Ga-ga now and then

DAB Matula Thoughts June 7, 2019

Ga-ga then and now

2172 words

[Above: Nesbit reception at 2019 AUA Annual Meeting in Chicago. Ice sculpture.]

 

One.             

Senior medical students are getting ready this month for the next big stage in their lives and careers, just as I did in June of 1971 heading west from Buffalo to Los Angeles, to start nine years of training at UCLA. I don’t recall much of the drive along the evolving interstate highway system, a vision of President Eisenhower only 20 years earlier, but the exhilaration of beginning something totally new with surgical residency under William P. Longmire certainly dominated my thoughts on the road. The intellectual and conjoined physical capabilities of surgery as a profession excited me. The first day of internship, in line to check in, I met fellow intern Doug McConnell and quickly befriended John Cook, Erick Albert, Ed Pritchett, Ron Busuttil, Arnie Brody, John Kaswick, Dave Confer and the rest of our 18 at the bottom of the UCLA training pyramid. Over the five-year process, we learned the knowledge base, skills, and professionalism of surgery through experience, teaching, study, and role models. In the blink of an eye 1971 has become 2019 and, suddenly I’m near the end of my career.

Reading Arrowsmith and the recent story of the Theranos debacle in John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, I saw those protagonists wanting to change the world. My hopes in 1971 were not so grand, I just wanted to find my own relevance and hoped to become good in my career. Most people similarly want to make their mark in one way or another, through job, family, art, or community. Some, however, actually intend to change the larger world, although their idea of “change” may be someone else’s deformation.

Last month a large cohort of our University of Michigan urology residents, faculty, nurses, PAs, and staff met in Chicago at the annual AUA national meeting to learn, teach, exchange ideas, network, enjoy reunion, and circulate word of our new chair Ganesh Palapattu. The Michigan brand was strong with hundreds of presentations from our faculty, residents, and alumni. The MUSIC and Nesbit Alumni sessions were great gathering points. [Below: UM podium events with alumni Cheryl Lee, Jens Sønksen, Barry Kogan, and Julian Wan.]

Cheryl has been back in Ann Arbor this week as visiting professor.

A group of our residents and one incipient PGY1 were ga-ga at the AUA Museum booth. [Below in front: Juan Andino, Catherine Nam; back row: Adam Cole, Scott Hawken, Rita Jen, Ella Doerge, senior faculty member, Colton Walker, Matt Lee, Kyle Johnson, Udit Singhal.]

 

Two.

Surgery, the word, derives from Greek, kheirourgos, for working by hand and the term moved through Latin, Old French, and Anglo-French to become surgien in the 13th century. The epicenter of that world was the doctor/patient duality, based on an essential transaction as old as humanity with exchange of information, discovery of needs, and provision of remedies and skills. The knowledge base and tools are far better since Hippocratic times, but the professional ideals are much the same. It seemed pretty awesome to my 21-year-old self that I might one day be able to fix things with my hands like Drs. Longmire and Rick Fonkalsrud. History mattered to our UCLA professors who insisted that trainees know the back stories of each disorder and treatment.

New interns arriving next month, called PGY1s for their postgraduate year status, may have parallel thoughts to those of mine 48 years ago as they start their journeys. Pyramidal training models no longer exist – PGY1s can reasonably expect to complete their programs. Their experiences will be replete with contemporary expectations, notably patient safety, value propositions, clinical outcome assessments, co-morbidities, social determinants of disease, personal well-being, attention to patient experience, and teamwork with diversity, equity, and inclusion. Acronyms have proliferated, tools are more powerful, and regulation grows more burdensome. Nevertheless, essential transactions remain at the center of health care with needs of patients addressed by the knowledge, skills, and kindness of healthcare providers, one patient and one provider at a time.

While taking pride in the labels doctor, physician, surgeon, nurse, and physician’s assistant we realize now that teams of providers with many types of expertise congregate around each single patient, either immediately physically as “bedside teams” (in clinics as well), sequentially, or virtually (with office staff, coders, laboratories, or electronically). Teams offer exquisitely specialized expertise and “wisdom of crowds,” although patients often find no single person in charge of their care.

 

Three.

Patient safety was a given when I was a resident. It was wrapped up in regular Morbidity and Mortality conferences without explicit use of that phrase, patient safety. Around that time a young graduate student in sociology, Charles Bosk, embedded himself in an academic surgical team for 18 months to discover how surgery was learned, practiced, and lived at an unnamed “Pacific Hospital.” The result was his book in 1979, Forgive and Remember: Managing Medical Failure. Bob Bartlett, my friend and colleague in the Surgery Department, introduced me to it a few years later. A second edition in 2003 was reviewed by Williamson. [Williamson R. J Royal Soc Med. 97(3):147-148, 2004.]

Patient safety has grown since my internship from an obvious but unarticulated expectation to a distinct field of study modeled after other industries, notably aviation. Health care has learned much from other professions such as the concepts of safety culture, standardization of procedures, checklists, and so forth, although healthcare is more multidimensional and nuanced than those other worlds. Bosk recently reflected on the health care exceptionality in a Lancet article, “Blind spots in the science of safety,” written with Kirstine Pedersen, concluding:

“There is a science of safety to reduce preventable adverse outcomes. But health care also has an irreducibly relational, experiential, and normative element that remains opaque to safety science. The contribution of a kind and reassuring word; a well delivered and appropriately timed disclosure of a bad diagnosis; or an experience-based evaluation of a small but important change in a patient’s condition – all are difficult, if not impossible to capture in a performance metric. Accomplishing safety and avoiding harm depend on discretion, effective teamwork, and local knowledge of how things work in specific clinical settings. Finally, the successful practice of a science of safety presupposes in theory what is most difficult to achieve in practice: a stable functioning team capable of wisely adapting general guidelines to specific cases.” [Bosk CL, Pedersen KZ, “Blind spots in the science of safety.” The Lancet 393:978-979, 2019.]

 

Four.

The Michigan Urology Centennial is nearly here and the process of writing our departmental history has elicited many names and stories. Bookends demarcating any era may be discretionary choices and our starting point could easily be debated. Perhaps the first “urologic” procedure of Moses Gunn initiated this specialty at Michigan in the 1850s, or the first faculty appointments with the term lecturer on genitourinary surgery, held by Cyrenus Darling (1902) or clinical professor of genitourinary surgery by Ira Dean Loree (1907) might qualify. Unquestionably, though, the arrival of Hugh Cabot in the autumn of 1919 brought modern urology with its academic components to the University of Michigan. Cabot was the first to use the 20thcentury terminology, urology, at UM and he was Michigan’s celebrity in the field. He literally brought Modern Urology to Ann Arbor, as that was the name of his two-volume state-of-the art textbook of 1918, repeated in a second edition in 1924. Cabot probably didn’t anticipate becoming Medical School dean when he left Boston two years earlier, but his advancement was hardly accidental. A number of other prominent faculty members were well-positioned to replace Dean Victor Vaughan, but Cabot played his political cards well and won the job.

Frederick George Novy (1864-1957) was the strongest competitor. Born and raised in Chicago, Novy obtained a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Michigan in 1886. His master’s thesis was “Cocaine and its derivatives” in 1887. Teaching bacteriology as an instructor, his Ph.D. thesis in 1890 was “The toxic products of the bacillus of hog cholera.” After an M.D. in 1891 he followed the footsteps of his teacher Victor Vaughan as assistant professor of hygiene and physiological chemistry. Visiting key European centers in 1894 and 1897, Novy brought state-of-the-art bacteriology to Ann Arbor, rising to full professor in 1904 and first chair of the Department of Bacteriology. His studies of trypanosomes and spirochetes, laboratory culture techniques, anaerobic organisms, and the tubercle bacillus were widely respected. Our colleague Powel Kazanjian wrote a first-rate book on Novy.

 

Five.

Paul de Kruif (1890-1971), one of Novy’s students, bears particular mention. [Above: de Kruif, courtesy Bentley Library.]  de Kruif came from Zeeland, Michigan, to Ann Arbor for a bachelor’s degree in 1912 and then a Ph.D. in 1916. He joined the U.S. Mexican Expedition (“the Pancho Villa Expedition”) against Mexican revolutionary paramilitary forces in 1916 and 1917, then saw service in France with the Sanitary Corps, investigating the gas gangrene prevalent in the trenches of WWI. de Kruif returned to Michigan as assistant professor in 1919 working in Novy’s laboratory, publishing a paper on streptococci and complement activation.

Novy helped de Kruif secure a prestigious position at the Rockefeller Institute in 1920, to study mechanisms of respiratory infection. While there de Kruif wrote an anonymous chapter on modern medicine for Harold Sterns’s Civilization in 1922. The 34 chapters were mainly written by prominent authors, including H.L. Mencken, Ring Larder, and Lewis Mumford, so how de Kruif, a young bacteriologist (and non-physician), came to be included in this compilation is a mystery. de Kruif’s 14-page chapter, however, caused the biggest stir, skewering contemporary medical practice and doctors for “a mélange of religious ritual, more or less accurate folk-lore, and commercial cunning.” de Kruif viewed medical practice as unscientific “medical Ga-Ga-ism,” but his article was sophomoric at best.

Once de Kruif was revealed as author the Rockefeller Institute fired him in September, 1922. The newly unemployed bacteriologist came in contact with a newly prominent author, Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951), praised for Main Street (1920) and Babbitt (1922). Lewis was ready for his next novel and two friends, Morris Fishbein and H.L. Mencken, persuaded him to focus on medical research. Lewis, son and grandson of physicians, knew little of medical research, so Fishbein, editor of JAMA, connected Lewis to de Kruif. A bond and collaboration ensued for Arrowsmith (1925) in which a central character, Max Gottlieb, was modelled around Novy. Lewis gave de Kruif 25% of the royalties for the collaboration, but held back on sharing authorship, claiming that it might hurt sales. At the time de Kruif thought his share generous, but later became somewhat embittered as book sales soared with Lewis as sole author. [Henig RM. The life and legacy of Paul de Kruif. Alicia Patterson Foundation.]

Arrowsmith was selected for the 1926 Pulitzer Prize, but Lewis refused the $1,000 award, explaining his refusal in a letter to the Pulitzer Committee:

“… I invite other writers to consider the fact that by accepting the prizes and approval of these vague institutions we are admitting their authority, publicly confirming them as the final judges of literary excellence, and I inquire whether any prize is worth that subservience.”

Four years later, however, Lewis accepted the $46,350 Nobel Prize. His Nobel lecture was “The American Fear of Literature.”

Leaving lab behind, de Kruif became a full-time science writer, one of the first in that new genre of journalism. His Microbe Hunters, published in 1926, became a classic and inspired me when I read it as an early teenager, unaware of the controversies around it. [Chernin E. “Paul de Kruif’s Microbe Hunters and an outraged Ronald Ross.” Rev Infec Dis. 10(3):661-667, 1988.] Arrowsmith was re-published in 2001 by Classics of Medicine Library and Michigan’s Howard Markel provided the introduction. [Markel H. “Prescribing Arrowsmith.”]

 

Ga-ga notes

de Kruif’s adjective ga ga for American medicine in the 1920s intended to mean foolish, infatuated, or wildly enthusiastic. It can also denote someone no longer in possession of full mental faculties or a dotard. (Dotard recently came into play in the peculiar rhetoric of the North Korean and American leaders.) The ga ga origin may be from early 20thcentury French for a senile person based on gâteux, variant of gâteur and hospital slang for “bed-wetter.” Gateau, of course, is also French for “cake” and gateux is the plural. de Kruif himself was negatively ga-ga with his criticism of medical specialism. Lady Gaga brings the term to a new level of consciousness and a new generation.

The past week was big on three continents for those who go ga-ga over historic anniversaries. Two hundred years ago, on 31 May 1819, Walt Whitman was born on Long Island. His Leaves of Grass, among much else, had the intriguing phrase “I am large, I contain multitudes,” a prescient reminder of our cellular basis, microbiome, or the plethora of information that leads to TMI (“too much information”) or burnout. Seventy-five years ago, on 4 June 1944, Operation Overlord at Normandy, France, initiated the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. Thirty years ago, on 4 June 1989, protests in a large city square between the Forbidden City and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong turned violent and are now referred to as the June Fourth Incident in the People’s Republic of China.

 

David A. Bloom

University of Michigan, Department of Urology, Ann Arbor

May 3, 2019. Sensations

Matula Thoughts  May 3, 2019

Sensations

 

2180 words: twenty minutes to read, five to skim, or seconds to delete if TMI.

 

Appreciation. Leonardo da Vinci reverberates strongly, even five hundred years after his death on 2 May 1519. The Lancet commemorated yesterday’s anniversary with a cover picture of that great polymath who encompassed astonishing ideas, insights, and talents, leaving for posterity a multitude of works that amaze and delight. Anatomy, physiology, engineering, and visual art are just a few of the intellectual arenas his senses played with and his hands produced. Walt Whitman later wrote: we “contain multitudes…,” and you can fill in the words of what multitudes in particular might follow, such as atoms, cells, thoughts, physical creations, emotions, or other possibilities. da Vinci exemplified that human potential better than most of us, trying to make sense of the world.

 

One.             

Azalias 2019

Spring hits our senses. We can’t easily describe in words the perfumes of flowers or the pleasant rich scent of mulch, but we surely know them. Odors are important sensory inputs, although we don’t usually notice them much as they are less important for us than to most other creatures.  [Above: azaleas, spring 2019.]

Dogs, for example, discern far more olfactory notes than we do and that is probably a good thing, since dogs sequester significant cerebral space and energy for distinctions of specific urine scents or fecal aromas to understand who is in the neighborhood, skills that have been essential to millennia of canine culture, while humans have found other ways to evaluate their fellows and territories. [Below: Molly’s spring inspection.]

Molly

We surely would be confused by having to track of hundreds of scent variations. In fact, even a small amount of effluent odor from one of our neighbors is generally regarded as too much information. [Below: mulch delivery at Smithsonian Institution, Spring 2019.]

Mulch

Smell used to be important in medical diagnosis. Uroscopy relied on smell, color, sediment, feel, and taste of urine for clues to disease and prognosis. Historically, urine was inspected by all five senses (including the taste of urine and the sound of its stream), but now patients are told to leave a sample in the privacy of a bathroom for a medical assistant to label and send to a laboratory. Doctors rarely come close to the stuff. Even so, for any good diagnostician, a necrotic wound, uremic breath, fecal odor, or hint of tobacco, are valuable bits of information not just for a specific disease, but also relevant to the life and comorbidities of a patient. These and other points of data add to the medical gaze that transcends visual clues and once inspired the meme of clever detectives. That gaze has now been replaced by the digital gaze of checklists, smart phrases, and drop-down menus.

RueMorgueManuscript

Last month we commented on the first of the medical detectives in The Murders in the Rue Morgue, wherein Edgar Allen Poe in 1842 described how diagnostic senses could be marshaled in a process he called ratiocination to figure out crimes. The tale reflected on the odor of urine and double entendre of a name when detective Dupin explained to the narrator (Poe) how he seemed to read his mind, by making deductions from facial expressions:

“Perdidit antiquum litera sonum.

I had told you that this was in reference to Orion, formerly written Urion; and, from certain pungencies connected with this explanation, I was aware that you could not have forgotten it.”

The Latin phrase intended the loss or attrition of an old or previous meaning or sound of the word or its homonym. Orion referred to the celestial constellation (Poe called it a nebular cosmogony) and its similarity to urine became a play on words that Dupin noticed had popped into the narrator’s mind as he looked up at the constellation and smiled when the wordplay and associations came to mind. [Above: 1895 facsimile of Poe’s original manuscript for “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Susan Jaffe Tane collection at Cornell University. Public domain. Wikipedia.]

 

Two.

Five classic senses taught in my childhood – smell, sight, taste, hearing, and touch – have been updated to seven for my grandchildren with the addition of vestibular sense and proprioception. Technology extends the senses further, outsourcing them and merging their inputs to provide unprecedented amounts of information of the world around us and within us. Microscopy and telescopy carry sight far beyond the unaided eye, while modern imaging with CT scans, MRI, and radioisotope labeling visualize our own living interior bodies. Sound, too, allows inspection of our interiors due to the discovery of Pierre Curie and his brother in 1880 of the piezo-electric principle in crystals that underlies ultrasonography. Extending the seven “basic” senses through technology, we see the world in new ways, although at the cost of diminished acuity of our original senses.

Today’s versions of the medical gaze and the detective’s ratiocination, are powerful: the sum-total of sensory inputs (enhanced by technology) and mental heuristics of scientific thinking.  Intellect integrates the physical senses. This larger sense, the sense of making sense of everything, is the wisdom, judgment, and mental capacity that creates meaning from immediate or recalled sensory input. This may be the most important and defining human sense, but even that is challenged by impending extension or replacement with so-called artificial intelligence.

 

Three.

Ghost_In_The_Machine_cover 

Incidental or relevant? Recently, I was asked to comment on a paper regarding incidental findings of renal cysts in children and that got me thinking how far ultrasonography has come in my career. Genitourinary imaging by ultrasonography came of age as a practical urologic tool in the 1980’s. I recall those early days when, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, we experimented with crude B-mode ultrasonography to interrogate testes for tumors or viability. Coincidentally, it was around that time, 1981 to be specific, when Gordon Sumner wrote the lyrics to a song called Too much information (TMI):

“Too much information running through my brain,

Too much information driving me insane…”

The world is even more replete with information since Sting and The Police recorded that song in their album Ghost in the Machine. Yet, one might argue that TMI is a sophomoric complaint, as if the infinite information in the cosmos should be curated for our personal capacity of the moment. The actual problem is not too much information, but too little human capacity for processing and our technologies have made this situation worse.

Kandel

Perhaps this is the essence of abstract art, that Eric Kandel expressed in Reductionism in Art and Brain Science, explaining that functional MRI shows human brains process representational art differently and in different cerebral pathways than processing abstract art (Columbia Press, 2016).  Representational art gives viewers very specific images that relate to things immediately understandable. (Below: American Gothic by Grant Wood (1930), courtesy Art Institute of Chicago.)

 

“Abstract art” seems to contain less information (perhaps less craft – or even no craft, at first glance) than representational works. Kandel finds that abstractions can in fact contain far more, calling on you to search everything you know to understand the piece. Abstract artworks invite you to inspect the world to discover their meaning, although a particular artist may not necessarily know or understand the world any better than you. The artist, however, creates a door for you to imagine the world differently than you did a moment before viewing the work. Abstract images may open up, in an informational sense, far more than a given representational scene or a moment you will readily comprehend. Abstraction is a window into far larger and stranger worlds of information, associations, and imaginations. (Below: Composition No. 10. 1939-1942, (Piet Mondrian. Private Collection. Wikipedia.)

Piet_Mondriaan,_1939-1942_-_Composition_10

edu-meet-me-volunteers

[Above: UM Silver Club members attend Meet Me at UMMA program at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Image courtesy of UM Silver Club. The untitled painting is by Mark Bradford, 2005.]

 

Four.

The Shannon number, named for UM graduate Claude Shannon (1916-2001), represents a lower bound of the game-tree complexity of chess, 10120.  This is an enormous number, unimaginably large, given that the number of atoms in the observable universe is estimated at 1080. The point here is that human imagination (and in this instance, for only one human game), in a measurable sense, is far larger than the real world. Walt Whitman (1819-1892) may not have known the celestial math, but he wasn’t exaggerating when he wrote Song of Myself.

“Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

[Whitman W. Song of Myself. Section 51, 1892 version.]

Whitman imagined that he and each of us is unimaginably large, in imagination. This is sensory overload at its most. It is ironically, unimaginable, far beyond TMI.

Whether an incidentaloma discovered by ultrasonography, computer-assisted tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging, is important to the well-being of a person or is too much information (TMI) is one of the dilemmas of modern medicine. The quality and precision of ultrasound interrogation, reveal increasingly tiny anatomic details, anomalies, and imperfections that may cause great anxiety for patients, regularly driving parents of children with simple renal cysts to near-insanity with unnecessary worry. While technology seemed to promise humans better control of their lives, it may be just the opposite, whereby technology becomes the ruling agent. [Below: the promise of technology, Life Magazine, September 10, 1965.]

life_c2

 

Five.

An article and a book expand these considerations of gaze, ratiocination, and information. Roger Kneebone, in The Lancet, offered perspectives on “Looking and Seeing,” comparing a physician’s observational skills to those of an experienced entomologist, Erica McAlister at the Natural History Museum in London. The article begins with these resonating sentences, quoted with his permission:

“Medicine depends upon observation. Yet we are changing the way we look and that alters what we see. As a medical student, I was schooled according to a rigid mantra. Inspection, palpation, percussion, auscultation – always in that order … The aim, I think, was to ensure that we directed our attention to the person in front of us, that we didn’t jump to conclusions before assembling all the information we needed. That fell by the wayside as we turned into junior doctors. Nobody seemed interested in what we had seen or how we described it. Instead, it was all about blood tests, x-rays, scans – all about results.” [Kneebone R. “Looking and seeing.” The Lancet. 393:1091, 2019.]

