers.

:: Dr. William W. McLendon served from 1973-1995 at UNC as Director of the Hospital Clinical Laboratories and as Professor and Vice-Chair of Pathology. Since his retirement in 1995 he has been Professor Emeritus of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. An MD graduate of UNC in 1956, he and Bob Whitlock (MD '57) were the student co-founders in 1954 of the Bullitt History of Medicine Club. Dr. McLendon is the co-author, along with the late Drs. William Blythe and Floyd Denny, of the recently published Bettering the Health of the People: W. Reece Berryhill, the UNC School of Medicine, and the North Carolina Good Health Movement.

:: Dr. Colin G. Thomas, Jr. joined the faculty of the UNC School of Medicine in 1952, and is currently Byah Thomason-Sanford Doxey Professor of Surgery. From 1966-1984 he served as Chair of the Department of Surgery, and from 1984-1989 as Chief of the Division of General Surgery. Dr. Thomas was one of the early faculty members of the Bullitt History of Medicine Club, and is the co-author, along with Mary Jane Kagarise, of the 1997 history, Legends and Legacies: A Look Inside: Four Decades of Surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1952-1993.

For more information on the Bullitt Club and events for 2009-10, please visit the Bullitt Club website.

Have a Cool Home Library?

Have a cool or otherwise esthetically pleasing home library you would like others to know about? If so, Chapel Hill Magazine is soliciting leads on libraries to appear in a feature article later this year or early next. Inquiries can be emailed to Andrea Griffith, an editor at the magazine. Andrea requests that folks respond by October 1, 2009, and that attaching a representative digital image or two would also be helpful. And, as pictured in the image here, a home library with a fireplace would be of especial interest to the magazine.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Exhibitions at UNC Health Sciences Library

There are a variety of physical and online exhibitions to check out at UNC Health Sciences Library at the start of the 2009-10 academic year. In the first-floor lobby display cases are the following three exhibits:

:: Great Minds, Great Finds: Explore Library Collections -- A survey of historical texts, images, instruments, and artifacts drawn from Special Collections at the library, representing the five professional schools in UNC Health Affairs: Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health

:: New Books in the History of the Health Sciences -- A selection of recent acquisitions, including such titles as The Making of Mr. Gray's Anatomy, Pioneers of Cardiac Surgery, Frontier Medicine, Sex, Sin and Science: A History of Syphilis in America, and Medicine under Canvas: A War Journal of the 77th Evacuation Hospital, among others. All are available in the library for check-out from the circulating collections or for perusal in the Special Collections Reading Room.

:: The Sam W. Hitt Medicinal Plant Garden at UNC Health Sciences Library -- Mr. Hitt served as library director from 1976 to 1986 and the medicinal plant garden in his honor is located at several locations around the library building. There is also on online exhibit of the garden, which includes a photo gallery and descriptions of its many growing plants.

In the new exhibition cases located near the User's Services desk are two additional exhibits, which are described in entries on this blog:

Other exhibits that are available online include the following:

:: UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health: Meeting the Public Health Challenges of the 21st Century -- This exhibit highlights both current initiatives and the history of School, and features audio, video, and photographic images.

:: History of the Health Sciences Library and UNC Health Affairs -- This exhibit traces the development of the library as well as the five Health Affairs schools.

Information about a number of other exhibitions at HSL and at UNC & UNC Libraries is available in the Exhibitions section of the Special Collections web site.

The images above are from the Hitt Medicinal Plant Garden online exhibit; the plants, from left to right, are: Garden Coreopsis (also called Moonbeam); Bee-Balm; Catnip; and Eastern Purple Coneflower. Lynn Eades, HSL Web Development Librarian, photographed all the plants.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chang and Eng Bunker, the Original Siamese Twins

One-hundred-eighty years ago, on August 16, 1829, two eighteen-year-old males, Chang and Eng, arrived in Boston from Siam aboard the Sachem. The Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.) reported in its August 22, 1829 issue that "It was one of the greatest living curiosities that we ever saw," as the two were conjoined, "connected by a cartilaginous substance about seven inches in circumference and four in length." Despite this congenital condition, the newspaper notes that "They appear to be in good health, and apparently contented with their confined situation."

The original "Siamese twins," as they became known, Chang and Eng toured widely, giving lectures and exhibitions, and were one of P.T. Barnum's most popular "curiosities." The twins added the surname Bunker when they become American citizens in 1839; their first names apparently meant left (Chang) and right (Eng). They enjoyed great notoriety and financial success, but eventually retired to Wilkes County, North Carolina in the late 1830s where they purchased a farm as well as slaves. They married the sisters Sarah and Adelaide Yates in 1843 and together had 21 children. They died on January 17, 1874, and are buried in the White Plains Baptist Church cemetery.

UNC University Library holds many materials related to Chang and Eng, including the Chang and Eng Bunker Papers in the Southern Historical Collection, and printed material and original photographs in the North Carolina Collection. The library also has an online digital collection, Eng & Chang Bunker: The Siamese Twins, that contains photographs, engravings, letters to and by the twins, account books, and published works.

