Moments In History: September 28th, 1928

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Matthew Beyer has begun a “Moments In History” series to raise awareness of important historical events. Each post will also have book recommendations about the moment in history, using our extensive history collection in the library.

 

September 28th, 1928

Discovery of Penicillin

On this fateful day, Scottish physician and microbiologist Alexander Fleming made a discovery that would go on to change medicine forever. While working on research and experiments with Staphylococcus bacteria in his lab, he woke the morning of the 28th of September to find one of his Petri dishes had its lid popped off and had been contaminated. While investigating the source of the contamination, he noticed a strange green ring that had appeared around the dish. This ring was a green fungus mold known as “Penicillium notatum.”

What he found so fascinating was that the bacteria surrounding the ring had not only not penetrated it but had been destroyed by the mold. Meanwhile, those farther away from it were unharmed and still growing. He would later remark:

“I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I suppose that was exactly what I did.”

It would still take many years of peer review, as well as isolating and growing the mold into a pure culture and tested on patients for its effects as a treatment of bacterial infections.

However, by 1942, penicillin was in mass production and might even have helped tip the scales in favor of the Allies during WWII, as it is thought to have saved as many as 12% to 15% of Allied soldiers’ lives from sepsis and other infections from recently amputated limbs. It would also be used to treat prominent illnesses and diseases such as pneumonia and gonorrhea.

On average, 33 million pounds of penicillin is produced around the world each year. All told, it is estimated that penicillin has saved around 200 million people worldwide and continues to do so today.  In 1999, Alexander Fleming was named among the top 100 most influential people of the 20th century in Time magazine.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to know more about Alexander Fleming and his work, I encourage you to follow the link down below for a fantastic book and on the subject.

 

Book Review: “The Terminal Man” by Michael Crichton

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If you’ve been watching popular movies for the last few years, you’ll know that the Jurassic Park franchise continues to inspire and terrify millions of viewers. But did you know that the Jurassic Park movies were based on books by Michael Crichton?

Michael Crichton was a Harvard Medical School graduate who started writing books (and later directing films) instead of practicing medicine. Due to his scientific background, many of his books include detailed accounts of medical procedures and the science behind genetics, psychological disorders, and new technology. While not as popular as the Jurassic Park series, Crichton’s 1972 novel, The Terminal Man, is still a great example of Crichton’s medical knowledge and his writing expertise.

The Terminal Man is the curious story of Harry Benson, a man who suffers from intense seizures where he attacks others and mental delusions as the result of an accident. Benson is taken to a hospital for a new “stage three” procedure, where eager Doctor Ellis will perform surgery to implant a computer in Benson. This computer is expected to calm Benson’s seizures. However, there is great concern from his psychiatrist, Doctor Ross, that Benson will not be cured and may in fact grow more violent and mentally ill than before. To complicate things even further, Benson’s specific delusions are that computers and technology are actively trying to take over mankind- yet he agrees to having a computer placed in his body.

The “stage three” procedure is described in detail, but Crichton’s writing makes it easy to read and understand even if you’re not a Harvard Medical School student. Crichton also writes from the the third person omniscient point of view, so you can catch a glimpse of several characters’ motivations and worries throughout. It’s a fast-paced read, and the sense of dread surrounding Benson’s odd situation will keep you turning each page until the end. What will happen to Benson? Could his violence have an agenda? What are the philosophical implications of making a computer’s terminal out of a man? Will the new technology help or hurt others?

If you’re interested in this science fiction thriller, you can check it out from the library. View our catalog to see if it’s available!

Spotlight on PubMed

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A part of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, PubMed “comprises more than 28 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.” Essentially, PubMed is a medical database with citations, clinical trials, clinical queries, and more. Entries from MEDLINE and OLDMEDLINE are also available through PubMed.

 

PubMed FAQ:

Who uses PubMed?

Biology majors, nursing majors, Pharmacy students, professors, and researchers from around the world.

 

Does PubMed have tutorials?

Yes, their tutorials help you in searching through PubMed and finding the resources that you need.

 

Can I download a full article from PubMed?

No, PubMed generally just houses citations and abstracts. However, sometimes an abstract will provide a link to its full article, housed in a different database.