Kneebone says it beautifully. The last word in his phrase could easily be data as well as results. The results becomes a proxy for the patient. The physicians of the next generation have learned excellent key-board skills, data collection, acronyms du jour, and navigation of electronic health records with drop-down menus, check-lists, and cut-and-paste artistry. The artful skills taught to me and Kneebone – inspection, palpation, percussion, and auscultation – seem rendered obsolete by data. One worries if the talents to navigate technology and its data come at the expense of the medical gaze, the medical sniff, and the ratiocination Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle brought forth in their detectives. The model of the astute clinician is giving way to Watson, not Conan Doyle’s Watson, but IBM’s Watson.

Information or data, if you prefer, is a false deity. We may use data but should not worship it. Too many leaders say “show me the data,” believing that data will perfectly direct essential actions. Data should inform key decisions, of course, but data needs human wisdom for good decisions – using, tweaking, discarding, or reformulating data for human needs, not for the self-serving “needs” of algorithms. Self-learning algorithms can accomplish much, but can never replace human wisdom.

The book of relevance is Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again, by Eric Topol, reviewed by Indra Joshi in The Lancet and I look forward to seeing if it convinces me in its promise. [Joshi I. “Waiting for Deep Medicine.” The Lancet. 393:1193-1194, 2019.]  The concern with “artificial intelligence” is its easy confusion with human wisdom, the wisdom of crowds that tends to bend toward truth and overarching human values. Self-learning algorithms that constitute AI are ultimately constructed by individuals with their own values, biases, and agendas. Furthermore, they are susceptible to intrusion and perversion. Finlayson et al warned of this recently: Adversarial attacks on medical machine learning, emerging vulnerabilities demand new conversations. [Finlayson SG, et al. Science. 363:1287–1289, 2019.]

 

Short story.

Truth is often stranger than fiction. Poe’s story in 1841 revealed the perpetrator of The Murders in the Rue Morgue was an orangutan smuggled to Paris by a sailor. The actual murders were unintentional, the escaped animal was frightened and responding as its genes, millions of years of environmental selection, prescribed. Most readers probably found that part of the story a bit outrageous, it didn’t quite make sense that a sailor could or would smuggle such an animal. But truth is often as strange or stranger than fiction: a recent report from the Associated Press of Russian tourist Andrei Zhestkov, discovered on the Indonesian resort island of Bali trying to smuggle a 2-year old drugged orangutan in a rattan basket to Russia on March 22. The smuggler also had seven live lizards in a suitcase. [Mike Ives. New York Times, March 25, 2019.]

Orangutan

 

Thanks for reading Matula Thoughts.

David A. Bloom

University of Michigan, Department of Urology, Ann Arbor

Spring

Matula Thoughts April 5, 2019

Calendar1

Spring considerations

20 minutes to read, two minutes to scan, one second to delete.

2341 words

Note of Passage

Mark C. McQuiggan, University of Michigan triple graduate, passed away last month leaving his beloved wife Carolyn (Brunk). Mark was the son of the late Dr. Mark R. McQuiggan and Dr. Catherine (Corbeille) McQuiggan, internists who had trained at the Mayo Clinic and worked together in an office in Detroit’s Fisher Building. Mark C. was born on May 15, 1933 and was 85 years old at the time of his death. He was thoroughly a Michigan Man with a BS from LS&A in 1954, an MD in 1958, and urology residency under Reed Nesbit, completed in 1964. Mark’s co-residents were Karl Schroeder and Dick Bourne, and other particular friends from residency were Clair and Clarice Cox and Dick and Jane Dorr.  Mark practiced urology with excellence and devotion in Southfield, Michigan, on the staff of North Detroit General Hospital and Ascension Providence Hospital. Mark and Carolyn were lovely and loyal presences at our yearly Nesbit Society Alumni Reunions. (Below: Mark in October, 2010, at the Nesbit Scientific Session.) Mark loved the University of Michigan, and Michigan Urology, along with Michigan athletics. Michigan Urology will miss Mark, who seemed to always have a smile and was a wonderful link to Michigan Urology’s past.

Urology at Michigan undergoes its own passage, this being the transition to Ganesh Palapattu as chair, who is already bringing exciting and substantive change to the department just around the fortuitous time of the Michigan Urology Centennial. He is continuing the weekly Urology What’s New aimed at departmental specifics along with this monthly set of Matula Thoughts on the first Fridays, and simultaneously available on the web site matulathoughts.org.

 

One. 

April brings spring, so welcome after a rough winter’s polar vortices reached down to our geography and innermost bodily cores. Flowering dogwoods, photographed last year (above), will return soon and that’s much of the attraction of photography – preservation of meaningful moments with fidelity to the momentary truth. We want to hold on to things we value as best we can and photography allows us to keep them, in a way, by replication. Words can also replicate those moments and truths with fidelity and beauty.

Last spring this column referred to Dr. William Carlos Williams and his book, Spring and All, a title mysterious in its promise. [Above: Williams and Ezra Pound at their last meeting, photographed by Richard Avedon in July 1958, Wikipedia.] The central piece in Williams’ collection, On the Road to the Contagious Hospital, speaks to facilities that that have faded away, the leprosaria, tuberculosis sanitaria, and other such places. New diseases and antibiotic-resistant resurgence of the old ones may resurrect those institutions. Leprosy, by the way, is not a disease of the past. The Lancet recently had a photoessay “Picturing health new face of leprosy.” The authors noted: “… leprosy impairs and society disables.”  [Kumar A, Lambert S, Lockwood DNJ. The Lancet, 393:629-638, 2019.]

The University of Michigan once had its own contagious hospital after the citizens in Ann Arbor in 1914 voted for a bond issue of $25,000 for an isolation hospital to be maintained by the university. [Below: UM Contagious Disease Hospital, courtesy Bentley Library.] It was placed on a ridge behind the Catherine Street Hospital and looked over the Huron River. Horace Davenport’s book (Not Just Any Medical School, 1999) tells how in the first year the 24-bed hospital housed patients with chicken pox, diphtheria, necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (Vincent’s angina), pneumonia, tuberculosis (TB), and whooping cough. [Davenport HW. Not Just Any Medical School. University of Michigan Press. 1999.]

 

Two.

Photography, as a neologism meaning drawing by light, may have had a number of separate origins between 1834 and 1839. Previous methods to capture images by means of cameras obscura or shadow images on silver nitrate-treated papers were novelties, but didn’t scale up in terms of utility, until Louis Daguerre announced his sensational process on January 7, 1839. The rest is the history of the Kodak moment, motion pictures, Polaroids, and now the cell phone camera with its albums of thousands of pictures and videos.

Anesthesia, in contrast to photography, had a specific origin in time, place, and originator. Anesthesia was the neologism of Oliver Wendell Holmes in Boston, 1846. Just as photography was coming of age, medical practitioners were starting to bring science and new technology to their art. Large metropolitan hospitals, notably the Napoleonic legacies in France, afforded large numbers of patients that inquisitive physicians studied and compared. Evolving tools of measurement and investigation allowed new clinical skills and a slowly growing sense of hygiene would bring a greater level of safety to medical care.

Professor Charles-Alexandre Louis (1787-1872) in Paris at the Pitié-Salpêtrière was among the best of these physicians and his comparison of patients with pulmonary TB who were treated with leeches against those untreated patients was one of the earliest clinical trials. Young people from around the world came to Paris for weeks, months, or years to watch Louis at work. He stressed the idea of critical clinical observation (including the medical gaze), measurement, and analysis to improve understanding of disease and therapy, forming a Society of Clinical Observation that many young American trainees joined.

The idea of clinical material as the milieu for medical education and the improvement of health care through careful observation, inquiry, and research, received as great a boost from Louis as anyone. The medical gaze went beyond a quick visual glance. Deep inspection by an experienced physician was something new, a gaze that would discover clues to a diagnosis, understanding of co-morbidities, and other relevant facts to the case, the story, and the truth of a clinical situation.

The medical gaze, like the photograph, was novel and they complemented each other. Photography became a teaching and documentary tool. The informed gaze discovered a condition, an attitude, or a moment that the photograph could replicate and preserve. The medical gaze also inspired a new genre in literature – bringing the idea of astute medical discovery by observation, listening, and reasoning to crime solving.

One wonders if the medical gaze, once a desirable clinical skill, has now been eliminated by modern imaging tests, laboratory studies, biomarkers, and check lists? This begs the question whether or not tomorrow’s masters of those technologies and processes will quickly succumb to nonhuman purveyors of “artificial intelligence”?

 

Three.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Edgar Allen Poe’s famous short story in 1841, initiated a new genre of crime literature and the clever reasoning, Poe called “ratiocination,” necessary to solve crimes. [Poe 1809-1849, above] Curiously, Poe’s story included a brief speculation on uroscopic clues, specifically the odor of urine.

This scientific crime solver genre continues to gather cultural momentum. The picture above, made in the last year of Poe’s life, is the “Annie” daguerreotype, the best known of the eight known Poe daguerreotypes and named for Mrs. Annie Richmond of Lowell, Massachusetts who commissioned and owned the picture. Poe was just a little ahead of his time with ratiocination, his take on the medical gaze, where careful observation and trained reasoning could discover the truth of a situation. Over the next decades up to the fin de siècle a scientific corpus of knowledge, bringing new technology, would expand the medical gaze into a powerful capacity to produce data and evidence for both health care and criminal investigation.

Future detective author Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was barely ten years old when Preston B. Rose started teaching Ann Arbor medical students urinalysis and scientific methods of forensic investigation in the Chemical Laboratory just behind the University of Michigan Medical School. Only 17 years later, as a 27-year old ophthalmologist with a struggling practice, Conan Doyle created a powerful blend of ratiocination and scientific analysis in the intellectual superhero, Sherlock Holmes. The detective was modeled on a real-life medical role-model of Doyle when he was a medical student and the name Doyle selected coincided with the real-life medical superhero Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of the most prominent Americans Abroad, who studied with Louis in Paris, as explained in David McCullough’s book. After return to Boston, Holmes presented one of the first convincing hypotheses for the germ theory to explain puerperal fever. [Below: Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle by English photographer Herbert Rose Barraud. Carbon print on card mount. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.]

Doyle SS

 

Four.

Holmes embraced the new technology of photography, writing essays about it, making his own pictures, inventing a stereoscopic camera, and studying human ambulation with it. In the June issue of The Atlantic Magazine in 1859 Holmes commented on the improbability of the technology of capturing an actual moment in time totally on a single surface:

“This is just what the Daguerreotype has done. It has fixed the most fleeting of our illusions, that which the apostle and the philosopher and the poet have alike used as the type of instability and unreality. The photograph has completed the triumph, by making a sheet of paper reflect images like a mirror and hold them as a picture.”

It is a universal truth that pictures tell stories more immediately than words, and we humans have been practicing this art since cave-dwelling days, inspired by beauty in the natural world, fantasies, or unnatural horrors. Photography offers realistic images of faces, scenes, or situations, and complements the older visual arts of drawing or painting.

Earlier, in the inaugural Atlantic Monthly (above) Holmes had written:

“The next European war will send us stereographs of battles. It is asserted that a bursting shell can be photographed… We are looking into stereoscopes as pretty toys, and wondering over the photograph as a charming novelty; but before another generation has passed away, it will be recognized that a new epoch in the history of human progress dates from the time when He who

Never but in uncreated light

Dwelt from eternity –

Took a pencil of fire from the hand of the ‘angel standing in the sun,’ and placed it in the hands of a mortal.”

[“The stereoscope and the stereograph,” Atlantic Monthly, November, 1857.]

 

Five.

Guernica. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) while living in Paris was commissioned by the Spanish Republican Government to make a work in response to the destruction of Guernica. This  Basque town in northern Spain was bombed for two hours by Nazi Germany and Italian warplanes in their support of Spanish nationalists on 26 April 1937. [Above: Picasso working on the mural. Wikipedia.] The town was at a major crossroad 10 kilometers from the front lines between the Republican retreat and Nationalist advance to Bilbao. The target was a minor factory for war materials outside of town. The bombers missed the factory, but destroyed the town.

Picasso completed the large oil painting on canvas in June, 1937, after 35 days of work. The specific disputes of the Republicans and Nationalists, and the justifications of their supporters and suppliers are nowhere evident in the mural, only the grotesque mangled forms and anguished expressions of the victims. Guernica may be Picasso’s greatest work and one of mankind’s iconic images of the horror of war. The event itself was miniscule in the grand scale of 20th century conflict, but Picasso made it a transcendent moment for humanity.

No single painting, photograph, or narrative can capture the full and terrible story of Guernica, although together they give a fuller sense of the horror than any one work alone. [Above: Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain. ©Picasso. Below: ruined Guernica. German Federal Archives.]

Guernica, Ruinen

Picasso had commissioned three full-size tapestry reproductions of the work by Jacqueline de la Baume Durrbach and her husband René in 1955, weavers in Southern France. Nelson Rockefeller purchased one of these and it hangs on loan in the United Nations at the entrance to the Security Council room. A blue curtain strategically covered Guernica for televised press conferences of Colin Powell and John Negroponte on 5 February 2003. [Kennedy M. “Picasso tapestry of Guernica heads to UK.” London: The Guardian, 26 January 2009.] Picasso entrusted Guernica to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, pending re-establishment of liberty and democracy in Spain. After Spain became a democratic constitutional monarchy in 1978 the painting was ceded to Spain in 1981, although not without dissent that the ruling system was still not quite the republic stipulated by the artist in his will.

 

Short bits.

Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) conferences, discussed here last month, brought M&M candy to mind. The story goes that the Spanish Civil War inspired Forrest Mars, Sr. to create an American version of the British confection Smarties. Mars was working in England in the candy business at that time, estranged from his father, Frank Mars of Mars candy fame. Forrest had created the Mars Bar in Slough in 1932 and was looking for another product. Rowntree’s of York, maker of Chocolate Beans since 1882, had recently tweaked the name to Milk Chocolate Beans in 1937, and changed it to Smarties the following year. These oblate spheroids were sold in cylindrical cardboard tubes, with a colorful lid that contained a random alphabet letter, designed to encourage children to learn. The chocolate center was protected by a shell of hardened sugar syrup to prevent melting, a convenience enjoyed by soldiers in the Spanish Civil War.

The Spanish Civil War (17 July 1936 – 1 April 1939) engendered strong international sympathies, involving anarchists, communists, nationalists, aristocratic groups, and religious factions, although largely became viewed as a contest between democracy and fascism. British volunteers, likely including George Orwell, carried Milk Chocolate Beans and Smarties into battles and Forrest Mars might have noticed. Just as likely one of his children brought some home.

Returning to the U.S. and working with Bruce Murrie, son of Hershey Chocolate’s president, Mars developed their button-shaped variant, patented it on 3 March 1941, and began manufacture that year in New Jersey. M&M derived from Mars and Murrie, with a small “m” stamped on each button. The first big customer was the U.S. Army and during WWII M&Ms were sold exclusively to the military. “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand,” was first used as a tagline in 1949. Peanut M&Ms were introduced in 1954, and the rest is history.

Thanks for reading Matula Thoughts

David A. Bloom, M.D.

University of Michigan, Department of Urology, Ann Arbor

 

 

Matula Thoughts March 1, 2019

 

DAB What’s New Mar 1, 2019

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Stories

1999 words

[Above: childbirth fever pamphlet 1855 – a fatal complication. Below: M&M complications conference at UM Urology.]

One.             

M&Ms.  Once a month our department gathers at 7 AM on a Thursday morning for Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) conference, as is typical of most surgical training programs. This recurring touchpoint integrates the triple mission of medical academia so we can learn from the serious complications inherent to our work, improve the quality of that work, and discover new avenues of investigation. Typically, residents or fellows tell a story of a complication or a death, faculty members involved consider “what might have been done differently,” others share their experiences and thoughts, and sometimes a literature-based short presentation is offered. Complications are classified by the Clavien system. [Above: January 2019 M&M with Priyanka Gupta discussing the new complications entry system.] These conferences fine-tune our mutual relevance, allowing regular inspection of our complications, discussion from the perspective of quality improvement, and calibration of individual work with that of colleagues.

When I was a resident, grand rounds centered around the chair, whose every opinion mattered. Performances as residents could make or break progression through residency and chances for fellowships or good jobs. The chair critiqued everyone else and molded the department in his image (always a “his” during my training), much like an Autocrat at the Breakfast-Table, the title of essays by Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1858. Those of us who made it through the process naturally carried a deep respect and even fondness for the chair, while others were not quite so enamored. Things have changed, especially in big departments, with decentralization to divisions and teams much more the order of the day, and while structure is still necessarily hierarchical (the buck must stop somewhere), a more democratic flavor rules the day at M&M conferences and grand rounds.

Although chairs are no longer the center of departmental universes, they set much of the tone and represent the team administratively to the rest of the institution. Departments improve when leadership rotates carefully, as it has in our case, and today it’s official: we welcome Ganesh Palapattu to our chair position, and Brent Hollenbeck as vice chair of the University of Michigan Department of Urology.

 

Two.

The Clavien-Dindo system, described in 2004 by Zurich surgeons Pierre Clavien and Daniel Dindo, assigns grades to surgical complications: Grade I events are small deviations from normal expected operative or postoperative courses; Grade II events are atypical medication needs, including blood transfusion and total parenteral nutrition; Grade III are complications requiring surgical, endoscopic, or radiologic intervention – with or without anesthesia; Grade IV are life-threatening complications; and Grade V is death. [PA Clavien et al. Ann Surg. 250:187-196, 2009.] Our M & M conferences focus on Clavien III or greater complications, mainly to identify learning opportunities: what could we do better, personally, or in our teams and systems? Human activities are inevitably susceptible to periodic errors and negative outcomes, but medical complications are serious disappointments and sometimes tragedies for patients and their families. Each complication is a story, often a complex one. Faculty and residents must learn from them, grieve over them, and learn to deal with the adversity. Just as importantly, surgeons must move on to take care of the next patient. The seminal book Forgive and Remember by Bosk, discussed on these pages in the past, is worth renewed attention. [Bosk CL. Forgive and Remember. Managing Medical Failure. University of Chicago Press. 1979.]

Getting “the story” right is a universal necessity, whether from personal points of view, social perspectives, or occupational demands. Journalists, teachers, politicians, engineers, lawyers, and physicians need to understand stories and ascertain truth. Surgeons need to know a patient’s story from the diagnostic perspective in order to come to operative solutions, and if complications occur, then it is imperative to understand those stories, for only then can the practice of medicine improve.

 

Three.

The idea of what is “right” – that is what can be proven true or is generally accepted as correct – is surprisingly complex, requiring a socially shared sense of “truth” and factual reliability.  A person’s ability to adhere to truth is a matter of integrity, and we expect higher levels of integrity from physicians, scientists, and engineers than many other occupations. Yet, shouldn’t we expect integrity in all responsible occupations, from chefs to politicians? When is it forgivable to tamper with the public trust for personal gain or malicious reason and what are the boundaries of the First Amendment? These tough questions are beyond solution in Matula Thoughts, but should be considered and discussed by all members of society.

It is a fact, as this line is written, that it is not raining outside my window, but that fact will change with time and environment. Some facts are difficult to ascertain and people sometimes have legitimate misconceptions of reality, uncertainty being intrinsic to humanity. Deliberate misrepresentation of reality, however, is corrosive to any social group and to society at large. Deliberate misrepresentation is expected in the products of fiction and the entertainment industry, but not in their business dealings. Misrepresentation in business, politics, religion, etc., erodes trust, essential for a healthy society. When stories become propaganda, or opinions masquerade as journalism, free speech is abused. Misrepresentation in medicine and science, worse matters, are social crimes.

These last charges are tricky, running contrary to the First Amendment and the cherished idea of free speech. Yet, “yelling fire” in a theater or its equivalent on social media is too  dangerous for society to tolerate. Democratic societies have yet to figure out where and how to draw the line between deliberate misrepresentation and free speech, and the hyper-pace of contemporary social media exacerbates the dilemma. Given that the ideas of the First Amendment are self-ordained “rights” of humanity, it is unlikely that they can be preserved if they cannot be better stewarded to serve the public, rather than serve individuals, factions, or ideologies.

Then, too, there is the matter of the “backstory,” the history, conditions, and other narratives leading up to a particular story and the circumstances that frame it. In health care the backstory includes co-morbidities, while in the field of economics such circumstances are dismissed as externalities. Although stories are simpler and easy to “understand” when stripped of complicating and confounding matters, stripped-down stories rarely convey the whole truth of a matter for accurate understanding.

 

Four.

It is hard to escape the name Oliver Wendell Holmes in American history. There were two of them, the first an iconic American physician (1809-1894) and the second, his son, an iconic supreme court justice (1841-1935). Both lives and careers centered on stories and truth.