The image above is from the North Carolina Collection Gallery. It is a watercolor on ivory, and was painted by an unknown French or Dutch artist in Paris circa 1835-6.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wiki See, Wiki Do

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is not the only governmental entity that is turning to the wiki as a means of communication (see previous Carolina Curator post on NIH & Wikipedia). The U.S. Army is now beginning a three-month pilot program to rewrite seven of its field manuals with a wiki, but anonymous contributions will not be allowed. According to a recent New York Times article, "Care To Write Army Doctrine? With ID, Log On," Army officials hope that "by embracing technology, the Army can break down barriers, save money, streamline processes and build a bright future."

The Army's field manual system comprises over 500 manuals and not all would be subject to "wikification," although some 200 practical manuals are slated as candidates, and will be renamed as "Army Tactics, Techniques and Procedures, or ATTP." Christopher Paparone, of the Army Command and General Staff College's Department of Logistics and Resources Operations, states: "My view (not an official view) is that we have been much too rigid in our doctrine. By using wiki, we begin to challenge dogmatic thinking," and that wikis made rank "immaterial."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Call for Papers: Sir Hans Sloane, Physician-Naturalist

"Sir Hans Sloane, The Greatest Physician-Naturalist of His Era," is an international conference commemorating the 350th anniversary of his birth that will be held at the British Library, June 7-8, 2010. Paper proposals are due by December 15, 2009.

The year 2010 marks the 350th anniversary of the birth of the physician Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753). Well-known as one of the greatest collectors of his age, he was also President of the Royal Society and the Royal College of Physicians, the major patron of the Chelsea Physic Garden, a physician to Queen Anne, George I and George II, and had many other connections throughout British society, leaving his name to the prestigious Sloane Square in London. His enormous network of acquaintances and correspondents throughout the world established him as probably the single most influential British 'scientist' between Isaac Newton and Joseph Banks. After his death, Parliament purchased his collections, which laid the foundation for what are now three institutions: the British Library, British Museum, and Natural History Museum.

A project has been generously funded by the Wellcome Trust to electronically re-create the bulk of Sloane's voluminous but now dispersed library, led by Alison Walker with the assistance of Shauna Barrett and the direction of Prof Hal Cook. It is now online and being continuously updated. The project's two host institutions, The British Library and The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, are sponsoring a two-day conference on Sloane and his collections.

We invite proposals on any aspect of the history and significance of Sloane and his activities; papers on the development of the Sloane collections after his lifetime will also be considered. Preference will be given to studies that make use of the new online catalogue. Those attending the conference will be responsible for organising their own travel and accommodation. We expect each presentation to take 20 minutes, which will be followed by 10 minutes for discussion, with an opportunity for more general discussion at the end of the conference. Depending on the quality of the papers, a publication may follow.

Please send your proposal by no later than December 15, 2009, which should be no more than one page in length, to Lauren Cracknell at The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, 183 Euston Rd., London NW1 2BE, UK, or emailed to

Inquiries may be directed to Hal Cook, via Lauren Cracknell, or to: Alison Walker, Lead Researcher, The Sloane Printed Books Project, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB020 7412 7465, or Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine University College London, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

HIV-1 RNA Genome Decoded by UNC Researchers

UNC researchers have reported in Nature the first decoding of a complete HIV-1 RNA genome. Featured on the cover of the August 6, 2009 issue, the research team describes the structure at single-nucleotide resolution in an article entitled, “Architecture and Secondary Structure of an Entire HIV-1 RNA Genome.” (JM Watts et al. Nature 460, 711-716 (2009)). Previous studies had modelled only small regions of the genome, and the new work will aid greatly in the understanding of the lifecycle of viruses and hopefully help speed the development of antiviral drugs. Further details on the study are available on the UNC School of Medicine web site.

Call for Papers by the AAHM

The deadline is fast approaching for those interested in submitting a paper proposal for the 83rd annual meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine to be held in Rochester, Minnesota from April 29th to May 2, 2010. AAHM uses an online submission system, and proposals are due by September 15, 2009. Papers may be on a variety of topics, including "the history of health and healing; history of medical ideas, practices, and institutions; and histories of illness, disease, and public health." The Program Committee also accepts proposals for multi-paper sessions and luncheon workshops. Please contact the Chair, Dr. Keith Wailoo, if planning a session proposal. Further details and examples of past submissions are available on the AAHM web site.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Operation Coffeecup and Socialized Medicine

Health care reform is today foremost in the minds of the public and politicians alike. It is, however, not a new concern, as evidenced by a new exhibit at the UNC Health Sciences Library which features the American Medical Association’s 1961 campaign, Operation Coffeecup. Led by the Woman’s Auxiliary to the American Medical Association, Operation Coffeecup was “an all-out effort to stimulate as many letters to Congress opposing socialized medicine and its menace as proposed in the King bill (HR 4222).”