 

Can I access PubMed on my phone- is it mobile friendly?

Yes, PubMed Mobile was made to make PubMed easily accessible.

Top 5 Biology Databases

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While biology majors spend a lot of time “in the field,” they also clock hours in the lab and on the internet for extensive research. If you’re looking for articles on anything from butterfly migration patterns to conservation efforts, these databases (all provided by the library) can help you!

ScienceDirect

ScienceDirect holds over 9.5 million articles and chapters on various subjects. This database divides up the different kinds of sciences into categories, making it easier for you to search topics within a broader subject. Popular articles from each category are listed as well- for example, the article “Aluminum in brain tissue in autism” is currently the most popular article under the “Life Sciences” umbrella.

 

BioMed Central

Boasting access to many different scientific journals, BioMed Central provides a wide range of sources. In particular, you will find scores of research on genomes here. Since BioMed Central is open access, its articles are “permanently accessible online immediately upon publication, without subscription charges or registration barriers.”

 

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Environmental Studies and Policy Collection (Gale)

This collection gets to the heart of the business and political side of biology. The library website explains more about Environmental Studies and Policy Collection:

Providing robust coverage of the field of environmental issues and policy, this collection, which includes magazines and academic journals, provides instant access to the multiple viewpoints of this volatile field of study, including perspectives from the scientific community, governmental policy makers, as well as corporate interests.

 

General Science Collection (Gale)

Current top searches for the General Science Collection include: Alternative Energy, Cancer, Genetically Modified Organisms, Global Warming, and NASA. For the most up-to-date research and trending topics in science, check out the General Science Collection.

 

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PubMed

While a more medically-focused database, PubMed can be helpful for pre-med biology students. According to its website, “PubMed comprises more than 28 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.”

 

View the Biology Research Guide for more help.

Spotlight On The NLM History of Medicine

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The United States National Library of Medicine is the largest medical library in the world. According to its website:

NLM maintains and makes available a vast print collection and produces electronic information resources on a wide range of topics that are searched billions of times each year by millions of people around the globe. It also supports and conducts research, development, and training in biomedical informatics and health information technology. In addition, the Library coordinates a 6,500-member National Network of Libraries of Medicine that promotes and provides access to health information in communities across the United States.

The NLM provides access to public domain photos of early medical sketches, snapshots, and diagrams. Some of them are graphic, while others are placid or even humorous. Through the NLM’s  Images of the History of Medicine Index, you can view these photos and learn more about prior medical practices. Thankfully, this is a free resource that you can access online via NLM Digital Collections.

Below are just a few of the fascinating public domain images that you can view and download from the NLM History of Medicine:

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To see more images from the NLM, click here.

Top 5 Nursing Databases

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Nursing students not only learn from clinicals and hospital rotations- sometimes they have to research, too. If you’re a nursing major in need of a peer-reviewed article or health journal, the library has plenty of resources that will help. Listed below are 5 of the best nursing and health databases that the library provides.

 

1. Health Reference Center Academic (Gale)

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This database contains 25,951,793 articles. That’s a lot! Health Reference Center Academic has a “Topic Finder” option that helps students locate new topics or keywords and discover new connections found in the top results. It’s easy to use and a great place to start looking for resources.

 

2. CINAHL with Full Text (EBSCO)

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CINAHL stands for the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and it’s one of the largest nursing databases around. This resource provides full text for hundreds of nursing and allied health journals indexed in the CINAHL database. CINAHL databases claim to be “the most widely-used and respected research tools for nurses, students and allied health professionals around the globe.”

 

3. MEDLINE (EBSCO)

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MEDLINE is a great place to look for international research in medicine. Information is indexed from approximately 3,900 journals published world-wide.

 

4. UpToDate

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UpToDate is a clinical decision support resource and is “trusted at the point of care by clinicians worldwide.” Topics covered include anesthesiology, cardiovascular medicine, dermatology, family medicine, and more.

 

5. ScienceDirect

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Last but not least, ScienceDirect provides information on life sciences, health sciences, and related studies. Here you can not only search for journals, but also books and open access content.

*Click here to access our nursing-specific databases.