Medical practice is a highly social profession and business. Socialization of practitioners with specialized knowledge and experience, sharing their stories, is a route to progress and today’s M&M conferences are programmed opportunities for this teamwork. Medical education, standards of practice, quality improvement, and research have been built around socialization since ancient times of Mediterranean and Asian medical practice, medieval professional guilds, and doctors in the early days of the United States.

One sparkling example was The Boston Society for Medical Improvement, doctors who wanted to share ideas and ascertain truths. Established in 1828 by John Spooner with 11 members, the Society quickly grew to 35 by 1838. Meetings were held the second and fourth Monday each month, originally in Spooner’s rented room on Washington Street.  A cabinet keeper managed a collection of specimens contributed by the members. Only “elite” practicing physicians of Boston were eligible and a younger set of physicians in 1835 formed their separate Boston Society for Medical Observation, echoing the terminology of Professor Louis in Paris, under whom Holmes studied. The two competing Boston groups ultimately merged in 1894.

The picture above, from the Countway Library Center for the History of Medicine, shows the Boston Society for Medical Improvement in 1853: sitting – George Bethune, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Samuel Cabot, Jonathan Mason Warren, William Coale, James Gregerson; standing – Charles Ware, Robert Hooper, Le Baron Russell, Samuel Parkman. Samuel Cabot was the grandfather of Arthur Tracy Cabot and Hugh Cabot, two of the most influential urologists in the transitional fin de siècle between the end of the late 19th century and early 20th. Hugh Cabot’s arrival in Ann Arbor in autumn 1919 defines the Michigan Urology centennial.

 

Five.

Puerperal fever & a murder. At a summer meeting in 1842 of the Boston Society for Medical Improvement, JBS Jackson queried fellow members their opinions regarding the possible contagiousness of puerperal fever. Jackson was concerned by the death of a colleague after treating an infected woman, and he knew of other infections incurred by subsequent patients the decreased physician had treated before he died. Holmes, a member of the original French Society of Medical Observation during his study in Paris a decade earlier, took up Jackson’s question and presented his own independent research, “The contagiousness of puerperal fever,” back to the Society on February 13, 1843. The presentation was commemorated in a 1940 painting by Dean Cornwell, That Mothers Might Live (below).

OWH 1843

The New England Quarterly Journal of Medicine and Surgery published Holmes’s talk in April and it was reprinted as a pamphlet (top, lead picture). Holmes was certain that “obstetricians, nurses, and midwives were active agents of the infection, carrying the dreaded disease from the bedside of one mother to the next.” This was among the earliest good evidence for germ theory of disease.

Holmes was dean of Harvard Medical School when he factored in the sensational murder case of wealthy Bostonian George Parkman in 1849. Parkman had studied medicine, but never practiced, so it is likely that the Parkman identified in the Boston Society for Medical Improvement was his relative. The murdered George Parkman was a wealthy Bostonian who had studied abroad, received an MD in Aberdeen, Scotland, and studied further in France, taking particular interest in mental illness. After returning home, however, he never practiced medicine, instead managed family property, so was ineligible for the Medical Improvement Society, although an admired friend of Holmes.

John Webster was also from an affluent family and had studied abroad. Later in Boston Webster became professor of chemistry and geology at the medical school, but ran into debt often and borrowed extensively, including from George Parkman. In an argument over a debt, Webster killed Parkman in his medical school office on November 23, 1849, dismembered the body, and hid it in a locked cellar basement restroom. An astute custodian, Ephraim Littlefield, concerned about the popular missing Bostonian, broke into the room and discovered the body remnants on November 30, 1849.  Holmes testified persuasively at the 12-day trial and Webster was executed by hanging on August 30, 1850. Holmes dedicated his 1850 introductory lecture to the medical school class in Parkman’s memory. [Below: OW Holmes c. 1879.]

Holmes enjoyed stories, although happier ones than that of his murdered friend. He wrote poetry and books of fiction and nonfiction. A founder of the Atlantic Magazine, he contributed to it regularly and mingled with the literary set in Boston, including J. Elliot Cabot, James Russell Lowell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Holmes popularized the term Boston Brahmin and was certainly one of them. The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table is a collection of 1857-1858 essays Holmes wrote for The Atlantic, published in book form in 1858. The stories are one-sided dialogues between a genial and “anonymous author” and other residents of a New England boarding house. It is, perhaps, more than a coincidence that the fictional detective imagined 40 years later by Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, would share the Holmes surname.

 

Short story. Frédéric François Chopin born this day in 1810, six months after Holmes, lived a short life of only 39 years. Although numerous photographs exist of Holmes, only two exist of the great Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. [Below: top, Chopin c. 1847, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chopin1847_R_SW.jpg]

Photography as a technology was new and rare during the early lives of these two men, but Holmes’ luck of longevity gave him greater opportunity as a subject. [Above: Chopin c. 1849. Daguerreotype by Louis-Auguste Bisson.]

 

Thanks for reading Matula Thoughts.

David A. Bloom

University of Michigan, Department of Urology, Ann Arbor

 

 

February 1, 2019

DAB What’s New Feb 1, 2019

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Sands of time, transition, & short thoughts on rules
3996 words

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One.

time

February, the shortest month, begins today, this Friday, and its periodic extra day comes next year on a Saturday. Although 2019 is only a month old, the sands of time slipped away for one iteration of Michigan Urology, and the metaphorical hourglass reloads today for our Michigan Urology version 8 that will refresh our department. Regental privilege requires that the next urology chair requires formal action, although most of us know the party in question, who begins today as acting chair. Ganesh Palapattu will do an excellent job leading the faculty, residents, and staff – the parties who will actually do the refreshing. Our new chair will face challenges and, if history is any guide, our team will support him fully for the next chapter of the Michigan Urology journey. In that context, this is a good time to examine the past and re-articulate our history, as Richard Feynman (1918-1988), American theoretical physicist, once wrote:

“Why repeat all this? Because there are new generations born every day. Because there are great ideas developed in the history of man, and these ideas do not last unless they are passed purposefully and clearly from generation to generation.” [Feynman RP. The Meaning of it All. Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist. 1998.]

It may be a long stretch from the “great ideas in the history of man,” to a modest history of Michigan Urology but I hope you allow Matula Thoughts some slack and accept this belief in regularly rearticulating the past for each cohort of our successors.

screenshot 2019-01-29 14.12.14

I first met Ganesh when I was visiting professor at UCLA, my urology alma mater, and he was a resident under Jean deKernion, a wonderful urologist, leader, and friend. As a visiting professor at a number of places, I often tossed out ideas for papers, but Ganesh was perhaps the only one over the years who took the bait and completed a paper with me. His career took him to Johns Hopkins, The University of Rochester, and then Baylor in Houston at Tim Boone’s program. At great loss to Tim, but with his consent and blessing, Ganesh and his lab, with Alex Zaslavsky, came to Michigan at the start of my term as chair. Ganesh is well prepared. He is a terrific teacher, effective leader, excellent surgeon, and has led our largest urology section, uro-oncology, very well. When a need is identified he steps up – he was among the first to volunteer in Flint at the Hamilton Community Health Network clinic, when that opportunity materialized. His lab has done well with a recent 2% score on its latest grant submission. Ganesh will be thoughtful, consensus-building, and creative as he leads Michigan Urology in its mission (education, research, and clinical care), and our essential deliverable – kind and excellent patient-centered care. [Above: Ganesh with Anu. Below: with Kirtan and Elina.]

 

Two.

250px-the_melody_haunts_my_reverie

Anticipating the centennial of Michigan Urology, we’ve been working on a new volume of our story, previously written by the late John Konnak and urological scholar Dev Pardanani nearly 20 years ago. It is impossible to understand the urology story in Ann Arbor, without a larger sense of the story of our state, our specialty, and our university. It might be said that melodies of the past haunt the reveries of our stories, to tweak Hoagy Carmichael’s phrase. So, our story properly began around 11,000 years ago, well before Hippocrates and the known roots of medical practice, with the inhabitants of the Mound Builder and Woodland cultures who populated our geographical area after the last glacial period receded. The Holcombe beach site near Lake Saint Clair has evidence of Paleo-Indian settlement in that era and by the 17th century, Huron, Odawa, Potawatomi, and Iroquois people inhabited the region. Dates are difficult to ascertain, but legend, archeology, and solar eclipse history suggest that an Iroquois Confederacy of Five Nations around the Great Lakes formed by then. Those people surely suffered from urological problems and undoubtedly tried many remedies to ease their pains, although the ailments either dissipated or claimed the poor sufferers’ lives. [Above: Painting by Roy Lichtenstein, 1965. Below, Map of Five Nations, De Lisle, 1718. Darlington Collection, University of Pittsburgh.]

map_of_the_country_of_the_five_nations_belonging_to_the_province_of_new_york_and_of_the_lakes_near_which_the_nations_of_far_indians_live_with_part_of_canada_taken_from_the_map_of_the_lou

French explorers, beginning with Étienne Brûlé, around 1610, Samuel de Champlain, and later René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle, attempted to colonize the regional home of the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca who comprised the Iroquois Five Nations. The Tuscarora joined the confederacy in 1722 to become the Six Nations that eventually were overwhelmed by Europeans.

 

Three.

Prelude to UM. Detroit, a settlement town in the western territory of a young United States, was initially referred to as the straights. Michigan became a distinct territory, carved from the Northwest Territory by congressional act, 30 June 1805. First governor William Hull and presiding judge Augustus B. Woodward described its history, in their first report, with the French penetration of Lake Michigan, the “Ouisconsin” River and the Mississippi down to its “mouth,” defaulting to the French feudal system of property ownership by aristocratic right (seigniorial), but offering no sensitivity to the Native American perspective:

“Prior to this era the settlements of the strait had commenced, and Detroit claims an antiquity of fifteen years superior to the city of Philadelphia. The few titles granted by the government of France were of three French acres in front, on the bank of the river, by forty feet in depth, subject to the feudal and seignoral conditions, which usually accompanied titles in France.” [Michigan Historical Collections. 36:107, 1908.]

The claim in the report refers obliquely to La Salle who buried an engraved plate and cross near what is now Venice, Louisiana, on April 9, 1682 to assert ownership of the territory by France. Hull and Woodward didn’t have all their facts in order regarding Philadelphia, also founded in 1682 but a month earlier on March 4 when William Penn made it the capital of Pennsylvania Colony. Great Britain assumed the French possessions after the 1763 Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Year’s War. Another Treaty of Paris, in 1783, ended the Revolutionary War, and the territory that would become Michigan was acquired from Canada by the United States. The Hull and Woodward Report tells of the sad circumstances of Detroit in June of 1805 just after it had burned to the ground:

“It was the unfortunate fate of the new government to commence its operations in a scene of the deepest public and private calamity. By the conflagration of Detroit, which took place on the morning of the 11th of June, all the buildings of that place, both public and private, were entirely consumed; and the most valuable part of the personal property of the inhabitants was lost. On the arrival of the new government [Woodward arrived Saturday June 29 and Hull on Monday July 1]. A part of the people were found encamped on the public grounds, in the vicinity of the town, and the remainder were dispersed through the neighboring settlements of the country; both on the British and the American side of the boundary… The place which bore the appellation of the town of Detroit was a spot of about 2 acres of ground, completely covered with buildings, and combustible material…” [Central Michigan University. Clarke Historical Library. 1805. Hull.]

Detroit rebounded from the fire and was on the upswing when The War of 1812 broke out and the town, indefensible, surrendered to the British on 6 August. An attempt to regain Detroit by General William Henry Harrison failed in January 1813, but on 10 September Commodore Perry’s fleet of nine small ships defeated six heavily armed Royal Navy ships on Lake Erie and returned the city to the United States. One quarter of the recruited American soldiers were African American. The British retreated up the Thames River in Canada, where the decisive Thames Battle on 5 October turned the tide against Great Britain and Tecumseh’s Confederacy (recounted here in Matula Thoughts last year). This story is a prelude to the University of Michigania, organized in Detroit in 1817.

 

Four.

New Year resolutions have faded into memory by now for all but the most resolute of us, although it’s worth reflecting that resolutions and intentions reflect the best versions of our imperfect selves. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, an architect of some of the best of modern American society, was particularly good with his public words, few more noteworthy than in his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933 during the depth of the Great Depression: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Yet, no more or less imperfect than most of us today, FDR sometimes crumbled from fear himself, as early in WWII with Executive Order 9066 February 19, 1942, authorizing the Secretary of War to prescribe “Military Areas”:

“Whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded there from, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of War or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish the purpose of this order. The designation of military areas in any region or locality shall supersede designations of prohibited and restricted areas by the Attorney General under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, and shall supersede the responsibility and authority of the Attorney General under the said Proclamations in respect of such prohibited and restricted areas.” [Below: FDR at Yalta. DG Chandor portrait at SAAM, Washington.]

chandor. fdr yalta

The Executive Order quickly became actual law on March 21, 1942 when Roosevelt signed Public Law 503, put forth by Congress after 30-minute discussion in the House and an hour in the Senate, thus evicting 122,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry (two thirds were American citizens) from their West Coast homes to incarceration camps. Americans of German and Italian ancestry were similarly targeted, but with much smaller numbers. Another Executive Order, number 9102 signed 18 March 1942, created the War Relocation Authority (WRA) to manage the forced relocation and internment. Milton Eisenhower was its first director, but only for a few months. His successor, Dillon Myer asked Eisenhower if he should take the job and was told:

“Dillon, if you can sleep and still carry on the job my answer would be yes. I can’t sleep and do this job. I had to get out of it.” [NYT 3 May 1965.] [Oral history interview with Dillon S. Myer. Harry S. Truman Presidential Library.]

Ultimately, 18 Civilian Assembly Centers, 10 Relocation Centers of the WRA, 9 Justice Department Centers (with German-American and Italian-American detainees), 3 Citizen Isolation centers (for “problem inmates”), 3 Federal Bureau of Prisons sites (mainly for draft resisters), 18 U.S. Army facilities, and 7 Immigration and Naturalization Services’ facilities were involved in detentions. The Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During WWII revisits this sad story with the Golden Crane sculpture of Nina Akamu showing two Japanese cranes caught in barbed wire. Semicircular granite walls name the ten main WRA internment camps and The Archipelago on the open perimeter along Louisiana Avenue near D Street in Washington, DC, symbolizes the Japanese Islands and the five generations of Japanese Americans affected by the war. [Below: Two Cranes. DAB January, 2018.]

japanese monument

 

Five.

Hourglasses turn the ephemeral notion of time into physical reality. The grains of sand are elementary chemicals assembling by physical rules into worthy objects, stardust like ourselves. Laws of chemistry and physics that created stardust are durable and universal. Human rules are fungible and we hope that representational government and good leaders bend them to fairness, allowing redress when rules are improper, archaic, wrong-headed, or harmful to the public good. All sorts of rules, federal, state, local, professional, organizational, sectarian, familial, and personal ones constrain us, and sometimes they seem to come out of the blue as with presidential directives. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, considered here last month, and FDR’s Executive Order 9066 raise the issue of these curious sidebars of American law. A report of the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, by legislative attorney John Contrubis (updated March 9, 1999) explains the origin and usage of these two “Presidential instruments” (below).

pres proclam

The Constitution provides no explicit authority for executive orders and proclamations, although Article II states: “the executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States,” “the President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States,” and “he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Dogmatic originalism, might then argue to exclude the Air Force from presidential authority, or stipulate that a president execute all laws faithfully to their letter (rather than broad interpretation of Constitutional intent), or that a president must be a “he.” Such pedantic exercises unnaturally infuse human rules with an immutability similar to natural laws of chemistry and physics.

emanc proc

As humans, we elevate some of our laws to higher truths, such as belief in human liberty, the sanctity of life, equality of opportunity, and the right to pursue happiness, recognizing that these “self-evident truths” are perhaps on a higher plane than laws of prohibition, zoning, speed limits, or executive orders. Executive orders are legally binding directives given by the president to federal agencies in the executive branch, while executive proclamations may be ceremonial, policy announcements celebrations (Mother’s Day), or statements of a condition (e.g. of national mourning for the death of George HW Bush). Clearly there is overlap between orders and proclamations; the Emancipation Proclamation was as much an order as a proclamation. [Above: Emancipation Proclamation, Clements Library, University of Michigan. Below: 1914 Proclamation of Woodrow Wilson designating Mother’s Day.]

mother's day proclamation copy

 

Six.

Lysekno. Civic laws can cast long shadows that undermine education and science, setting human laws and policies at odds with the natural world. The Trofim Lysekno (1898-1976) story is a cautionary tale. That Russian biologist rejected Mendelian genetics and proposed his own theory of environmentally-acquired inheritance, offering experimental results with improved crop yields by his methods (unverified by others) and convincing Joseph Stalin to embrace Lysenkoism nationally. Soviet scientists who opposed the idea were dismissed from their posts, if not killed as “enemies of the state.” [Fitzpatrick S. Stalin’s Peasants: Resistance and Survival in the Russian Village after Collectivization. Oxford University Press. 1994. p. 4-5.] Forced collectivization and famine followed in the 1930’s, but Lysenko’s political power consolidated and in 1940 he became director of the Institute of Genetics of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1948, scientific dissent from Lysenko’s theory was outlawed.

After Stalin died in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev retained Lysenko in his post, but scientific opposition resurfaced and his agricultural influence declined. In 1964, Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989) physicist, architect for the Soviet thermonuclear bomb, but later Soviet dissident and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient (1975), denounced Lysenko to the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1964 saying:

“He is responsible for the shameful backwardness of Soviet biology and of genetics in particular, for the dissemination of pseudo-scientific views, for adventurism, for the degrading of learning, and for the defamation, firing, arrest, even death, of many genuine scientists.” [Norman L, Qing NL, Yuan JL. Biography of Andrei Sakharov, dissent period. The Seevak Website Competition.] [Cohen BM. The descent of Lysenko. The Journal of Heredity. 56:229-233, 1965.] [Cohen BM. The demise of Lysenko. The Journal of Heredity. 68:57, 1977.]

Lysenko died in Moscow in 1976 with only brief mention in the daily national newspaper. His politically enforced scientific pseudo-science had tragic consequences for millions of people in Soviet Russia. Lysenko wasn’t the first to consider the effects of environment on inheritance, Lamarck (1744-1829) had that thought much earlier. Open scientific give and take has since shown that Mendelian and other genetic processes are indeed influenced if not largely regulated by epigenetic factors. Science works well, but not when corrupted by ideology.

 

Seven.

573px-the_gerry-mander_edit

Too bad Gerrymanders aren’t mythical creatures. These Homo sapiens look-a-likes actually exist, grabbing and abusing transient authority to distort reality and fairness to gain political advantage. Democracy as expressed in our origin-document, The Declaration of Independence is built upon shared belief in fairness, but when fairness is seriously undermined, authoritarianism creeps back into public life – authority of a political party, authority of a leader, authority of a particular ideology, authority of a religion, or authority of a class of people. History shows this human propensity again and again with tribalism, kingdoms, monarchies, dictators, cults, single-party nations, etc. Gerrymander came from Elkanah Tisdale’s cartoon in the Boston Centinel, 1812, showing the district created by the Massachusetts Legislature to favor incumbent Democratic-Republican candidates over the Federalists. [Above: Tisdale’s creature in the Centinel, 1812. Below: Michigan districts.]

 

mich congressional

Eradication of the gerrymander is one of democracy’s existential necessities. This problem is exacerbated by the algorithmically-targeted misinformation made possible by personal data mining. This perversion of free speech is dramatized in the Netflix film, Brexit.

 

Eight.

history hall

History Hall. Along the passages connecting University Hospital, Frankel Cardiovascular Center, Rogel Cancer Center, and Medical Sciences I buildings are pictures of most of the Medical School graduating classes. Even as faculty and staff walk briskly through them, discussing their work, the decorative walls and the light from the glass tunnel are pleasant and even refreshing. If you have a chance to linger briefly and look, the pictures take your walk through a history of paradigm changes, economic booms and busts, great discoveries, inspiring leaders, wars, bad actors, duds, and all the other stuff of 170 years. Each student and faculty member in the class pictures is an individual summation of countless personal dramas and stories. [Above: David Fox and Joe McCune.]

Maybe stepping aside as chair (I don’t think of it so much as “stepping down” or a loss, but I am truly pleased to have Ganesh Palapattu pick up the challenges, present and ahead) gives me too much time for lingering walks and gratuitous thoughts. Framed by all the larger problems of the world (geopolitical conflict, terrorism, poverty, widening inequality, economic unpredictability, environmental degradation, infectious diseases, and other existential threats) one must wonder: can we humans successfully control our own destiny? If so, some structure and rules are obviously necessary for 7 billion people on a small planet, but will the structures and rules revert to ancient painful models of authoritarian rule and pyramidal hierarchy, or could they tilt toward libertarian, laissez-faire, or anarchistic models although those have never proven successful at large scale?