Identical versions of the bill were introduced by Cecil King (D-CA) in the House of Representatives and Clinton Anderson (D-NM) in the Senate, and the bill was the latest in a series of legislative attempts to create a Medicare-type program. All were defeated until the Social Security Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 30, 1965. President Truman was a guest at the ceremony and was presented with the nation's first Medicare card after filling out his own application for enrollment (below); a video clip is available online.

Operation Coffeecup’s main tool of persuasion was a 33-1/3 rpm record entitled, “Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine,” a copy of which was recently acquired by Special Collections at the Health Sciences Library. It contains two tracks: the title piece, delivered by Reagan, and “Socialized Medicine and You”; several documents were also inserted into a pocket in the album that were intended for the use of discussion leaders, including printed transcripts of the record's two tracks. Ronald Reagan [1911-2004] was a registered Democrat when this record was produced, though he switched his affiliation to the Republican Party in 1962 and had been a strong supporter of Dwight Eisenhower in the presidential campaigns of 1952 and 1956 and Richard Nixon in 1960.

The Problem,” as described by Operation Coffeecup on the album's inside cover, was:
The legislative chips are down. In the next few months Americans will decide whether or not this nation wants socialized medicine . . . first for its older citizens, soon for all its citizens. The pivotal point in the campaign is a bill currently before Congress. The King bill (HR 4222), another Forand-type bill, is a proposal to finance medical care for all persons on Social Security over 65, regardless of financial need, through the social security tax mechanism. Proponents admit the bill is a “foot in the door” for socialized medicine. Its eventual effect—across-the-board, government medicine for everyone!
The section "How Operation Coffeecup Works" enumerates the following headings as action items:
— Listen, Look
— Put on the Coffeepot
— Invite an Audience
— Talk about What You Heard
— Spur Action
— Don’t Stop Now
“Each letter you help send off is a step along the way toward stopping socialized medicine. So join the Coffeecup Corps today!”

Related online resources include an essay, “Operation Coffeecup: Ronald Reagan’s Effort to Prevent the Enactment of Medicare,” and a YouTube recording of the text “Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine” (note that the first two paragraphs of Reagan's text are not included on this particular recording).

In addition, the American Medical Association Historical Archives contains a Medicare Campaign collection (record group MDC), which includes materials related to Operation Coffeecup and other AMA public relations efforts from 1960-1965; the collection is described as follows:
History Note: The Medicare public relations campaign constitutes the AMA's efforts in response to the proposed passage of the King-Anderson bill in Congress since 1960. The AMA staged numerous public relations efforts to amend passage of the bill before Congress. Congress passed the bill in 1965, creating Medicare.

Scope Note: Many of the highlights in the AMA's history are documented here, such as excerpts from Operation Coffee Cup featuring Ronald Reagan, the nationally televised script of AMA president Dr. Annis speaking before Madison Square Garden in 1964 and other interviews. Also included are files and newsletters related to the AMA's position on the bill and about socialized medicine.
Infomation on how to use the AMA Historical Archives is available online. Only AMA members have access to the archives, with the exception of the Historical Health Fraud Collection, which may be used by non-members on a fee-for-service basis. A descriptive summary of more than 50 collections is available for download.

The Khmer Rouge Trials and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The theme for the August 5, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association is violence and human rights. Dr. Jeffrey Sonis, a faculty member in the Departments of Social Medicine and Family Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, is the lead author on an article entitled: “Probable Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Disability in Cambodia: Associations With Perceived Justice, Desire for Revenge, and Attitudes Toward the Khmer Rouge Trials” (JAMA. 2009;302(5):527-536).

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, with support from UNAKRT (or United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials), is currently prosecuting some of the leaders of the Khmer Rouge (or Democratic Kampuchea), who perpetrated mass-violence and genocide from 1975-1979, when an estimated 1.7 million people were killed—one-fifth of the population.

Sonis and co-authors have investigated whether the Cambodian tribunal, which was empanelled in 2006, and subsequent trials have elicited symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and disability among adult Cambodians. A national survey conducted between December 2006 and August 2007 found that 14.2% of respondents over 35 suffered from probable PTSD. Although most Cambodians hoped the trials would promote justice, 87.3% in the same age group felt the trials would create painful memories. Sonis et al. state that a longitudinal study will be necessary to determine whether the Khmer Rouge trials will result in the reduction of symptoms of PTSD due to increased feelings of justice or increase symptoms due to the revival of traumatic memories in survivors. Further information on the study is available on the UNC School of Medicine’s web site; the entire study is available to subscribers on the JAMA web site.

Other resources of related interest include the Cambodian Genocide Program at Yale University, and finding aids to archival collections on the Khmer Rouge housed at Cornell University Library: Guide to the Cambodia Documentation Commission Records, 1985-1990 and Guide to the Tuol Sleng Confessions and Photographs, 1991-1993.

Note: The video above was produced by the UNC Medical Center News Office, which has a video library available online. Videos are also accessible via the School of Medicine's YouTube channel.