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Winter Recess and Reopening Plans

December 16, 2020 - 11:01am by John Gallagher

Yale University will be on winter recess from December 23 – January 3. The medical library will offer limited services through email on December 24, 26, 28, 30 and January 2. In addition, there will be StatLab consultation hours during the break, shown on the StatLab calendar.  Please send questions or inquiries to AskYaleMedicalLibrary@yale.edu during this time. Visit this page for information about other Yale library reopening plans. Please continue to monitor our website for the most up-to-date information. The medical library will reopen to users authorized to be on campus on January 11, 2021. Beginning January 11, our hours will be: Monday - Friday: 7:30am - 6:00pm Saturday - Sunday: Closed We will be closed January 18th for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Holiday Pet Photos

December 15, 2020 - 2:35pm by Dana Haugh

To celebrate the holiday season, we asked our staff to send in their best holiday pet photos! Please enjoy this collection of furry friends in their holiday best. WINNER: "Best Christmas Fren"  Name: Ashley  Breed: Border Collie/Cho mix  Age: 10 yrs  Best gift: Stuffed animals  Human: Terry Dagradi WINNER: "Best Sweater"  Name: Ben  Breed: Handsome  Age: 9 yrs  Best gift: Catnip-filled fishy  Human: Dana Haugh WINNER: "Best Patient Dog Look"  Name: Buster "Bud Spud" Norton  Breed: Mutt  Age: 6 yrs  Best gift: Dental sticks  Human: Melanie Norton WINNER: "Best Underbite"  Name: Charlie  Breed: Shih tzu/Lhasa apso mix  Age: 11 yrs  Best gift: All the greenies  Human: Lindsay Barnett WINNER: "Best Sugarplum Fairy"  Name: Charlotte  Breed: Pembroke Welsh Corgi  Age: 13 yrs  Best gift: Smelly fish treats  Human: Judy Spak WINNER: "Best Fluff"  Name: Hamilton  Breed: Blue Russian mix  Age: 3 yrs  Best gift: Cat treats  Human: Dorota Peglow WINNER: "Best Action Shot"  Name: Jinx  Breed: Mixed  Age: 13 yrs  Best gift: A can of dog food  Human: Lindsay Barnett WINNER: "Best Santa Hat"  Name: Kilar  Breed: Orange Tabby  Age: 13 yrs  Best gift: Cat treats  Human: Dorota Peglow WINNER: "Best Serious Pupper Face"  Name: Lulu  Breed: Rescue  Age: 7 yrs  Best gift: A box of any kind  Human: Laura Miller WINNER: "Best Yeti Impression"  Name: Molly  Breed: Magical mystery rescue  Age: 10 yrs  Best gift: A hedgehog or lambchop toy  Human: Caitlin Meyer WINNER: "Best Knitwear"  Name: Pumpkin  Breed: Cat  Age: 5 yrs  Best gift: Mittens to match scarf and hat  Human: Holly Grossetta Nardini  

Welcome to new staff who joined the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library in 2020!

December 11, 2020 - 5:41pm by Melissa Funaro

The library welcomed two new staff members this year. Zsuzsa Nemeth joined us as Head of Clinical Research and Education in November 2020. Zsuzsa leads a team of librarians and is dedicated to providing support to clinical departments at Yale New Haven Hospital. She comes from the University of Miami where she had a similar role, plus experience at the Miami VA Hospital and as a clinical coordinator in a research lab.  Learn more about the team of Clinical Research & Education librarians: https://library.medicine.yale.edu/services/clinical Courtney Brombosz joined us as a Research and Education Librarian in February 2020. Courtney primarily supports students in the Yale School of Medicine and runs the Personal Librarian Program. She is also a member of the clinical team. Learn more about the Personal Librarian Program  

The Medical Library Book Tree

December 4, 2020 - 11:22am by Dana Haugh

It's the holiday season and that usually means our staff is busy decorating the library and building our beloved book tree. Stationed in the Historical Library reading room, the book tree comprises anywhere from 450 to over 600 volumes of the National Union Catalogue (last year's tree was particularly rotund). A team of energetic staff volunteers to transport, organize, and arrange the heavy volumes during the day-long process, jumping in and out as schedules (and strength!) permit. It's the perfect way to burn off those extra Thanskgiving calories! While we'll miss building a tree this year, we hope you'll enjoy these time-lapse videos of previous book tree builds. 2016 Book Tree 2017 Book Tree 2018 Book Tree  