The question is not merely rhetorical, it is existential and an answer needs to be found between those extremes, within some central range. How we find, set, and reset that optimal place in our laws is the ultimate political question. Representational democracy, even as terribly imperfect as it is, seems to offer the best framework to balance individual freedom and happiness with optimization of societal function, human destiny, and planetary sustainability. This same dilemma of governance, structure, and rule-setting is recapitulated in localities and large organizations, even that of Michigan Medicine. These may seem strange Matula Thoughts for the moment and solutions are beyond the wisdom of this writer, but with 7 billion points of wisdom, good answers should abound. Lingering walks through history halls can help.

 

Nine.

Academic urology at Michigan effectively began in the autumn of 1919 when Hugh Cabot came to Ann Arbor, and for that reason we begin a year of centennial celebration with our Nesbit Alumni Reunion October 3-5, 2019. Cabot’s 11 years at Michigan were transformative, but disruptive and (yes) often authoritarian, leading the regents to dismiss him in February, 1930, “…in the interests of greater harmony.” His next phase of work was at the Mayo Clinic where he focused on large issues of health care, such as testifying to Congress in favor of multispecialty group practice against the position of the AMA. Cabot’s final book, The Patient’s Dilemma, written in 1940, concludes with reflections on the problems that democratic systems have in planning the future. “It may well be – if we preserve our sense of humor – that we may suspect that the phrases ‘long distance planning’ and the ‘democratic process’ are in fact contradictions of terms.” While allowing for individual freedoms of opinions and rights to change them and exercise them through voting, Cabot explains that a democratic society that cannot make long term plans and carry them out is reduced to an “absurdity.” Cabot ends the book thus:

“…we have an immense body of opinion, part of which is in this country, a handsome part of it elsewhere, which continues in spite of discouragements, to believe that there is in all human beings an inherent and irresistible desire for certain freedoms which can be obtained only under democracy. Such a view seems to me based upon irrefutable evidence going back to the beginnings of the world. Its validity I cannot doubt. Once we admit this premise, once we admit that we believe that there are in democracy certain inherent benefits essential to progressive civilization, then we are driven to the conclusion that though long distance planning under democracy is beset with many vicissitudes, nevertheless such plans must be made and, by dint of good temper and the laws of the cosmos, they may come to fruition.”  [Cabot H. The Patient’s Dilemma: The Quest for Medical Security in America. 1940.]

 

Ten.

Stardust, Hoagy Carmichael’s popular song, came to his mind in 1927 when visiting his alma mater, Indiana University, where he had earned a bachelor’s degree in 1925 and law degree in 1926. Mitchell Parish added lyrics in 1929 and the song has been recorded by Bing Crosby (1931), Nat King Cole (1956), and Willie Nelson (1978) among many others. The music and the lyrics are equally compelling, with Parish linking “the purple dust of twilight time,” the stars, and memories of a lover: “And now my consolation is in the stardust of a song.”

The original title was two words, Star Dust. Astronomers have learned much about the topic since Hoagy’s day: the elements of stardust larger than hydrogen and helium up to the size of iron required solar furnaces for their creation, but larger elements required the greater manufacturing complexity of supernovae. The fact that life is literally made of stardust is not just a figure of speech, the stardust of a song is a lyrical metaphor of a higher order of magnitude. Lying somewhere between cosmic stardust and its human incarnation is the daily work and politics of humanity, and these have been the focus of matulathoughts.org.

I came to Ann Arbor in 1984 from Walter Reed and the U.S. Army at the invitation of Section Head Ed McGuire, who very positively impacted the world of urology and myself. I inherited the stewardship of Michigan Urology from another great urologist and our inaugural chair, Jim Montie. Previous leaders of urology at Michigan educated superb urologists from Nobel Prize winner Charles Huggins and Reed Nesbit, the first section head, through Jack Lapides who trained another splendid cohort, including Hugh Solomon whom we often see at Grand Rounds. [Below, Hugh and Jim.] Following Jack, we had Ed, Joe Oesterling, Bart Grossman, and then Jim. They all brought things to the table, so to speak.

screen shot 2019-01-16 at 7.47.03 am

My appreciation is profound to our faculty, staff, Nesbit alumni, and friends of the department. You have made my time as chair a joy. Sandy Heskett has been with me from the start of my administrative duties in Allen Lichter’s dean’s office and she has somehow dissolved the problems of each day and kept our department as well as your old chair on track. Jack Cichon and Malissa Eversole have been incomparable in their work and loyalty to our team. Thanks, too, to my colleagues and friends on the faculty, in the Dean’s office, and on central campus. It has been a great run for me, but it isn’t over yet.

We appreciate your interest and will be back here on the first Friday of March at this website: matulathoughts.org. and meanwhile encourage any comments from you.

David A. Bloom
University of Michigan, Department of Urology, Ann Arbor

 

Sun rise 2019

Matula Thoughts Jan 4, 2019

Sun rise 2019
3734 words

 

Periodic re-explanation. This column, Matula Thoughts, recalls ancient uroscopy flasks called matulas, used for centuries to examine urine for clues to illness. People want to know “what comes next,” a question, explicit or unspoken, dominating most conversations in medical practice: “can it be fixed and what will happen to me?” Remedy and prognosis mattered more than diagnosis in ancient days, when technology and verifiable medical knowledge were sparse, and understanding pathophysiology (using today’s terms) was not as useful to a patient as remedy and prognosis. Direct examination of urine, particularly for color change, was one of the few early tools of practitioners and the matula was the dominant symbol of the medical profession for over 600 years in western art, until Laennec invented the stethoscope in 1816.

As a monthly collection of thoughts, relevant and random, from a senior genitourinary surgeon, the title seems appropriate. This electronic column began nearly 20 years ago in Allen Lichter’s dean’s office as a weekly email called What’s New. After returning full time to Jim Montie’s Urology Department in 2007, we continued What’s New as a weekly communication, published every Friday by varying members of our department, except for the first Friday of each month when I claimed the electronic podium. A parallel version began 5 years ago on the website MatulaThoughts.org. Happily, the Department of Urology will soon have a new chair with forms of communication to better match the times and people of the next decade. Nevertheless, this monthly habit will continue at MatulaThoughts.org reflecting personal observations, relevant and irrelevant, and events related to Michigan Medicine and the Department of Urology. [Above: Sun face on ceiling fresco, church of Saint Jean-Baptiste de Larbey, Southwestern France. 1610. Wikipedia. Below: variant of Nesbit log by Julian Wan.]

 

One.

Imagine just 100 years ago how different things were for our predecessors at the University of Michigan Medical School: Americans were recovering from WWI and the first two deadly waves of the 1918 influenza epidemic; Woodrow Wilson was US president, having been Princeton president when he was offered the Michigan job ten years earlier; women couldn’t vote and any adult could drink alcohol on this day in 1919, but by the end of the year women’s suffrage was secured in the 19th Amendment and prohibition came with the 20th Amendment; socialist and communist parties were on the rise; anarchists were preparing for spring bombings; and racial tensions festered nationally. Meanwhile, the University of Michigan carried on with its work at the Medical School and University Hospital, as life went on in Ann Arbor. [Above: Approaching New Year’s Eve, December, 2018, Liberty & Ashley, Ann Arbor.]

The University in 1919, already more than a century old as an organization and in Ann Arbor for around 80 years, was amidst a building binge under President Hutchins with the new Union, Art Museum, Hill Auditorium, and other defining structures. The 60-year old Medical School, which had looked quite good to Flexner on his visit in 1909, had since fallen behind its peers in terms of facilities. The hospital was badly out of date well before the war and replacement was further delayed by the national emergency. The practice of urology at UM was a little more than a single faculty effort in a surgery department consisting of a handful of other individuals.

Late in 1919, Medical School dean Victor Vaughan recruited Boston urologist Hugh Cabot, who would engineer 11 years of change bringing the Medical School back to the top of medical education internationally and at the pinnacle of state-of-the-art clinical practice for the first time. Academic urology in Ann Arbor surely began with Cabot.

 

 

Two.

Pundits and ordinary folk made predictions and resolutions when the sun rose on 1919 and we repeated these customs three days ago. Events will happen and paradigms will surely change over the next 12 months, but the only solid predictions this posting will offer for 2019 are: a new chair will begin stewardship of this fine Department of Urology sometime soon and we will celebrate the Michigan Urology Centennial later in the year. Other than those predictions, the rest is noise (to borrow the title of the book on 20th century music by Alex Ross). Sunrise each new day or year brings uncertainty and new possibilities. Predict and resolve whatever you wish, paradigm changes are usually outside your control, although the ability to recognize their inflection points is a useful gift. [Below: Encyclopaedia Biblica, 1903. Public domain.]

The centrality of the Sun to life is a fundamental feature of biology and logically a universal symbol in human civilizations. The 14th century BC image of pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) worshipping sun god Ra, in form of Aten, shows a partial solar disc with rays ending in little hands. Curiously, Akhnaten (1983) was one of three biographical operas written by American composer Philip Glass, the other two being Einstein on the Beach (1976) and Satyagragha (in 1979, about Mahatma Gandhi).
Inevitably, an Anthropocene imprint was added to the sun, seen in the introductory figure from Larbey and much earlier in a 4th century BC marble relief of sun god Helios driving his chariot at the Temple of Athena in Troy. [Below: Pergamon Museum, Berlin.]

The man-in-the-moon, a whimsical anthropomorphic imagination, when combined with a solar face suggests the ancient Asian complementary opposites yin and yang. [Below top: Amiens, Bibliothèques d’Amiens Métropole, manuscrit Lescalopier (Fourth Day of Creation) c. 1200. Wikipedia. Bottom: yin and yang.]

 

Janus, Roman god of beginnings, looked to both the future and the past, presiding over transitions such as war and peace,  and might be viewed as a symbol of paradigm shifts in modern times . [Below: Janus, Vatican Museum.]

Solar symbols, seen on some national flags, are ubiquitous in the Happy Face, the mother and father of all emoji, designed by commercial artist Harvey Ball in 1963. Charles Kuralt’s Sunday Morning show, launched by CBS News on January 28, 1979, continues to employ a solar disk theme throughout 40 years of reiteration by Charles Osgood and Jane Pauley, remaining a pinnacle of news and civilized commentary as each episode rolls through a set of beautifully curated solar symbols. [Below: Sunday Morning (top) & Authentic Worcester Smiley (bottom).]

 

Three.

Isaac Newton’s big paradigm shifts began inauspiciously when he was born this day in 1643. His birth date in the old-style calendar was 25 December 1642, but Gregorian conversion brings his birthday to today in the modern calendar and solar year. Bad luck shaped him from the start; father died three months before he was born and mother commented that Isaac, ar birth, could fit inside a quart mug (Wikipedia). Mother remarried, but young Isaac, unhappy at home and bullied at school, reacted by focusing on his studies, becoming a top student at Trinity College in Cambridge. Apples, gravity, planetary motion, and mathematics come to mind at first with Newton’s name, which is also celebrated in the term for a unit of force.

Newton’s color theory was another product of his astonishing ability to think about the world and find clarity about how things work. Countless people before him had seen white light refract through glass prisms into the colors of the visible spectrum and everyone sees rainbows. Yet only Newton carried those observations into a theory of color, described in a book he wrote at 71 years of age in 1704: Opticks: or, a Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflexions, and Colours of Light. [Above: double Alaska rainbow. Eric Rolph. Below: Color wheel of Goethe. Wikipedia.]

Color theory continued to attract great minds, including German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) and Scottish scientist James Maxwell (1831-1879) whose differential equations in 1865 explained the electromagnetic spectrum. [Below, User:penubag, Wikipedia.]

An early Apple Computer symbol (above) was perhaps an intentional play on Newton himself and Adobe’s color disk (below) fragments color into infinitesimal gradients of hue.

 

Four.

Urine may not be a window to the soul, but it’s a useful indicator of disease through color, sediment, or odor. Red is an obvious hallmark of trouble, whether renal trauma, urinary stone, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, infection, BPH, structural anomaly, metabolic dysfunction, rhabdomyolysis, or genetic mutations. Ancient uroscopists expanded color change into fanciful imaginations and medieval uroscopy charts offered wild speculations of what color, sediment, consistency, smell, and taste of urine might portend in terms of prognosis. [Below: uroscopy clinic. Hortus Sanitatis. 1491, Mainz. Courtesy Dick Wolfe, Countway Library.]

The paradigm shift from uroscopy to urology occurred over two centuries replacing sensory examination of urine by eye, nose, and occasionally tongue, with microscopy and chemical analysis. Nevertheless, persistent uroscopic fortune-tellers claimed legitimacy even in the face of emerging scientific reason. Thomas Brian’s book in 1637, The Pisse Prophet, is a classic example of rational attempts to debunk dogma and fraud.[Below: Wellcome Library, 1655 copy.]

The metabolic dysfunction porphyria (named for purple urine) affected Scottish physician, Archie Cochrane, born 110 years ago in 1909 on January 12, and the prime advocate in modern times for evidence-based health care. Later this month Guilia Lane, our FPMRS fellow, will educate us on Cochrane in What’s New. [Below: normal urine sample on left and porphyria sample on right.]

This sample below from my clinic a few years ago was oddly green, but I failed to make note of the cause. Color still matters in modern urinalysis although, since matulas gave way to microscopy and chemical analysis, physicians rarely demand to view urine themselves before it heads to a machine or laboratory.

Macroscopic uroscopy gave way nearly completely to modern urine investigation with specific gravity measurement, chemical analysis, microscopic exam of spun sediment, bacteriologic culture, antibiotic sensitivity testing, and who knows what will come next. Twentieth century urinalysis was a cornerstone of urologic practice when it was unimaginable for a patient to leave the office of a good urologist without submitting a urine for examination. Hinman’s Eight Steps to Presumptive Diagnosis constituted the basis of urologic practice, at his start in San Francisco in 1920 as the first trained urologist west of the Mississippi: history, general examination, abdominal and external genital exam, urinalysis including a stained smear, prostate exam, plain x-ray, phenolsulfonephthalein test (PSP), and residual urine. [Bloom DA, Hinman F Jr. Frank Hinman, Sr: a first generation urologist. Urology. 61:876-881, 2003.] Color and other sensory inspection still matter and while details have changed, urology is diminished somewhat when its practitioners no longer personally inspect urine grossly and microscopically, favoring instead automated readout from machine or lab.

 

Five.

The story of urology at the University of Michigan was last told 20 years ago just after the Urology Section in the Medical School Department of Surgery emerged as a full-fledged department alongside its sibling disciplines of Neurosurgery and Orthopaedic Surgery. Much happened in the next 20 years to justify a new rendition of the story and additionally much more has been learned about the earlier years. The new book should coincide with the Michigan Urology Centennial, beginning later this year. Urology is a microcosm of modern specialized health care, but its roots are also of particular interest as the first designated medical specialty in Hippocratic times and the stories since then of the discoverers, progression of skills, and innovations that led to 19th century genitourinary practice and 20th century urology should be retold and interpreted for each new generation.

No story is ever complete, in its recollections of the past, because only partial relevant knowledge is known to any author and myriad other details of the cultural and physical soups surrounding those facts are mostly lost to historical recollection. Lucky historians may find, reconstruct, resuscitate, or recover useful details, but all stories are largely narratives of imagination and facts, whether true facts or otherwise, in the words of the late urological scientist, Don Coffey. Stories, even as particular as one of an academic urology unit, are enriched by the context of its people, events, and circumstances. For example, it’s inconceivable to consider urology at Michigan without understanding Moses Gunn, and any appreciation of Gunn requires the context of the Civil War. In that sense, the Michigan urology story aims to be rich in context.

 

Six.

The bicentennial edition of Howard Peckham’s sesquicentennial work, The Making of the University of Michigan, by Margaret and Nicholas Steneck is indispensable to understanding this institution. The Stenecks proposed, metaphorically, that this university began with a single strand that represented the foundational aim of the university to disseminate knowledge and embracing education at all levels. This strand thickened over time and became joined by a second strand, turning around the first one, the new strand representing knowledge itself, that must be interpreted, renewed, created, and disseminated through explorations, criticism, research, and invention. The Stenecks identified yet another part of the braid.

“Now there is a third strand wound with the other two. The University touches more than just its young students and faculty. It gives services to the State that help maintain it; it aids citizens who never enroll. These services began when its hospitals received perplexing cases from all over the State. It continued with the upgrading of high schools, the testing of municipal water supplies, with experiments in reforestation, testing programs for state highways. It supplied reading lists for club programs, lecture series for enlightenment, and musical concerts for entertainment. It expanded to research contracts for Michigan industries, development of new products for manufacture in Michigan, seminars for business executives, realtors and assessors, state college presidents, and refresher demonstrations for physicians and dentists. It provided radio and TV educational programs for all. Teaching–research-and service. These are the warp and woof of the University today.” [Peckham HH. The Making of the University of Michigan. 1817-1992. Edited and updated by ML Steneck and NH Steneck. University of Michigan. Ann Arbor. 1967, 1994. p. 1-2.]

A better term for “service thread” is that of public goods, and today those public goods extend far beyond the state of Michigan to the world at large. Universities, since the Middle Ages, have been the single entity in human society to attend consistently and dutifully, albeit imperfectly, to the human and planetary future. In the past few centuries the university, or the Academy as some call it, has extended from small Ivory Towers that educate a particular narrow subset of learners, to complex Multiversities with broader aims such as the Stenecks listed.

 

Seven.

Mission homeostasis. The University of Michigan entered the 20th century with a more complex, but clearer iteration of an academic medical center than it displayed at its start when medical education was the sole basis for its existence. The Chemical Laboratory in 1856 introduced the service of chemical analysis to medical education, clinical practice, and scientific discovery. A more complete linkage of medical education to clinical practice came with Michigan’s first university hospital in 1869 and by its third iteration in 1891 the triple mission of an academic medical center was fully in place, although confusion over priorities played out in such disputes as moving the medical school closer to large urban populations and hospitals, compensation of clinical faculty, and criteria for academic promotion.

Mission balance continued to confuse faculty and perplex leadership for that next century and into the present one. History brings some clarity to the matter: the University of Michigan Medical School began with an educational mission of training the next generation of physicians, research followed quickly initially to refine biochemistry in the service of the public, and clinical care was recognized as the necessary milieu for medical education and research. Among these three parts of the conjoined mission, clinical care is the moral epicenter, trumping any other part of the mission at any moment. Furthermore clinical care, a matter of complex intellectual teams, is the financial engine that currently underpins the other missions. Any great academic medical center must be first and foremost a state-of-the-art health care system that not only delivers excellent patient-centric service, but also studies and improves its systems of care and technologies along with its many scholarly and clinical disciplines. Clinical teams are the essential center and most important deliverable of academic medical centers. [Above: scribe’s heart measured against “feather of truth.” Book of the Dead, c. 1,265 BC. National Geographic, Ancient Egyptians. May 2009.]

 

Eight.

No Property in Man. January 15, 1929, the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., is celebrated later this month for his role in the slow, halting, and sometimes retreating movement towards universal human rights, a struggle that remains a very incomplete paradigm shift worldwide. [Above: MLK 1964.] Extending Mahatma Gandhi’s methodology of nonviolence and civil disobedience, King fought inequality through resistance that was nonviolent on his side of the bridge to change laws, public sensibility, and hearts and minds. Martin Luther King Day is celebrated around the time of Dr. King’s birthday, January 15, but the specific day this year will be January 21 according to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Michigan Representative John Conyers along with US Senator Edward Brook (MA) offered the first bill in Congress to honor King, but it fell short of passage by a few votes in 1979. In 1983, President Reagan signed the final bill to establish the day of remembrance, which commenced in 1986, also establishing a federal commission to oversee observance of the holiday. In 1989 President George HW Bush made Coretta Scott King a lifetime member of the commission. Toronto, Canada, Hiroshima, Japan, and Wassenaar, Netherlands also honor Dr. King with public observances.

We don’t close clinics, operating rooms, or phone lines for that day at Michigan (that would hardly have been in the spirit of Dr. King, anyway), but the occasion offers a time for reflection, study, relevant academic talks, and renewed efforts toward the unfulfilled paradigm shift to universal human rights. A good friend and Americana scholar, Jim Beuche, recommended a book called No Property in Man, by Sean Wilentz. In the spirit of this month, this is a “must-read” for 2019. Wilentz explains the issue starting at the Federal Convention (U.S. “Constitutional Convention”) in 1787.

“Descriptions of the Constitution as proslavery have misconstrued critical debates inside the convention. They have slighted the anti-slavery impulses generated by the American Revolution, to which the delegates, for better or for worse, paid heed. They have missed the crucial subtlety, which is this: although the framers agreed to compromises over slavery that blunted antislavery hopes and augmented the slaveholders’ power, they also deliberately excluded any validation of property in man.” [Wilentz. No Property in Man. Harvard University Press, 2018.]

Many forces assembled to abolish slavery in America, but Wilentz argues that the United States Constitution, the Republican Party (“an antislavery mass organization unprecedented in world history”), Proclamation 95 (Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation), and the 13th Amendment, legally abolished any legitimacy of the notion of “property in man” in America. [Below: page one of the five-page Emancipation Proclamation. National Archives.]

At President Kennedy’s suggestion, King led an effort to draft a Second Emancipation Proclamation, that would have outlawed segregation and expanded equality, but Kennedy’s Executive Order 11063 fell short of the draft. Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964, fulfilled more of King’s aspiration. That year King won the Nobel Peace Prize at age 35. He was assassinated in 1968 at age 39.

 

Nine.

Harvey Ball (1921-2001) designed the Happy Face to repair a decline in morale after the bumpy merger of two insurance companies. How effective the ideogram was in that instance is not clear, but Ball earned $45 for it and never applied for trademark or copyright. He never voiced regret for giving his symbol to the public, even after it became a universal symbol. Ball was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, served in the Pacific Theater of WWII with a Bronze Star for heroism at Okinawa, started his own advertising company in his home town in 1959. One day, in 1963, he drew Smiley.

 

As a matter of law, copyright goes back to 1709 and the Statute of Queen Anne of Britain, the last monarch of the House of Stuart and the same Anne portrayed in the current film, The Favourite. Another current film, Mary Queen of Scots, portrays the start of the House of Stuart two centuries earlier, with the conception and birth of James, later first Stuart and first king to preside over England and Scotland.

The U.S. Constitution in 1787 includes a Copyright Clause (Article 1, Section 8), recently updated with the Copyright Act of 1976 and the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, also called the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” [Above: Queen Anne’s Statute. Below: Bell’s graph of US Copyright law expansion. “©1999-2008 Tom W. Bell. All rights reserved. Fully attributed noncommercial use of this document permitted if accompanied by this paragraph.” Wikipedia.]

Three days ago (Jan 1, 2019), according to U.S. copyright laws, all works published in 1923 entered the public domain. Sonny’s name was likely linked more to his music than his love of 1923 literature. (Wikipedia.) Works published then were to have entered the public domain in 1999, but were granted postponement by 20 years when Congress extended their copyright length with the Bono Act. Willa Cather’s A Lost Lady, Agatha Christie’s The Murder of the Links, Joseph Conrad’s, The Rover, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, Marcel Proust’s The Prisoner (vol. 5 of In Search of Lost Time), William Carlos Williams’s The Great American Novel, and Virginia Wolfe’s Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street were so reprieved.

[Above: copyright applied. Below: public domain.]

 

Ten.

Matula Thoughts analytics, 2018. We have no sense of the readership of the monthly What’s New delivered by email, but the web version, MatulaThoughts.org had 3454 views last year compared 3173 views in 2017. Viewers came from 89 countries, ranging from a few viewers in 35 countries, to 54 in Germany, 70 in the U.K., 87 in Canada, and 2578 in the US. Most views are cursory, but we enjoy hearing back directly from periodic careful readers who challenge our facts and alert us to errors.

[Above: analytics 2018.]
New Year 2019 began on a Tuesday and a short work week ends today for most people, but health care is a 24/7 business and by necessity we will offer more scheduled afterhours and weekend services at Michigan Medicine Urology, even though we have been doing so formally and informally for years. It is curious that most calendars begin each week on Sunday, although for most people that day is the end of the week and weekend, with the next week beginning at sunrise on Monday.

The 1902 fantasy film, Le Voyage dans la Lune, by Georges Méliés, shows an oversize spacecraft planted in the right lunar eye. We don’t have to travel 240,000 miles to stick it to a heavenly body, because Homo sapiens is doing this well enough right here at home on Earth, but possibly 2019 will be a turning point for planetary stewardship.

[Above: Schedel’s World History or Nuremburg Chronicle, 1493. Below: Earthrise, December 24, 1968. Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders.]

 

©David A. Bloom 🙂
University of Michigan, Department of Urology, Ann Arbor

December

Matula Thoughts Dec 7, 2018

3930 words

 

One.

Tiny Tim Cratchit and Ebenezer Scrooge come to mind in December when seasonal good cheer expands the possibilities of latent human kindness, turning some Scrooges into their better selves, exemplified by Charles Dickens’ 1843 tale. The author played the story well, for who can’t empathize with Tiny Tim, whose disability reminds us of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed by GHW Bush in 1990? The late president said, at the signing, that he was glad to help take down “that shameful wall of exclusion,” little knowing that the ADA would help his own access to public spaces during his wheelchair years 25 years later. [Above, upper Liberty Street, cold afternoon. Below: Tiny Tim & Bob Cratchit. Fred Barnard illustration for 1870 ed.]

We don’t need Marley’s ghost, to exercise our philanthropic nature this month. [Above: Scrooge enlightened by Marley’s ghost. John Leech Illustration in A Christmas Carol, Chapman & Hall, London. 1843. British Library.]  Tax advantages, to a dwindling extent, also enter the philanthropic calculus as people evaluate well-constructed requests for their dollars. Pleas for out-of-pocket “spare change” from panhandlers is a complex matter, sometimes linked to homelessness, but just as likely separate and multifactorial. Like most human enterprises, it grows if supported. Solicitations on the streets are often more a business rather than a solution to hunger, homelessness, poverty, mental illness, or substance abuse. Panhandling makes downtown spaces a little uncomfortable, and although handing over a buck provides momentary satisfaction, it doesn’t further the greater good of the truly needy or the public.

The community of Ann Arbor has come together for excellent programs such as the Delonis Center, Ozone House, Alpha House, Salvation Army Shelter, Dawn Farms, Home of New Vision, Packard Clinic, Hope Clinic, and Neutral Zone, but these don’t fill all the needs of homeless or otherwise at-risk people. Spare change gifting has a doubly negative effect: it encourages the business of panhandling, and it relieves guilt of panhandled individuals, who preferably could expend constructive efforts on durable solutions to the causes and needs of the people who seek help. Shelters, food banks, health care, public safety, job programs, education, and low-income housing, need political support, public policy solutions, volunteerism, and philanthropy. If you encounter a panhandler and feel guilty, consider pointing out a nearby shelter or offering a nutrition bar.  [Below: Sidney Paget illustration, The Man with the Twisted Lip. Arthur Conan Doyle, 1981.]

 

Two.

Galens Medical Society, founded in Ann Arbor in 1914 as a liaison between students and faculty, began charitable Tag Days in 1927 and solicits funds on the streets the first weekend in December.  Medical school became costly in the 20th century and in the 1930s Galens established scholarships and a loan fund. Galens now targets its funds to children’s needs in Washtenaw County.

Salvation Army kettles usually decorate December streets, although I saw few this past weekend. This evangelical church began in 1865, when Methodist circuit-preacher William Booth and his wife sermonized at the notorious Blind Beggar tavern in East London. The Salvation Army is best known for its crusade against alcoholism, as portrayed in George Bernard Shaw’s 1907 play, Major Barbara. The organization uses military titles, the CEO is referred to as General, and the kettles began in 1891 when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee placed one at San Francisco’s Market Street Ferry Landing to collect Christmas dinner money for impoverished members of the community. Disaster relief is another function of the organization.

Homelessness also applies to pets, and the Huron Valley Humane Society is another consideration for your generosity. Philanthropy, or anthrophilia, is a restricted form of biophilia, a term embraced by E.O. Wilson, who wrote:

“… to explore and affiliate with life is a deep and complicated process in mental development. To an extent still undervalued in philosophy and religion, our existence depends upon this propensity, our spirit is woven from it, hope rises on its current.

There is more. Modern biology has produced a genuinely new way of looking at the world that is incidentally congenial to the inner direction of biophilia. In other words, instinct is in this rare instance aligned with reason. The conclusion I draw is optimistic: to the degree that we come to understand other organisms, we will place a greater value on them, and on ourselves.”  [Wilson EO. Biophilia. Harvard University Press, 1984. p. 1-2.]

 

Three.

The urology chair will transition next year as the Michigan Urology Centennial approaches, and the first part of the Michigan Urology story should be in print at next year’s Nesbit Society meeting, October 3-5, 2019. The early history of UM reveals the foundational role of philanthropy, beginning as a partnership of community, state, and generous people who wanted to create something worthy and great in Ann Arbor. The same was true for its first hospital. With declining support from local and state government, philanthropy becomes mission-critical, evidenced by the recent University of Michigan campaign with $1.5 billion dollars for Michigan Medicine, celebrated last month at the North Campus Research Center. [Below: Becky and Randy Tisch flanked by Harry and Natalie Mobley.]

Endowments and endowed professorships impact our department greatly. The Babcock Fund jump started dozens of research projects and bolstered our residency and fellowships for 80 years. The Lapides endowment affected my career, Stuart Wolf’s small renal mass data set changed the worldwide approach to kidney cancer with the Brain and Mary Campbell family gift, and the professorship from George Valassis very positively helped the careers and academic work of Jim Montie, Dave Wood, Ganesh Palapattu, and Khaled Hafez. The Brandon survivorship gifts have been of inestimable value to hundreds of patients and the career of Professor Daniela Wittmann. The Chang, Nesbit, McGuire, and Moyad professorships followed, as did the Complementary/Alternative Medicine Program under Mark Moyad, initiated by Phil Jenkins, Bob Thompson, and Josh Pokempner. We are still short by ten of the need to match professorships to the expanding ranks of senior faculty.  Endowed professorships will be the essential structural elements for any great clinical department of the future.

Jerry May, UM Vice President of Development, steps down after 30 years of bountiful leadership (above, during a tough day in Columbus). Eric Barritt (below with John Copeland) has effectively led Michigan Medicine development for four years and we have enjoyed Vince Cavataio as urology’s development officer over the past two years. Endowment-building requires diligent work with a good measure of luck. In this sense, it is both stoichiometric (assembly with the right elements and proportions) and stochastic (random).

[Below: at Nesbit tailgate Vince and Tonya McCoy.]

 

Four.

Moral dilemmas of health care were explored in another Shaw play, The Doctor’s Dilemma, first produced November 20, 1906. Its Preface provides an even sharper dissection of the medical profession than the play itself. Parsing of scarce medical resources was exemplified in the story by a new cure for tuberculosis (TB) that its physician-inventor, Sir Colenso Ridgeon, could only provide to ten patients at a time. From his first group of 50 TB patients Ridgeon had to select ten “most worthy” of cure. Personal foibles added to the doctor’s dilemma when an irresistable young woman asks him to cure her dissolute husband. Around the same time a poor but noble colleague of Ridgeon’s with TB also appeals for help. Suddenly, Sir Colenso has 52 patients in need, but still only resources for ten. His other dilemma was the timeless conflict between medicine as a profession and a personal business.

Shaw modeled Ridgeon on Sir Almroth Wright (1861-1947), British bacteriologist and immunologist (below) who was one of the first to predict that antibiotics would create resistant bacteria, an idea Shaw used in his 1932 comedy, Too Good to Be True. Wright was opposed to women’s suffrage and their entry into professions, writing a book in 1913, The Unexpurgated Case Against Women Suffrage. Wright’s contrary nature probably made him suitable for Shavian friendship and earned him the names “Almroth Wrong” and “Sir Almost Right.” Wright would have raised his eyebrows had he visited Ann Arbor when the Galens Society began and found women included in the Michigan medical school class since 1871.

An essay by Michael O’Donnell in the British Medical Journal, might inspire you delve further into Shaw’s play and its Preface. O’Donnell recently adapted the play “as if for radio” and had performers read their parts, on the 100th anniversary of The Doctor’s Dilemma. O’Donnell’s essay concluded with a barb directed toward the banal teaching of “communication skills” rather than venturing into the “richer territory explored by dramatists”:

“If doctors are to treat illness as successfully as they treat disease they have to enhance their medical experience with some understanding of the world in which they and their patients struggle to survive. Their need, I suggest, is not ‘communication’ but the empathy and understanding that, thanks to Shaw, we and our audience shared on that memorable evening. And we never knowingly deployed a key communication skill.” [BMJ. 333:1338-1340.]

The years immediately following Galens origin and Shaw’s heyday severely tested Ann Arbor and the world beyond. The First World War, a catastrophe for millions, rearranged global geopolitics. The influenza epidemic, known as the Spanish Flu, infected one third of the world population with one in ten (50 million) dying from it. Spain can’t be blamed, for the disease didn’t originate there. As a neutral party in WWI Spain freely reported news of flu activity while other nations restricted information to maintain public morale and to mask information about troop illness. The War spread the flu through close quarters, troop movement, and hygiene disruption. The first U.S. flu wave commenced in the spring of 1918 in military camps and cities. A second wave emerged that September at U.S. Army Training Camp Devens outside Boston. A third and final wave in 1919 ran through the spring. When President Wilson collapsed at the Peace Talks in Versailles, Paris was still in the throes of the flu, and it has been speculated that Wilson was suffering from it. The flu was gone by summer, but H1N1 virus persists.

 

Five.

December 7, 1941, jolted Ann Arbor, like the rest of the country, with the Pearl Harbor attack. Wayne Dertien of Hudsonville shows the December 8, 1941 edition of the Grand Rapids Press, the day after Pearl Harbor (above). This picture (online from 12 June 2013 MLive.com) demonstrates how people saved newspapers or magazines to memorialize a milestone event and, presumably, return to it from time to time. How this will happen now that Gutenberg has gone digital is anyone’s guess, although it should be noted that the convenience of the internet brought me to Mr. Dertien’s picture. We located Wayne and spoke to him recently to get permission to repeat his picture and story, and he commented on how he found the article in a basket his late mother had kept with other articles and magazines that she valued, including an article on the Kennedy assassination.

For urological reasons, 1941 was also noteworthy: a paper that year by Charles Huggins, one of Michigan’s first two urology trainees, led to his Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1966. The other original trainee, Reed Nesbit the first titular head of urology at Michigan, was extraordinary in his own right, as a formative figure in urology practice, education, and research.

In 1941 Nesbit brought two young men to Ann Arbor for residency in his 13th class of residents: Dolphus Compere and Robert Plumb. (Nesbit would eventually have 36 “classes” of trainees.) I got to know Dolph through the tireless work of Maureen Perdomo, one of our development officers in the earlier years of my term as chair. Maureen was totally devoted to our urology alumni and had tracked down Dolph to a retirement home in Fort Worth. Dolph Compere (1916 – 2012) was raised by his mother in Texas after his father, a physician, died of injuries suffered in WWI. Dolph graduated from the University of Texas in 1937 and got an MD from Baylor in 1941. He came to Reed Nesbit and UM for residency in the summer of 1941 and returned to Texas to get married during his December vacation. WWII had broken out just days before the wedding. Returning to Ann Arbor Dolph asked Nesbit for permission to enlist, but Nesbit said he “wasn’t ready.” In 1943 Nesbit released him for duty. We have Dolph’s story of his time in the Pacific Theater and will include it in the Michigan Urology story. Dolph’s co-resident, Bob Plumb, is another story we are pursuing. [Below: Dolph Compere welcoming me and David Miller to Dallas in 2010.]

 

Six.

Events that conspired to cause the two world wars of the past century centered around national misunderstandings among governments that had been high-jacked by extreme points of view. Great efforts were made after WWI to minimize the chance of another great war by promoting international cooperation. Going through papers of University of Michigan president Hutchins at the Bentley Library, I found documents asking him to support a League of Nations, that was established January 10, 1920, and resulted in a Nobel Prize for Woodrow Wilson. The United States never joined and, whether related to that fact or not, a second World War broke out twenty years after ‘the war to end all wars” had ended and the League was dissolved in 1946. With these thoughts in mind, it should give us pause that international cooperation has given way to the deal of the moment. This may reflect a post-truth attitude in human society where are facts are relative or utilitarian, without shared belief in objective truths that transcend nations and disciplines. We see this in politics, in the news industry, and in entertainment. This attitude is infecting journalism, academia, science, and medicine.

Urology makes the world small because of collegial friendships, belief in inquiry, and collaborations connecting us around the world in spite of oceans, borders, walls, or professional turfs. I took this picture a year ago on the Great Wall (above), after a meeting at the home base of one of the most innovative pediatric surgeons and urologists of our time, C.K. Yeung (below).

Whatever the Great Wall divided or protected is long gone. Our guide said it may be the largest cemetery of our species, as fallen workers were buried in or alongside it as they died.

Intellectual walls are equally puzzling. One example is the deep resistance to Lister’s solid evidence for the effectiveness of antisepsis, presented so clearly in The Lancet in 1867. Resistance to that compelling evidence was plainly obtuse. Many iconic leaders of the time were defiant, notably Samuel David Gross, claimed by many at the time to be “The Father of American Surgery,” and immortalized by Eakins with a bloody bare hand during surgery in The Gross Clinic (1875). The year following the painting Gross wrote: “Little if any faith is placed by an enlightened or experienced surgeon on this side of the Atlantic in the so-called carbolic acid therapy of Professor Lister.”

An educated mind is literate in science as well as the humanistic thought of past millennia. You can’t have one form of literacy without the other to develop the critical thought necessary to understand the important issues of our time. Many are existential concerns, if not for us, then for those who follow us. [Below: paradigm shifts, Hong Kong Harbor, December, 2017.]

When paradigms shift, as they always and inevitably do, walls don’t serve us well.

 

Seven.

Charles Dickens dealt with many existential concerns of his time, poverty, environmental deterioration, ignorance, crime, violence, malnutrition, and health disparities. These continue today. Born February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, England, Dickens lived only 58 years, dying after a stroke in 1870. Most notably for my profession, pediatric urology, he was a supporter and philanthropic fundraiser for the fledgling hospital, Great Ormond Street (GOS), where modern pediatric urology began a century later with the work of Sir David Innes Williams (below, flyer for Dickens reading to benefit GOS). Imaginative literature produces colorful language for the medical profession.

Writing under the pseudonym Boz, in 1836, Dickens contributed to a publication called The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, eventually taking over the monthly periodical. The serialized story became Dickens’s first novel, The Pickwick Papers, and centered on the fictional Samuel Pickwick, Esquire, founder and perpetual president of the club. Kind, wealthy, and rotund, Samuel Pickwick’s phenotype informed a medical condition that came to light more than a century later, in the 1950s. Other figures in the Pickwick Papers included Nathaniel Winkle, Augustus Snodgrass, Sam Weller, and Alfred Jingle. Coincidentally two friends of mine in urology share surnames of those club members.

[The Pickwick Club. Charles Dickens 1838. NYPL Berg Collection.]

Pickwickian syndrome is the obesity hypoventilation condition in which some people, severely overweight, fail to breathe enough to maintain sufficient oxygen levels or low enough CO2 levels, causing sleep apnea. A BMI over 30 kg/m2, hypoxemia, and hypercapnia define the condition. [Kryger M. J. Clin Sleep Med. 8:333-338, 2012.] Other Dickensian conditions include Tiny Tim’s ailment requiring a crutch, perhaps due to Pott’s disease or renal tubular acidosis, and Major Bagstock who exemplified bronchoconstriction & cyanosis. Our own faculty colleague, Howard Markel, did a nice piece on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS, Feb 6, 2016) entitled Was Dickens the first celebrity medical spokesman?

 

Eight.

An essential, existential, meme. The philanthropic idea of Adam Smith was his first big idea. Philanthropy, a generalized warmth toward fellow creatures, extends beyond kith and kin. It is literally “a love of mankind.” This is the foundational condition behind education, health care, and the government of liberal democracy. Freedoms including journalism (“the press”), speech, religion, assembly, lobby, and personal enterprise within the constraints of law, derive from this intrinsic human characteristic of philanthropy.

At the end of a good run, I don’t want to hyperpersonalize my term as our department’s second chair and 9th urology chief, from Cabot to Montie, I was only as effective as the people around me: our staff, faculty, nurses, PAs, and residents are wonderful. I heard a recent interview on NPR that included an alleged quote from the film director Orson Wells, who said something to the effect that the role of a director was “to preside over accidents.” Whether I can trace this quote back to its origin and find it to be a true fact or not, is less important than the thought itself that any director, chair, administrator, or team leader is at the mercy of the randomness of the actions, performances, beliefs, or events that surround the stakeholders and bystanders of the enterprise.

Stochastic events are central to all parts of biology, whether genomic function, epigenetic determination, molecular assembly, behavior of any self, or teams. Life is attended by stochastic randomness, events and processes that may be explained by probability distribution, but are not precisely predictable. In this sense they are, perhaps, accidental or random. These events and processes may be mathematical, chemical, epigenetic, or social like an Orson Wells play or the management of an academic urology department. Ideas and memes, possibly the most complex biologic products, are also stochastic, as they arise. They may be good or bad, useful or destructive, true or false. We may think our dreams and ideas are accidental, stochastic as they seem to appear randomly, although they are not quite random – they have sources, coming from some conditions, memories, anxieties, wishes, or other places in the mind.

The idea of stoichiometry, so close in sound, is something quite different, intending a precision based on the chemical idea of conservation of mass. A film director or a leader of an academic clinical department needs people, props, and data. For the director, a film has a budget, it needs equipment, sites, actors, support teams (including those “best boys”), props, food, payroll systems, and a distribution plan. These are the necessary components of motion pictures. The many performances that comprise the final product, however, cannot be determined by numbers, data, or stoichiometry. Although performances may be studied, rehearsed, and coached, they are ultimately accidental. A director must provide milieu, and perhaps inspiration, but if good actors are on the scene, a good director might be most effective by getting out of the way of the characters and their art. A producer may go to an accountant to help manage the accounts, but not to direct a film. Academic units are not greatly different.

 

Nine.

Philanthropy is fundamental to humanity at the level of family and tribe, it is built into our DNA as it is in other primates and many other mammals. The love and philanthropy that we give to family and neighbors preserves and grows society, in that it is a specific and necessary component of the human condition. It is part of the stoichiometry of our species, it is a proportionate part of the mix, albeit expressed variably from person to person. It is at the heart of the early religions and cultures that defined humanity and in many cases tried to extend the idea beyond any specific family, culture, nation, or religion. Philanthropy is stoichiometric in that it is a specific and essential part of the mix of our species, but it is also stochastic or random, in the binary sense that it can happen or not happen.

Philanthropy in this sense, as a meme, had its most insightful articulation by Adam Smith, in the first sentence of his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, when he wrote in 1759:

“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.”

As a meme, this particular thought of Smith’s was not totally random in that it was shaped by millennia of human thought, his personal upbringing and education, and the society surrounding him (the astonishing Scottish Enlightenment). But as a thought that inspired his book, it popped up in his brain and was shaped into a very compelling and durable meme – the generalization of philanthropy to all of humanity. While this aspiration had been set out in the great human religions long before Smith, his meme was not compelled by a deity or demanded by a social code.

Smith recognized that each person has some nugget of generalized philanthropy within. In this complex world of 7 billion people, interwoven with perhaps only a few “degrees of separation” from each other, the meme of Adam Smith, generalized philanthropy and its first cousin, global human cooperation, is more than just a meme, it is now an existential necessity. Our genes compelled familial and tribal philanthropy that have carried us this far to human domination of the planet through the powerful tools of education, science, and technology. However, we can’t go much further without full deployment of the memes of philanthropy and global human cooperation.

 

Ten.

Leadership change is around the corner for our department and it comes at a fortuitous time with the Michigan Urology Centennial about to start later next year. This will signal a change in the weekly What’s New email communication of the Department of Urology, as that communication format and paradigm should be a choice of the next administration. On the other hand, the web-based monthly version, Matula Thoughts, will continue as best it can by this writer at the web site matulathoughts.org. The quirky title derives from the uroscopy flask that identified the entire medical profession for many centuries. Laennec’s invention of the stethoscope in 1816, supplanted the matula and is a far better symbol for the medical profession, epitomizing the idea of listening. Furthermore, the stethoscope is far more portable and durable than glass flasks, and contains little in the way of biohazard, except for an occasional bit of wax.

 

David A. Bloom
University of Michigan, Department of Urology, Ann Arbor

November rains

Matula Thoughts Nov 2, 2018

November rains


3724 words

One.

Autumn will transition from the front windshield to the rearview mirror this month, with November showers and Thanksgiving soon to follow. Colorful drives to work on Huron Drive, shown above a few weeks ago, are already memories as another seasonal foliage falls away and biological preparations begin for next season. [Below: back yard, October.]

While November rainfall is usually around the yearly average in Ann Arbor, at 3.07 inches, it bites harder than summer or earlier autumn precipitation, edging closer to snow. Last night’s rain was a taste of things to come. In contrast, November meteor showers, truly high lights, are considerably more prominent than in any other month. These falling or shooting stars are also seasonal, extraterrestrial bits of rock, usually nickel or iron, heating up and glowing as they enter the atmosphere 45-75 miles high and 45,000 miles per hour. Most night skies in the year display 5-8 sporadic meteors hourly, but in autumn, November especially, meteor storms are intense with more than 1000 shooting stars per hour. The Greek derivation of meteor means high in the air. Classification varies, with asteroids and comets as the larger interplanetary travelers while micrometeoroids and interplanetary dust are at the other end of the scale. The Meteor Data Centre lists some 900 meteor showers, but barely a dozen are well-known.

The Andromedids meteor shower first showed up soon after the University of Michigan Medical School opened its doors in 1850, when Biela’s Comet, passing near Jupiter, disintegrated into countless pieces around 1852. Earth passes through these remnants, among other celestial bits, every autumn with peak nights this year November 9-14. The Leonid shower, peaking November 15-20, contains meteoroids up to 10 mm diameter and 0.5 grams, annually depositing 12-13 tons of its stardust on Earth. The Alpha Monocerotid and Northern Taurid showers occur later in the month. Names come from the zodiac constellation locations of the origins (radiants) of the individual meteors in the night skies. [Above: all-sky fish-eye view of Leonid shower 17 November 1998, Modra Observatory, Comenius University, Bratislava. Wikipedia.] The existential threat of a large meteor strike, of course, is always “out there.”

Thanksgiving history precedes the Andromedids with origins in 16th century England where the monarchy, initially fused with Roman Catholicism, was intolerant of dissenting religions. The Church instilled many religious holidays in daily life and the calendar, 95 Church holidays not counting Sundays until 1536, when King Henry VIII, seeking an heir and other matrimonial opportunities, initiated the English Reformation. As supreme head of the Church of England, he and the new national religion were no less tolerant of dissenting religions, and pilgrims and puritans who couldn’t tolerate English intolerance relocated to North America where they initiated Thanksgiving ceremonies in Canada (1578), Virginia (1619), and Massachusetts (1621).

[Above: Shrine at Berkley Plantation, site of proposed “First Thanksgiving” December 4, 1619, in what would become Virginia. Wikipedia.]

Reforms of King Henry VIII reduced the Church holidays to 27 in 1536, but remaining dissenters argued to eliminate them entirely, calling for Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving in reaction to the overwhelming burden of state-ordained religious holidays; disasters elicited fasting days while happier events, such as defeat of the Spanish Armada or birth of royal children, bringing thanksgiving days.

Independence of the United States brought separation of religion from government, and the fortunate afterthought of the First Amendment guaranteed freedom of religion and four other specified freedoms: speech, assembly, the press, and the right to lobby the government in redress of grievances. A book, The Soul of the First Amendment, by Floyd Abrams gives some of the backstory of that cornerstone of democracy, initially taken for granted in The Constitution. [Abrams F. Yale University Press. 2017.]

 

Two.

Thanksgiving and Ohio. Thanksgiving has largely avoided encroachment by the greeting card industry, which hasn’t pursued this unusual Thursday holiday as much as it has religious holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day, to name a few. Some ingenious friends and colleagues, however, devise their own Thanksgiving greetings such as this from Nesbit alumnus, Frank Begun (1984), now at Ohio State, a few years back.

Frank looked more like a curmudgeonly surgeon than a cheerful Thanksgiving pilgrim, although his Michigan moustache in his Ohio State workplace, warmed our hearts.
I was at Ohio State last month as the Chester Winter Visiting Professor, where Cheryl Lee (1997) is the chair of urology, following Bob Bahnson.

Dr. Winter, a trainee like me from Willard Goodwin’s urology program at UCLA, led Ohio State Urology from 1960 to 1978 when Henry Wise II took over. Chester still lives in the Columbus area, but was unable to attend the education day that I greatly enjoyed in his honor. Chester got his BA and MD from the University of Iowa in 1943 and 1946 and trained in urology at UCLA. Chester co-invented radioisotope renography in 1955 and radioisotope cystography in 1960. He educated a generation of medical students and residents in urology, and cared for thousands of patients. Chester innovated procedures for priapism and incontinence, and contributed significantly to the urological literature. He has also written widely in American history, including a book on the history of Columbus, Ohio (below).

An interview with Chester online from the University of Iowa (May 16, 2017): “If you could change one thing about the practice or business of medicine, what would it be? Equality of opportunity and adequate quality in all the benefits.” [Above: Chet & Sandy, October, 2018, photo courtesy Cheryl Lee. Below: Cheryl, Emefah Loccoh medical student, Rama Jayanthi.]

Another Buckeye link, is Milwaukee pediatric urologist Jon Ellison (OSU MD and Nesbit 2013), after a stint in Seattle. Jon’s dad, Chris Ellison, was chief of surgery and medical school dean at Ohio State. Chris, Bob Bahnson, and I served together on the American College of Surgeons. The Winter Symposium was held by the Ohio State Urology Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where Rama Jayanthi leads a superb pediatric urology team. Many residents and faculty, including the non-pediatric cohort, were present for the day. I’m grateful to the three chief residents who picked me as the Winter Professor and want to compliment Cheryl on the very strong OSU program and the intellectual excitement I saw there. [Below: chief residents Kristin Ebert, Joshua Ebel, Joseph Wan.]

Ohio State, Michigan’s perpetual Big Ten rival on playing fields, is a land-grant university, like most other Big Ten schools. Michigan, however, has a different origin story that began when America, at the start of the 19th century, nearly doubled in size after Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase in 1803, that turned the American northwest into the midwest. Michigan territory got carved out in 1805 and territorial judge, Augustus Woodward, had an educational vision for the region that included a University of Michigan.

 

Three.

Higher education in America traces back, conceptually, to 1618 when Henrico College in Virginia was chartered by the London Company and given a grant of land and donation of a library, but a native American uprising killed the local colonists in 1622 before any educational program had started and the charter was revoked in 1624. Harvard College in Boston, founded in 1636 to educate the next generation of clergymen and civic leaders, fared better. The London Company and other New World ventures gave way to 13 colonies and a United States of America in 1776. After a rapid doubling of the national geography, it was evident that builders were needed, alongside the educated clergymen and civic leaders, to create national infrastructure. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 1824, introduced the German scientific/technical college, the next type of higher education in America. Stephen van Rensselaer and Amos Eaton established RPI for the “application of science to the common purposes of life.” [Wikipedia] Coincidentally (but not simultaneously) both Cheryl Lee and I graduated from RPI.

Medical education was separate from the rest of higher education in 19th century American colleges. Medicine, with little preliminary educational requirements, was taught, by lectures, cadaver demonstrations, preceptorships, and apprenticeships. The oldest public medical school, the College of Medicine of Maryland, charted in December 1807, founded the University System of Maryland and was at the time only the fifth medical school in the United States (after the University of Pennsylvania in 1765, Harvard University 1782, Dartmouth College 1798, and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons earlier in 1807.) Most medical schools throughout the entire 19th century were stand-alone small-scale private enterprises until after the mid-19th century when verifiable and scientific conceptual knowledge merged with new technology to bring specialized skills to clinical practice.

Augustus Woodward in 1816 published, A System of Universal Science, and proposed an epistemological framework for education, envisioning a catholepistemiad, or university, with a medical school called Iatrica and comprised of fields of anatomia, zoönomia, therapeutria, anthropiatria, chirurgia, mæeutria, zoötomia, and zoïatria. The rudimentary University of Michigania began in Detroit in 1817, but didn’t deploy Iatrica until 1848 after relocation to Ann Arbor, then calling it the Department of Medicine and Surgery. Abram Sager, the best educated of the five founders of the new medical branch, had graduated RPI in 1831 and obtained his medical degree from Castleton Medical College in Vermont before coming to Ann Arbor.

 

Four.

Land grant agricultural schools comprised the next iteration of higher education in America. Michigan State University in 1854 was a model for the federal Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862 that allowed states to use proceeds from sales of federal lands, specifically 30,000 acres per state, to establish land-grant schools. Justin Smith Morrill, a founder of the Republican Party and US Congressman and Senator from Vermont between 1855-1898, proposed the act in 1857. [Above: Library of Congress] It was passed by Congress in 1859, but vetoed by President Buchanan. Morrill tweaked the act to include provisions for the colleges to include engineering and military instruction, and President Lincoln signed it into law on July 2, 1862, amidst the Civil War. The act was prohibited to any state “in a condition of rebellion or insurrection.”

Iowa, the first state to implement the Morrill Act, created its State Agricultural College and Model Farm in 1862, later becoming Iowa State University of Science and Technology. After the Civil War, the Morrill Act was extended to former Confederate states as well as future states and territories. If a jurisdiction claimed insufficient federal land to fulfill the land grant, the federal government authorized the state or territory to utilize federal lands in other states. Thus, New York State used Wisconsin timberland to fund Cornell University.

Ohio State University was founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and first named The Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, notably Ohio’s ninth higher-educational institution at the time. Its formation had been heavily promoted by Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes, against contrary lobbying by other Ohio public universities, that preceded the land-grant opportunity, namely Ohio University (opening for students in 1809) and Miami University (opening for students in 1824). In 1878, the school name in the charter changed to The Ohio State University to distinguish it from Ohio University.  [Below: National Institute of Food and Agriculture map of land grant colleges.]

 

 

Five.

The research university paradigm was a subsequent iteration of higher education, with the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), the highest academic degree, as the distinguishing feature of the school. German educational reforms, inspired by Wilhelm von Humboldt, were embodied at the University of Berlin in 1810 under its various names before the present one. The Humboldtian model of higher education merged research, study, and education into the PhD and by mid-19th century many of America’s brightest students would go to Germany for PhDs after completing preliminary studies in America. Yale was among the first American schools to give out PhD’s and others followed. The first PhD hired at the University of Michigan was Franz Brünnow, from Berlin, whom President Henry Tappan brought to Ann Arbor in 1854 to deploy the university’s Detroit Observatory, although it was more than 20 years before Michigan awarded its first two academic PhDs. Victor Vaughan, later dean of the medical school, was one of those two recipients, later recalling:

“I had gone to Ann Arbor in 1874 some days before the sessions was to open. I was to work in the chemical laboratory, that was certain, but I wished to enter the graduate school and, if possible, secure a higher degree… In June, 1875, I was granted the degree of Master of Science. I wrote a thesis on ‘Separation of Arsenic and Antimony.’ This was published in the American Chemical Journal… In the fall of 1875 I continued in the same graduate work for the degree of Ph.D. This was the first time that this degree was offered ‘in course’ at Michigan. Hitherto it had been given, if at all, as an honorary degree, but about this time, it appears that the leading universities in this country decided to drop it as an honorary and offer it as a working degree. In this they followed the German Universities… There were two of us, the other being William H. Smith, who had graduated at Michigan and had taught one year at Vassar. Both of us received the coveted honor and entered the Medical School in the fall of 1876.” [Vaughan VC. A Doctor’s Memories. Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, 1926. P. 94-99.]

Vaughan obtained an MD according to Michigan’s original two-year program, which soon thereafter became a three-year and then a four-year curriculum, and in time totally under the charge of Dean Victor Vaughan.

Within a century, a fifth iteration of higher education was evident here at the University of Michigan as well as some other universities that encompass all previous four iterations plus many other public goods and performing arts, including museums, athletic competitions, theaters, musical series, hospitals, health care centers, patent ownership, technology spin-off companies, and commercial partnerships. Most major universities have medical schools and, over time, many medical schools became closely tied to academic health care centers or networks, even fully integrating them as in our case at the University of Michigan.

 

Six.

The Woodward backstory. “‘Futurity,’ epigrammatically says he, ‘is an object of curiosity to all, but in some that curiosity is mingled with hope, in others with fear.’” This quotation comes from a paper called Augustus Brevoort Woodward – a citizen of two cities, and read March 5, 1900 to the Columbia Historical Society in Washington, D.C. by Charles Moore. [Records of the Columbia Historical Society. Volume 4, 1901. p. 116.] The “he” was Woodward, a curious man of obscure origins who became friends with Thomas Jefferson, then a civilian planter and politician in Virginia around 1795. After a contested election in 1796, Jefferson became Vice President under his rival John Adams on March 4, 1797. Woodward, meanwhile, had moved to Alexandria where he invested in property, with an initial $25,000, in the new Federal City. Woodward’s keen interest in government of that city likely transcended his economic interest, as judged by his numerous writings that also included matters of education and science. [Above: Golbez/maps Wikipedia Commons. Below: Judge Woodward, U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration #68586. Woodward Avenue Action Association © 2006.]

Woodward and Jefferson continued their friendship, and after Jefferson won the subsequent presidential election, assuming office on March 4, 1801. Only 19 days later, March 23, Woodward was among the lawyers presenting themselves for admission at the first session of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, in the “half-finished Capital.” In a series of papers related to government of the District, Woodward argued for local representational jurisdiction, but in 1802 Congress allowed only a mayor appointed by President Jefferson and a council elected by property owners. The council would include Woodward.

Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase required new cities, governments, and infrastructure within the Northwest Territory. A Congressional Act on 11 January, 1805, established the Territory of Michigan and required appointment of a governor and three judges. Jefferson named William Hull of Massachusetts as governor and the judges were Woodward, Frederick Bates, and John Griffin, all from Virginia. Woodward arrived in Michigan Territory, on horseback, the weekend after Detroit’s great fire.

Seven.

Woodward and Jefferson had very different personalities, but shared deep interest and expertise in education and in natural history, categorized now as science. The two men were early adaptors of the modern term. Woodward’s interests were expressed most inclusively in his 1816 book, A System of Science, that contained the basis for the University of Michigania, as named in 1817, when Michigan was still a territory. Woodward called the medical branch of knowledge Iatrica, listing its various components in on of the two curious fold-out tables at the end of the book. The grandly-named, but meagerly implemented university opened in Detroit in a modest building, but little record remains of the curriculum and students, except that activity was suspended due to cholera epidemics in 1832 and 1834. [Below: title page of Woodward’s book and fold-out table.]

 

Michigan became a state in 1837 and the University of Michigan moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor in 1838. The medical school didn’t open until 1850, and its official title was The Department of Medicine and Surgery.

 

Eight.

Faculty retention. Astronomy had a big place in the early years of the University of Michigan and its Detroit Observatory, built in 1854, was a marvel of the time. Its first director, Franz Brünnow of Berlin, had met University of Michigan president Henry Tappan who was in Berlin to acquire instruments for the new observatory. Tappan convinced Brünnow to come to Ann Arbor, although factors other than academic opportunity may have been play in the recruitment. Brünnow served from 1854 to 1863, was the first UM faculty appointee with a Ph.D., and married the president’s daughter. University politics, the firing of Tappan by the regents, and anti-German sentiments caused Brünnow to leave for the position as Astronomer Royal of Ireland and director of the Dunsink Observatory. [Above: Detroit Observatory, autumn 2018.]

His successor, James Craig Watson also became a big name in astronomy. Born in 1838, Watson came to Ann Arbor with his family from Fingal, Ontario in 1850, obtained a BA in classical languages in 1857, and then fell under the academic influence of Brünnow, succeeding him as director of the observatory in 1863 until 1878. During those years Watson discovered 22 asteroids, wrote the textbook, Theoretical Astronomy (1868), and was a member of important astronomical expeditions including trips to Iowa to see a solar eclipse in 1869 and China to see the transit of Venus in 1874. During a solar eclipse in Wyoming in 1878 Watson thought he saw planetary bodies closer to the Sun than Mercury and was convinced that a planet, he named Vulcan, existed. He believed that an underground observatory would prove Vulcan’s existence.

Michigan wanted to retain him, but didn’t commit to the odd idea of an underground observatory and Watson left for the University of Wisconsin in 1879 as inaugural director of the Washburn Observatory, with expectations of building the underground apparatus. Watson died of peritonitis, perhaps appendicitis, on November 23, 1880, and was buried in Ann Arbor at Forest Hill Cemetery, leaving a great legacy in astronomy. Vulcan proved to exist only in Star Trek and the underground observatory, built by Watson’s successor at Wisconsin, couldn’t find even the brightest stars and was declared useless. The stories of Brünnow and Watson reveal in academic astronomy, what we know so well in academic medicine: the sky is not always the limit in faculty retention. A lunar impact crater on the far side of the moon is named for Watson and underground detectors recently discovered the neutrino. [Photo below: Watson crater on moon. Acquired by Lunar Orbiter 5, 1967. Lunar Orbital Photo Gallery, NASA.]

 

Nine.

November rain. As Ann Arbor cools down and prepares for Thanksgiving, the month sometimes douses us with sobering realism, a sense captured in the musical ballad of Axl Rose, a work in progress at least since 1986 and released by Guns N’ Roses in their 1991, Use Your Illusion, I. The original album cover by Mark Kostabi evoked a detail in Raphael’s The School of Athens, although to me, the album title and the band’s name are more reflective of several works of Rene Magritte. In the larger sense November Rain, reminds us simultaneously of seasonal meteor showers, the complex nature of humanity, and the sobering reality of global environmental deterioration. The School of Athens detail gives some hope that human intellect, best stewarded in schools and universities, can improve the human condition and lead it forward in some harmony with its resource bank and engine, Earth.

[Above: Raphael (1483-1520) Vatican Collections. Below: detail.]

[Below: Use Your Illusion, I, Guns N’Roses, Geffen Records. 1991.]

[Above: Magritte. The Human Condition, 1933. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Below: Magritte, The Survivor, 1950.]

 

Ten.

Biela’s comet was zipping around Earth for a long, long time before it was identified and named by human beings. Baron Wilhelm von Biela (1782-1856), a German-Austrian military officer who fought in the Austrian Army in military campaigns against Napoleon, provided the name. An amateur astronomer, Biela had a keen interest in comets and sunspots. His comet, 3D/Biela, was recorded as an object in the sky in 1772 by French astronomer Charles Messier, but it was Biela who, in 1826, recognized it as a comet with periodicity of 6.6 years. It was spotted next by John Herschel on September 24, 1832, and calculations indicated that it would pass through the Earth’s orbit October 29, leading to dire predictions of catastrophic collision. Only two other comets had been recognized as periodic at that time, Halley and Encke. Biela also identified the Great Comet of 1823, as did Nell de Bréauté in Dieppe, France, and Jean-Louis Pons working in Italy. Biela’s Comet didn’t crash into the Earth, but rather started to break up before its 1845 return and by 1852 it came back in two large distinct sections, both identified by Otto Wilhelm von Struve, a family name familiar to urologists. [Above: von Biela. Below: drawing of Comet 3D/Biela in February 1846 after split into 2 pieces. 1888 book by E. Weiss, Bilderatlas der Sternenwelt. Sources, Wikipedia.]

The comet pieces were not seen on expected return in 1859 or 1865, but on November 27, 1872 a brilliant meteor shower with 3,000 pieces per hour was seen radiating from the predicted comet position and these meteors became known as the Andromedids, for their position relative to the imaginary Zodiac figure, or historically more precisely as the Bielids.

An intact Biela was making its rounds around Earth when the University of Michigan formed in Detroit in 1817, even if not observed in the sky and recorded by anyone at that particular time, yet shortly after the University Medical Department opened up the comet had been replaced by the Andromedids meteor shower a nightly spectacle of hot November rain witnessed by many if not most Michigan medical graduates over the past 168 years.

 

 

October correction: an earlier edition of October Matula Thoughts mistakenly noted Daylight Savings adjustment would end that month, when in fact it ends this weekend on November 4.

 

David A. Bloom
University of Michigan, Department of Urology, Ann Arbor

October incongruities and congruities.

 

Matula Thoughts 

Oct 5, 2018

October incongruities & congruities.
3813 words

 

One.

October is an odd month, not just with its odd number of days and shortening hours of daylight, but with unpredictable weather shifts including tropical cyclones, the Atlantic hurricanes and Pacific typhoons. Autumn is already in progress and Michigan is fortunate to witness spectacular foliage displays that peak this later this month. October lacks much in the way of major national holidays. Columbus Day, October 8 this year, is observed variably, in some states, Puerto Rico, banks, school districts, the Postal Service, federal and state agencies, but not generalized nationally or celebrated at Michigan Medicine.

Columbus Day had its start when the Tammany Society in NYC and the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1792 celebrated the 300th anniversary of the Columbus landing. A century later, President Benjamin Harrison similarly highlighted the 400th anniversary. Harrison, notably, was the only president (so far) who was the grandson of a president. Columbus Day became a state-level holiday in Colorado in 1907, in 1934 Franklin Roosevelt designated October 12 a national holiday, and since 1971 it has been set on the second Monday of October. The ambiguous details of European “discovery” of America, problematic from the indigenous people perspective, makes it unlikely that Columbus Day will have a long future as a national holiday. Alternatively, Hawaii celebrates Discoverer’s Day and Vermont declared it Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Native American Day is celebrated by California and Nevada on the fourth Friday of September, while in South Dakota on October’s second Monday. Tennessee observes American Indian Day on the fourth Monday of September and other countries in the Americas have their own origin celebrations.

University homecoming events provide other respites in October, although our Urology Department held its Nesbit Alumni reunion prematurely last month, nearly colliding with our biennial Dow Health Services Research Symposium due to coordination with autumn scientific meetings, religious holidays, and the dominating effect of the home football schedule relegating the 2018 Nesbit Meeting to September’s Nebraska game.

October ends with Halloween, an ancient Celtic harvest tradition, now centered on costumed children prowling their neighborhoods for treats, ostensibly as bribes to withhold pranks. Carved pumpkins or turnips become jack-o’-lanterns signaling target-rich households. Pumpkins are more octagonal than spherical to my eye and Halloween face-carving liberates pumpkin fruit for pies and pepita snacks. [Above: Irish Halloween turnip lantern, Museum of Country Life, Turlough Village, County Mayo, Ireland. Courtesy, Wikipedia. Below: October 2, 2018, Dee Fenner and Red Maple tree, outside Dean’s wing.]

 

 

Two.

Recollections of last month include the opening of Michigan Medicine’s Brighton Specialty Center, a large organizational effort led by John Wei, yielding 300,000 square feet of new clinical space. Anne Cameron did three of the first cases in the Brighton Center for Specialty Care operating rooms. [Above: John Wei at pre-opening ceremony. Below: Anne & OR team September 24.]

Our Dow Health Services Research Symposium #4, directed by Chad Ellimoottil and Lindsey Herrel, featured TED-style talks at Power Center.

[Above: Matt Nielsen University of North Carolina with slide congratulating Lindsey and Chad. Below: Greg Auffenberg (Nesbit 2017), Brent Hollenbeck, Chris Saigal of UCLA, Jim Montie.]

The featured speakers and short abstracts and lightning presentations were first rate, including Preeti Malani and Ken Warner (below).

The flying microphone, shown below with Rod Dunn, livened up the atmosphere. Jim Dupree discussed the successful Michigan Urological Surgical Improvement Collaborative (also below).

The following week Chris Sweeney, of Harvard Medical School/Dana Farber Cancer Institute, gave the Jerry Weisbach Lecture, speaking on clinical trial insights regarding prostate cancer heterogeneity. [Below: Chris & Ganesh Palapattu.]

The Nesbit Reunion, later in the week at NCRC (above), featured Toby Chai, Professor of Urology at Yale (Nesbit 1994) as Nesbit visiting professor who gave two excellent talks.

Our own Matt Davenport was the Nesbit guest speaker. John Wei did a superb job, as Secretary-Treasurer, organizing the program and event. [Above: Toby & Matt. Below: John Wei & Sherman Silber N’73.]

Sherman Silber spoke on “Progress making sperm and eggs from skin.” We also heard Kevin Stone and Brian Stork from West Shore Urology. [Below: Dave Harrold N’1978, Surendra Kumar N’81, Dan Piazza N’79, C. Peter Fischer N’79.]

[Below: Utah Pete Fisher N’06 & son Mitch.]

The Nesbit Tailgate entertained alumni and friends from around the country and the victory over Nebraska completed the weekend. Next year, around this time, we will launch the Centennial of Urology at Michigan. [Below top: Meidee Goh, sister Lindee from Boston, husband David Fry; bottom: Yuting Fan, Sherman Silber, David Burk N’89 & brother-in-law Rupert Baily from North Carolina.]

Next year’s Nesbit Reunion, 2019, will open up the year-long Michigan Urology Centennial.

 

Three.

Octopus, octagon, octogenarian, and October come from the Proto-European h₁oḱtṓw stem for eight, an odd fact given that this is the tenth calendar month of the year. How this came to be is a curious quirk of calendar history.

Lunar phases provided the first “calendars” throughout most of human history, marking time between solar days and solar years using the moon’s regular phases. Lunar phases are still essential for fishermen and sailors to predict tides, noting big swings in tidal amplitude during full and new moons (spring tides) and lesser differences during the quarter phases (neap tides). Etruscans and Romans approximated 8-day weeks to lunar cycles to coordinate commercial markets, political affairs, and holidays, although some fudging was necessary each year to match the solar cycle. An early Roman calendar ran from March through December with lunar cycles that filled up 304 days, exclusive of 51 winter days during an “unorganized expanse” of slack time. [Wikipedia entry Nundinae.] The ten calendar months of Romulus were then: Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Iunius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December.

Julius Caesar gave us the Julian calendar, bringing Roman calendar years into closer agreement with solar years. He implemented the new system on January first in a year that he had no way of knowing would be 45 BC. The Julian Calendar offered three normal years with 365 days and an intervening leap year of 366 days, to make up for the inexact match of solar days to solar years. The leap day was doubled every fourth year to maintain solar synchrony, but nevertheless the calendar gradually lost its alignment with the solar year and by the time of Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, the asynchrony had drifted to 10 full days. Lawyer and law teacher in his earlier career, Ugo Boncompagni was summoned to Rome by Pope Paul III and served Paul IV and Paul V before election to Pope himself. His term was one of church reform, largely in response to the Protestant Reformation. [Below: Pope Gregory XIII portrait by Lavinia Fontana in list of extant papal tombs. Wikipedia.]

Gregory XIII refined the Julian Calendar by advancing the calendar that year so that 4 October was followed, the next day, by 15 October and using leap year spacing to make the average year 365.2425 days long. The Gregorian Calendar, fixing the 10-day drift and shortening the average year by 0.0075 days, is widely used throughout the world today for business and government. Because of Gregory XIII, the October of 1582 lacked a 5th day and nine others in between. The credit for the math involved belongs to Aloysius Lilius, an Italian physician and astronomer, and Christopher Clavius, a German Jesuit astronomer and mathematician.

Science has proven the actual length of solar days vary, due to tides sloshing around and slowing rotation of the Earth. The solar year (tropical year) in 2000 was 365.24219 ephemeris days, ephemeris time (ET) being defined by orbital period rather than axial rotation of Earth. The Système International (SI) divides an ephemeris day into 86,200 SI seconds. For most landlubbers lunar phases have limited utility, although they still show up on modern wrist watches, that keep us on time.

 

Four.

The regular weekly focal point of our department is 7 AM Thursday, regardless of month, when residents and faculty assemble for conferences where each summer a tide of 4th year medical students begins as rotating “clinical clerks” begin to audition for residency training slots. Students spend a month with us in clinics, hospital rounds, operating rooms, and then make individual presentations at Grand Rounds, having been directed and mentored by residents, fellows, and faculty. The tide recedes when nationwide formal interviews begin in October. [Above: Thursday 7 AM conference.]

Out of around 340 students who apply, around 20 clinical clerks, and 47 who interview, we will match 4 students who will spend their next five years or more with us. The candidate pool is very strong academically and in terms of individual personalities, life experiences, drive, and talents, these students are the best of the best of medical students. The proof is seen in our residents.

It is a tough time to be a medical student and entering medicine. Most students have accumulated egregious debt in the form of student loans. This fact is a black mark on our society. There is little excuse for a large medical school tuition bill, students create enough personal debt with living expenses alone during medical school. Society, particularly that of advanced industrialized nations, can afford to teach its next generation of health care workers. As it is, young doctors spend large fractions of their income paying back their debt (with interest) to banks and other funding sources – money that they would otherwise pump back into the economy through local stores, car dealers, home purchases, and Amazon. Philanthropy too would be served because former trainees in their first years of practice would be more likely each year to give a hundred bucks or so to the institutions that taught them (and even to the Nesbit Society), thus developing “a habit of giving back” rather than trying to stay afloat in the tsunami of educational debt.

The uncertainty of health care economics adds to the difficulty for students, and massive regulatory changes coming from the federal government place academic medicine and all of health care at risk, perhaps the greatest risk in our time. Yet, all times have been tough, and many of the best and brightest people continue to choose medical careers.

 

Five.

Political campaigning heats up in October with elections next month for governor, state legislators, other regional officers, one third of the US Senate, and the US House of Representatives. Voter turnout in the US tends to be around 58% of eligible voters in national presidential election and 40% in mid-term elections. Even less turn out in odd years, primaries, or local elections, indicating that Americans take the responsibility of democracy far too lightly. This fact should disturb us at least as much as the idea of foreign governments messing with our processes (that’s what rough opponents do – so why are we surprised and apparently so defenseless?) Below is a chart from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Our predecessors worked hard and against odds to create a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The Declaration of Independence is a beautiful and aspirational document that explains why people should be entrusted to their own destiny, The Constitution creates a working framework for government, and its Bill of Rights presents a list of individual protections from authority (with some nonsense that politics mixed into it). A greater cynic might argue, given the voter turnout data, that today’s citizens are not working hard enough to protect foundational elements of western society.

On the other hand, deception has its moments and admits many self-serving hucksters and bad actors to the corridors of power. Voters are often attracted to bright shiny celebrities, single issue extremists, or deceptive campaigns. Trickery is part of the human confection, one classic example being the Trojan Horse of Homer’s stories, although new technologies magnify the possibilities of deception and crowd manipulation. Technology aside, our society has failed to properly educate an informed citizenry capable of critical thinking. Biologic trickery takes many forms, and the octopus is one of the most versatile masters, using camouflage, mimicry, threat, shape-shifting, and environmental opacification. While octopi (scientific order Octopoda) may be the biologic champions, humans are good learners.

[Jens Petersen. Image of greater blue-ringed octopus, Hapalochlaena lunulata. Tasik Ria, North Sulawesi, Indonesia GFDL license. Wikipedia.]

 

Six.

Octoberfest. Beer and political campaigning mingle in October. Octoberfest, as a celebration, dates back to 12 October 1810, when citizens of Munich attended festivities around the royal marriage of King Ludwig I to Princess Therese. Münchners, Munich’s community-folk, gathered peacefully to drink beer, watch horse races, and enjoy a day off work, unless they were helping with the crowd, distributing the food and beer, or organizing the races. Civilization requires organizers, workers, and leaders.

Octoberfest has spread around the world as a respite from routine of work and a chance to celebrate as a community. For some people this is simply an excuse to drink beer, but others enjoy some civic sensibility. Beer and other spirits may help navigate the politics that necessarily attend all communities and the periodic stress of politicking to elect around 500,000 state and national public officials.

Leadership is an unfortunate necessity of human affairs, and over the course of documented history it is evident that most leadership has been self-serving, foolish, and extended the sum total of human misery. Nevertheless, seven billion humans need forms of leadership to organize sports, workplaces, community events, local governments, geographic regions, religions, and nations.

The U.S. Congress on 23 January, 1845 passed “An act to establish a uniform time for holding elections of President and Vice President in all the States of the Union.” The Tuesday after the first Monday of November was selected and that date continues to this time. Federal elections occur only in even-numbered years, and presidential elections take place every four years. October, the heaviest month of campaigning, is exhilarating for many people as evidence of the aspiration of “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Election day is a public holiday in some states and territories, but not Michigan. November 5 is our next election day.

 

Seven.

October fiction. October Country, the name of a 1943 Ray Bradbury collection of stories, conveys a sense of the oddness of October. The introductory “mini-story,” The Grim Reaper, in the modern paperback version, is a stark commentary on modern humankind in the mid-20th century. [Bradbury. The October Country. Del Rey Ballantine Books, NY. 1996.]

Bradbury used the title, The October Country, as a metaphor for that time of the year when people and places become melancholy with thoughts and preparations for winter. His dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, imagines the dark winter of an authoritarian society where free speech no longer exists. The 1966 Francis Truffaut film version with Julie Christie was a classic in its own right. Bradbury (1920-2012), along with Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clark, Robert Heinlein, and Stanislaw Lem carried science fiction into the literary mainstream according to a 2012 obituary [Gerald Jonas, NYT, June 6, 2012.]:

“The futuristic world envisioned by Bradbury among others is coming fast upon us, compelled by the erosion of democracy and the ascendency of technology. We not be able to curtail the latter, but we should be shamed by our pathetic efforts as a species to build and disperse democratic institutions and human rights.”

Machine-learning algorithms, even those multi-layer “neural” networks capable of “deep learning,” in my opinion can ever equate to human intelligence. Programs and systems are built by people susceptible to particular ideologies, biases, “isms,” greed, and other intoxications that plague everyone and their clever systems invariable reflect some, but not all particularities. These algorithms are already in play in our lives and will become increasingly pervasive with autonomous capabilities in many sectors of our lives, however we must be cautious of accepting artificial intelligence (AI) as a substitute for human authenticity. How can AI distinguish between fact and true facts, given the mutability of fact and truth and their continual arbitration, in “real time,” by human values, science, and consensus? A cynic might argue that AI shouldn’t be expected to distinguish between facts and true facts if most humans can’t do so.

Ian Fleming’s final James Bond book, the 14th in the series, Octopussy and the Living Daylights, was a collection of short stories published posthumously in 1966, originally with just those two stories, but later including The Property of a Lady and also 007 in New York. The first story and provided the backstory for the film Octopussy, with Roger Moore in 1983. A pet octopus, owned by the villain, give that story its name and elements of the other stories found their way into other Bond films.

 

Eight.

October tides. Back in the times of the earliest wine and beermakers, days were defined by sunrises and sunsets, tides and lunar phases framed the weeks, and sun and star positions marked out months and years. It must have taken a leap of faith for early thinkers to convince themselves that something as far away as the moon could physically move the massive oceans of earth, but the tidal relationships to moon and sun were recognized as early as the second century BC by Hellenistic astronomer Seleucus of Seleucia who linked tides to lunar position, with height of tides depending on the position of the moon relative to the sun.

Tide tables were made for tourists in China in 1056 so that they could coordinate visits to the legendary tidal bore of the Qiantang River. Due to the mismatch in size between the Hangzhou Bay and Qiantang (Tsientang) River, this daily occurrence with 30 foot tides moving at 25 mph, can double in size when the moon and coincidental typhoons align. This has been celebrated for thousands of years during the 8th month of the lunar year, known as the Mid-Autumn Festival. [David K. Lynch. Scientific American. January, 1982. Alan Taylor. The Atlantic. Sept. 20, 2016.]

Newton may have been deemed a tidal bore when wrote the essay Discourse on the Tides, in 1616 in a letter to Cardinal Orsini and later used calculations and his theory of universal gravitation in Principia in 1687 to explain the tidal influences of sun and moon. Great Lakes tides at their greatest reach 5 centimeters, although much larger standing waves called seiches, caused by wind and atmospheric pressure, are mistaken for tides.

 

Nine.

Tecumseh, Harrison, and the Battle of the Thames. The Thames River in Ontario comes to mind in relation to a famous Native American who died on this day, October 5, 1813. We have many referrals for patient care from our neighboring town, Tecumseh, and while I vaguely recognized this as a Native American name, I knew little until I looked it up and learned this day is the anniversary of a battle in 1813 when Chief Tecumseh was killed at the age of 45. An American Shawnee, he was born in Ohio Country and he grew up amidst the American Revolution and the Northwest Indian Wars. He became a great leader, compelling orator, and staunch advocate for tribal unity.

Tecumseh’s War in Indiana Territory between his American Indian confederacy and the U.S. began with a confrontation in 1810 at Grouseland, the home of William Henry Harrison, governor of the territory. Conflict continued with a defeat for the multi-tribal confederacy at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, and spilled over into the War of 1812 after Tecumseh formed an alliance with Great Britain that helped capture Fort Detroit. After the fledgling U.S. Navy gained control of Lake Erie in 1813, the British and multi-tribal confederacy retreated into Canada, where American Forces engaged them at the Battle of the Thames (also known as the Battle of Moraviantown) and Tecumseh was killed.

[Above: Tecumseh, attrib. Owen Staples. Toronto Public Library. Below: Tecumseh’s War map by Kevin Myers, Wikipedia.]

[Below: Battle of Tippecanoe. Alonzo Chappel Collection, Smithsonian Institute.]

With the death of Tecumseh, the confederacy collapsed and Detroit returned to American control, where only four years later the University of Michigan would be established. Most native Americans were eventually pushed west of the Mississippi.

Harrison considered Tecumseh remarkable, once calling him a genius. With soaring popularity after the War of 1812 Harrison became U.S. House Representative in 1816 and Senator in 1825, truncated by appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary to Gran Columbia in 1828. He returned to private life in Ohio at his farm, but was prompted to make a few runs for presidency, ultimately winning and becoming ninth American President in 1841, the last president born before the Revolution.

Harrison’s term was short-lived as Harrison was sworn in on 4 March 1841 and died of pneumonia a month later. Vice President John Tyler assumed office, but a constitutional crisis concerning succession lingered for more than a century until resolution by the Twenty-fifth Amendment of 1967. Tyler was the son of Founding Father Benjamin Harrison V and the paternal grandfather of 23rd U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, who nationalized Columbus Day.

It might be argued that the choice of our ninth president was a risky one from the point of health vulnerability, at age 68 he was the oldest sworn into office until Ronald Reagan in 1981 at 69. On the other hand, far younger presidents and major political leaders have been cut short by disease or assassination, so perhaps age should be a minor consideration for long range leadership. Representative democracy seems a far better method of leadership selection than royalty, birthright, or sectarian succession, but genetics (or epigenetics) always seems to be lurking behind the scenes as the American presidency has shown through Adams, Harrison, Roosevelt, and Bush.

 

Ten.

Octopus traps and Halloween spiders. Matula Thoughts often seeks threads or themes, sometimes risking belaboring a point or putting too fine an edge on a detail, such as comparing pumpkins to octagons, or relating October to medicine. Of course, October 16, 1846 was the first demonstration of general anesthesia.

A stretch to the octo stem brings in Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a non-ischemic heart crisis of sudden temporary weakening of the muscle also known as stress cardiomyopathy, transient apical ballooning cardiomyopathy, or the broken heart syndrome, and leading to acute heart failure, lethal ventricular arrhythmias, or ventricular rupture. Most cases (85%) are set in motion by severe physical or emotional distress that causes myofibrillar degeneration. The first studied case was by Sabo et al in Japan, reported in 1991, and the name came from the traditional octopus traps used by Japanese fishermen, setting them out when the tides were favorable. [Yoshihiro YJ, Goldstein DS, Barbaro G, Ueyama T. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Circulation. 118:2754, 2008.] [Below: octopus traps, Wikipedia, public domain.]

Octopi aside, eight doesn’t have a heavy presence in biology, Stedman’s Dictionary expends barely a half a page to words beginning with oct. Although spiders and ticks (larger category = class, Arachnida) have eight legs, octo hasn’t tainted their names. Spiders rank seventh in species diversity among all organisms, with nearly 90,000 species compared to 300 species of octopi, and our single human species. Spiders (biologic classification order, Araneae) have enormously complex genomics and have a universal ability to make silks and venoms. [Pennisi. Science. 358:288, 2018.] Spiders scare kids and are completely congruous with Halloween, so be prepared with shock, awe, and a basket of treats when permutations of 8-legged creatures knock at your door at the end of this month. [Below: Marvel Spider-Man symbiote suit.]

 

Thanks for reading Matula Thoughts.
David A. Bloom
University of Michigan, Department of Urology, Ann Arbor

September skies and serendipity

Matula Thoughts Sept 7, 2018

September skies and serendipity
3662 words

 

One.

Intersecting contrails caught my attention, looking out from the Mohs Surgery area (above) in our Rogel Cancer Center, and recalled the clear skies of September 11, 2001, when commercial air traffic was grounded, leaving a pristine and surreal atmosphere visually and psychologically. Transient evidence of people in aluminum tubes flying through the sky, contrails are daily proof of the enormous planetary human impact. New technology, such as the flightradar24 app that Bob Gibbons showed me in Seattle last spring, gives rough details of a particular flight if you aim an iPhone at a plane in the sky. Below, taken from the Amana Colonies in Iowa last month, is evidence of Delta 3882 Canadian Regional Jet going from Minneapolis to St Louis on July 27, containing anonymous people, particularities, and myriad stories going about their business in the midwest.

September is a transition month, as summertime vacations give way to serious business of autumn. In the Medical School, academic medicine takes center stage when fall meetings convene and new ideas get shopped around world marketplaces of research, education, and clinical care. Faculty become traveling salesmen and saleswomen not only for their ideas, but also for their presentation skills, and the University of Michigan brand in general. Trainees follow in those footsteps, adding to the thousands of Michigan people shuttling around in the skies at the vanguard of contrails, studying and rearranging PowerPoint presentations on laptops. Key meetings for our faculty this fall include the Society for Urologic Oncology, the American College of Surgeons, the North Central Section of the AUA (our Gary Faerber – now at Duke – is the President), and the Society for Pediatric Urology.

 

Two.

Rene Magritte, an artist who lived in and through the disruptions and transitions of 20th century World Wars, offered an intriguing view of Homo sapiens and earthly skies in two paintings he called The Human Condition. No one can know for certain what he had in mind with these, although the title hints at the rich imagination, ambiguities, illusions, and contradictions of human nature. Probably no other species looks to the skies and finds as much “content” as we do. Other life forms may, at best, derive some practical information regarding sunlight, time of day, precipitation, danger, or opportunity, but H. sapiens looks at the sky with its clouds and contrails, and builds rich imagination from excited neurons.

[Above: The Human Condition 1933. Below: The Human Condition 1935.]

Euclidean Walks, a later Magritte painting from 1955, pursues the same idea of a painting within a painting, that is, an imagination of imaginations, joining my and your imaginations to those of a Greek philosopher nearly 2.5 thousand years ago (below).

 

Three.

A picture is said to be worth a thousand words. The original author of this thought is unknown, although it is likely that similar thoughts spontaneously popped into many human brains over the millennia since the early times of cave art. We all appreciate the qualitative truth to this phrase, but Isaacson’s book Leonardo da Vinci, offers data to support that truth, at least within an order of magnitude. A chapter on The Nature of Man, discussing human proportion, states:

“Using at least a dozen young men as models in his Corte Vecchia studios, he measured each body part from head to toe and produced more than 40 drawings and six thousand words.” [p. 219]

That is, Leonardo used six thousand words to consider 40 pictures, giving a word to picture ratio of 1:150, surpassing conventional wisdom of 1:1000 for the average picture. Granted that he wasn’t necessarily describing all the details of each of the pictures, as merely talking about them, but data is data so you can take what you want from the numbers. Later in the book, Isaacson quotes Leonardo from a debate in 1498 on the relative merits of arts and sciences.

“If you, O poet, tell a story with your pen, the painter with his brush can tell it more easily, with simpler completeness, and less tedious to follow. Take a poet who describes the charms of a woman to her lover, and a painter who represents her, and you will see where nature leads the enamored critic.” [p. 262]

Mona Lisa (above, at the Louvre) is the obvious picture to accompany that thought.
Words are magical finite bits of information, but a single picture conveys a multitude of information, open to vast possibilities of imagination by any one individual and leaving other vast possibilities potentially detectable by someone else. While words and pictures may have had common origin in human history, visual art has extended from the representational to the abstract and Eric Kandel explains how our brains process these two different art forms in quite different ways. [Kandel. Reductionism in Art and Brain Science, Columbia University Press, 2016.]

 

Four.

 

The contrails reminded me of the acid-base balance curves I studied as a medical student, becoming nearly indelible in my brain, needing occasional refreshment for board exams and teaching sessions. Horace Davenport (1912-2005), renown physiologist and legendary historian of the University of Michigan Medical School, pioneered the modern understanding of acid base chemistry with those curves [Davenport HW. Danish M. Bull. 1955, The ABC of Acid-Base Chemistry, University of Chicago Press, 1974.] [Austin WH. Acid-Base balance. Amer. Heart J. 69:691, 1965.]

Horace was an iconic professor here at UM Medical School. He rose to the top of his field as a physiologist and was an inspiring classroom teacher. During his early career, at the Mayo Clinic, he defined the gastric mucosal barrier, working with Charles Code, and in 1947 his ABC text translated mysteries of basic physiology into working knowledge for generations of medical students and clinicians using those contrail-like curves. [Davenport HW, University of Chicago Press, 1947.] The ABCs is still in print with the original preface, admonishing students to work hard if they are to achieve understanding:

“Unfortunately, there are no effortless roads to a knowledge of acid-base chemistry, and there are no easily memorized rules-of-thumb that can be applied at all times in the clinic without risk of disaster.”

After Davenport stepped down as Michigan’s chair of physiology he became unofficial historian for the Medical School, providing a book for the sesquicentennial. [Davenport HW. Not Just Any Medical School. 1999.] I came to know Horace through the Victor Vaughan Society and its periodic dinners of medical students and faculty. Horace was unusually tall and in his later years when the occasion met at our home I would cautiously walk him out over our uneven steps and dirt road to his car, concerned for his unsteady gait. We remained in touch throughout his retirement. At one point (June 3, 1998) he wrote me from Alabama:

“I am living in my wheelchair in complete physical, social, and intellectual isolation and with rapidly increasing disability in what is essentially comfortable prison. I try to keep occupied.”

If my small collection of his neatly typed letters is any indication, he seemed to have kept reasonably well occupied for the next seven years of his life. [Obituary by Ivan Oransky. The Lancet. 366:1260, 2005.]

 

Five.

Two Horaces. Horace Davenport was a perfectionist and an exacting teacher. His son, Robertson Davenport and UM Professor of Pathology, kindly sent me the portrait shown above. I recall one episode of my instruction from Horace after I sent him recent work we had published on Trendelenburg, a paper that sprang from a discussion with medical students regarding the German surgeon and informed by an obscure autobiography (translated from German to English) we obtained from an Egyptian library (the beauty of inter-library loan!). Our paper detailed urological contributions of the great German surgeon that had not been widely appreciated. [Bernstein et al. Beyond the Trendelenburg Position. Surgery. 126:78, 1999.]

I thought we had done a good job of scholarship and must have been hopeful for Horace’s praise when I sent him a copy. He replied, after offering some personal news:

“I have only one comment on your Trendelenburg paper, and that is to protest the customary misuse of the word serendipity in the first paragraph. A Chicago lawyer named T.G. Remer became so annoyed that he wrote an entire book on the word: Serendipity and the Three Princes, Norman, OK. University of Oklahoma Press, 1965. I urge you to read the book which is in the Graduate Library. With best regards, Yours, Horace.” [Letter. August 24, 1999.]

Months later I went to the library, checked out the book, and read it. Horace was correct, having instructed me once again on many levels.

Remer had a compelling interest in this 14th century Persian fairy tale that had been translated into Italian and published by Michele Tramezzino in Venice in 1557. English art historian Horace Walpole (1717-1797) created the word serendipity based on a detail in the story in which the three princes discerned the nature of a lost camel through “accidents and sagacity.” Walpole no doubt had read Tramezzino’s version of the “silly fairy tale,” as he called it in a letter on January 28, 1754, when he originated the neologism. [Wikipedia, The Three Princes of Serendip.] Remer commissioned an English translation of the Italian story and included it in his book, a lovely a tour-de-force and obvious labor of love. The point Horace Davenport wanted me learn for myself was that serendipity has two necessary elements: luck and sagacity, or good fortune and wisdom, depending on how you phrase it. He was rightfully offended when I used the term as a mere synonym for dumb luck and I doubtless offended the spirit of Horace Walpole as well. [Below. Horace Walpole by Sir Joshua Reynolds. 1756. National Portrait Gallery, London.]

 

Our Medical School Center for the History of Medicine has a yearly Davenport Lecture that featured many superb speakers over the years including Abraham Verghese, Catherine DeAngelis, David Oshinsky, and Sherwin Nuland. The speaker next spring remains to be determined.

 

Six.

Art & medicine notes. Somewhere recently I came across the phrase “human confection” and wish I could recall the source. Perhaps it was in a newspaper or magazine, but it seemed an interesting conjunction. At first thought, confection indicates a sweet food item, perhaps visually decorative as well, but the meaning goes deeper and traces back to Middle English confescioun, coming from old French confeccion, and derived from Latin cōnfectiōnem meaning “to make” or “to prepare” or “to do.” Modern usage, aside from food, pertains to the process or result of preparing or making or composing things, things that may be elaborate, amusing, delicate, or possibly contrived. This is an almost uniquely human range of possibilities, so it seems that human confection fits nicely. Perhaps this is even better than the phrase human condition, that more or less merely indicates a particular state of being. H. sapiens are singularly distinguished by the range of things they do, physically, mentally, and trans-generationally.

Artists usually tell something of themselves and the world through their work. Some produce skillful representations of the real or imagined world. Others produce representations of their personal feelings. Some offer work of little immediate meaning to a viewer but, on inspection and with some effort, that work can provoke thought and interpretation, delivering valued personal meaning. Both art itself, as a generality, and medicine, as a term for health care delivery at large, are genuine human expressions of caring, opinion, belief, and observation. Both are human arts applied on a canvas of technology.

Artificial intelligence is a mildly offensive term, since intelligence is a wide-ranging biological phenomenon, and taken to entirely different dimensions of imagination by human brains. Humanism, naturally, is part of that imagination: we can imagine a better world that is kinder, safer, happier, and more sustainable than the world of yesterday and today. Self-learning algorithms can’t quite do that. We can make devices that could produce a Piet Mondrian or Jackson Pollock type of work, but those works would be devoid of the human context of the artists.

What people experience as a physician’s art is made better by the evidence physicians assemble and by their sense of humanity, evolving with their careers and growing with immersion in the soup of human culture, to use the term from Dawkins.

 

Seven.

West Shore Urology (WSU) in Muskegon became a part of Michigan Urology only ten months ago and on my visit there last month it was nice to see the Block M logo on the sign in front and on the lab coats of the team. The photos at the front of the clinic show founder Tom Stone and the original partners, along with the current team, although the newest member, Adam Walker, needs to appear on the wall. [Below: clinic wall and Adam & Jaclyn Walker with Malissa Eversole at AUA Nesbit reception, 2018.]

 

We incorporated the excellent WSU faculty in our Urology Department and also acquired its clinical team and facility as a new Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU), but it is unique among the other 180 plus ACUs of Michigan Medicine in that it does not have the HOPD designation that confers payment advantages to ambulatory units unattached to hospitals. At first glance this may seem to have been an odd business decision for us, but this opportunity will force us to learn how to make clinics work in a health care world that is likely to dissolve the HOPD advantage.

[Above: WSU office staff Tracy Dinh, Jessica Phelps, Bre Rodgers, Michelle Halldorson, Gabby Perez. Below: Cris Bench, Brian Stork, Carrie Brown.]

Brian Stork, beekeeper and urologist, was in Ann Arbor just last month to give a Grand Rounds presentation linking work force burn-out to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). It was at his instigation that I found myself stopping for lunch, the next day, in the Amana Colonies, after I happened to fly into Iowa, explaining the contrail shown earlier.

In between WSU and Ann Arbor is Metro Health Hospital in Wyoming, Michigan, south of Grand Rapids, and shown above shortly before a rainstorm last month. Metro Health became a part of Michigan Medicine in January 2017, and like our partnership in Muskegon, it is a part of an essential regional network. Peter Hahn was recently named CEO at Metro. Nearly all of our fellow health systems and academic medical centers in the state and nation have been networking vigorously in their regions and beyond for the past 2 decades, although we, at the University of Michigan, have been late to the process, but we are catching up. Our regional growth is sometimes viewed unhappily by other health care systems, but such is the nature of healthy competition. All patients need regional alternatives to find the right care at the right time and in the right place that best fits their individual particularities. Sometimes that best fit is with Michigan Medicine, sometimes it is not.

[Above: Joint Venture ceremony last month with David Miller, Rob Casalou President and CEO Mercy Health & St. Joseph Mercy System, Travis Souza, Dave Spahlinger, Alon Weizer, Denise Gray-Felder.
Below: Richard Gilfillan CEO Trinity Heath, Nancy Graebner President & CEO St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, David Miller, Donna Lasinski Michigan State Rep 52nd District.]

Last month we (Michigan Medicine) finalized a joint venture with St. Joseph Mercy Health System Chelsea Hospital. It has been implemented with Family Medicine, Surgery, Gynecology, Ophthalmology, and Urology. Michigan Urology has a long history with Chelsea Hospital. Howard Usitalo and C. Peter Fischer are Nesbit alumni (1986 & 1979) with deep roots in the hospital and community, now joined by Andre King  and Dave Lutchka PA. Mike Kozminski from our department has held a Saturday morning clinic at Chelsea for the past 4 years.

Anticipating the joint venture, Will Roberts’ Endo-urology/stone division has been active with a percutaneous renal unit aligned with Radiology and Casey Dauw has been a consistent presence in. that effort for much of the past year, along with Alon Weizer from our Uro-oncology division.

 

Eight.

Visiting professors enrich teaching programs with new ideas, novel techniques, and different teaching skills. They challenge us with new facts and ideas, and their presence builds new connections and collaborations. When accompanied by a partner they show, by example and in conversations, how work life and personal well-being through family are negotiated – and this is especially important to our trainees and younger faculty.

Visiting professors also cost money and take time out of the working day, so we must carefully balance the academic and clinical missions against the economics of an academic medical center. A supportive departmental working culture, excellent health care system leadership, and a strong philanthropic base make this balance not only possible, but robust for us.

Mahesh Desai, a world-class urologist from Gujarat, India, was in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago to visit our department, meeting residents and younger faculty, and giving Grand Rounds before heading to Chicago for the DUST Course #4 organized by Khurshid Ghani and Will Roberts. It’s good to know people around the world like Mahesh. A number of years ago I got a call from one of our Engineering School faculty members who was on an academic trip in India and had colic from a kidney stone. An easy phone call then connected me to Mahesh and the Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital in Nadiad, a hospital he founded with Dr. V.V. Desai. Our engineering colleague professor quickly had a solution in hand. [Above: from left, Dr. Desai & his nephew Udhav Doctor, Priyanka Gupta, Khurshid Ghani, James Tracey, Ted Skolarus, Ed Kleer, Will Roberts, Ganesh Palapattu, Mahendra Bhandari. Below: Thompson]

Our Health Services Research Symposium will reconvene this month. Chad Ellimoottil and Lindsey Herrel have organized this with 22 speakers at the Power Center September 13-14.  [www.hsrsymposium2018.com]

We alternate the McGuire and Montie visiting professorships each year. Two years ago the Jim Montie lecture featured the extraordinary Ian Thompson. This October Dave Penson will come from Vanderbilt as the Montie Professor. [Below: Dave & Jennifer.]

 

Nine.

Elusive evidence. With September, summer 2018 recedes in the rearview mirror, its pleasures having vastly outnumbered its minor annoyances, such as pesky mosquitoes, no-see-ums, houseflies, ticks, and other bugs. Even so, a recent article and letter to the editor in JAMA grabbed my attention and introduced me to the BUGG Trial. Acronyms abound in medicine, but clinical trials have taken them to a new level of silliness. Benefits of Universal Glove and Gown is the name for this trial, reported in an article by Harris et al (JAMA 310:1571, 2013), that investigated antibiotic-resistant bacteria acquisition in intensive care units.

The letter-to-editor and a current paper questioned the evidence for either employing or discontinuing contact precautions (CP) for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE). [Letter: AB Kressel. JAMA. 320:407, 2018; Article: Rubin, Samore, Harris. JAMA 319:883, 2018.] The letter makes the important point that contact precautions convey significant burdens of material costs, time of multiple implementations, and wear and tear on the workforce. While contact precautions seemed a reasonable solution for a difficult problem, its self-righteous standardization may well provide not just “no value added”, but an even worse effect of value subtracted from the health care equation. Kressel notes:

“Inaction is not the only response to the status quo in the absence of strong evidence. In the case of CPs for MRSA or VRE, it may be reasonable for each institution to make a choice based on local hand hygiene, MSRA, or VRE rates, use of chlorhexidine bathing, and use of single-occupant patient rooms.”

This last point hits close to home. First, single-occupancy patient rooms are implicit in the standard of hospitals in the industrialized world. Our local exception to this is most peculiar. [Simon et al. J Health Serv Res Pol. 21:147, 2016.] Second, the world-wide craze for hand sanitizers is, it seems to me, a nearly fraudulent alternative to simple hand washing, provided clean water and soap are available. The popular hand sanitizers have strong effects on the normal microbes of our microbiome and environment, but virtually no help with killer spores and mixed effects with viruses, some being inactivated while others are not. The visual theater of hand sanitization on entering patient spaces brings comfort to audiences, but the display tends to bug me if there is a sink nearby.

 

Ten.

Summer nostalgia. September Song was written for the 1938 Broadway musical Knickerbocker Holiday, and resuscitated for the 1950 Hal Wallis film, September Holiday, and again in the British sitcom May to December that ran from 1989 to 1994. Ezio Pinza, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Patti Page, Eydie Gormé, Pat Boone, Dean Martin, Jimmy Durante, James Brown, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Willie Nelson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and many others have recorded this classic. Of course, with only 12 monthly names to inspire music and movies, it’s no surprise that September gets recycled, currently in a new September Song written and sung by JP Cooper.

Kurt Weill composed the music and Maxwell Anderson wrote the lyrics for the classic September Song, a tune produced rather hastily for the musical production Knickerbocker Holiday in 1938. The song was made specifically for the “gruff voice and limited vocal range” of the lead actor, Walter Huston, who was playing the aged dictator Peter Stuyvesant. [Wikipedia.] While the Broadway musical confection lasted only 6 months, the song has been remarkably durable and it is the Jimmie Durante version (first recorded 1955, album 1963) that I particularly favor, perhaps most resembling the original version in character. The actual content of the lyric and musical is twofold and dark: the specific story of forced marriage of a young woman to an elder tyrant while she loves another younger man, and the general metaphor of the September of our lifespans as framed by the monthly calendar.


 

CORRECTION: Last month’s What’s New/Matula Thoughts contained an egregious error (corrected in updated versions), where I misspelled the name of one of my favorite authors, the extraordinary John McPhee. My apologies to you and to him. It’s not so much that I blew the fact as that my brain and keyboard translation fumbled, as seemingly happens sometimes in this September of my career. Perhaps this is a new disorder one might call dystypia, a fumble less infrequent than revealed by these edited pages.

 

Best September wishes,
David A. Bloom
University of Michigan, Department of Urology, Ann Arbor