Newly acquired trove of historic photos captures evolution of medicine

December 2, 2020 - 3:06pm by Melissa Grafe

Written by Patricia Carey | First published on YaleNews In one image, a physician injects a Civil War veteran with morphine, a common practice that led to widespread addiction after the war. In another, a gold-framed daguerreotype from 1847, an unconscious patient sprawls on a white-draped table, surrounded by men in frockcoats and cravats, documenting one of the earliest uses of ether in operation. Then there’s the haunting postmortem photograph of a 22-year-old physician who died caring for patients in an 1849 cholera outbreak — a poignant reminder of the risks medical professionals are facing today. These are just some of the 15,400 photographs in a unique collection recently acquired by the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale that documents — in black-and-white and sometimes graphic detail — a history of medicine from 1839 to the 1970s. Among the library’s largest and most notable acquisitions to date, the collection both celebrates the evolution of medicine and bears witness to untold human pain and loss. The Stanley B. Burns M.D. Historic Medical Photography Collection includes images of physicians and medical scientists at work, operation rooms, hospital wards, laboratories, nurses and nursing, notable physicians, surgical specialties, and war medicine. There are also thousands of photos of patients and disease states. The collection is notable for its range of forms, including photo albums, framed photographs, publications, cartes de visite (small photos mounted on cardboard), cabinet cards, postcards, and personal collections assembled by noted physicians. Virtually every format is represented, including boxes of lantern slides and 253 unique daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes from the earliest years of photography. “The Burns Collection is one of the most compelling and comprehensive visual records of medical history ever assembled,” said Melissa Grafe, the John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History and head of the Medical Historical Library, the medical library’s special collections repository. “From early depictions of surgery to profoundly personal family images and photo albums, it shows how deeply medicine is interwoven in human lives.” The collection’s photographic albums, some assembled by physicians, bring alive important chapters of medical history, such as the conquest of yellow fever in Cuba in 1904, the international response to the pneumonic plague epidemic in China in 1911, and facial reconstruction at Walter Reed Army General Hospital documented by medical photographer Alice Becht in 1920. “Turning the pages of these albums, I am often struck by how visible the patient is, providing some window into past lives and, in some ways, human suffering,” Grafe said. “At other times the collection is a celebration of medicine, highlighting surgical moments and medical techniques that we may take for granted today.” The wide range of materials complements many of the library’s existing collections, including striking images of mental illness published in the “Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière”; thousands of photo-postcards and other images that make up the Robert Bogdan Disability Collection; and more than 100 iconic portraits of Civil War soldiers. Other materials in the Burns Collection document the development of medical education. Bound volumes of Dr. Howard Kelly’s “Stereo-clinic,” for example, contain thousands of photographs of landmark operations performed by noted surgeons between 1908 and 1918. When viewed through a stereoscope, the photographs provided step-by-step 3D views of the procedures and were used to teach other surgeons. “The Burns Collection is a major milestone in a decade-long strategic effort to expand the library’s holdings of highly visual materials,” said John Gallagher, the Medical Library’s director.  “We are so eager and excited to have researchers, both here at Yale and beyond, explore this truly unique and rich visual collection.” Ophthalmologist and medical professor Stanley B. Burns, the collection’s creator, began collecting medical photography in 1975, choosing to focus on an area that until then was largely ignored. Over four and half decades, he amassed more than a million images, filling his New York townhouse and a second home with binders, boxes, and bins with labels as broad as “Nursing” and as specific as “Railway accident wounded treatment.” As a foremost expert on medical historical photographs, Burns has published widely; curated and consulted on exhibitions; and advised hundreds of films, TV series, and documentaries. Among his engagements was providing photos to an art historian seeking to show that Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” was inspired by women with destructive facial syphilis. Along with the collection’s move to Yale, Burns has endowed a library fellowship to support research in the collection and related holdings of the Medical Historical Library — a gift that aims to ensure scholars will continue to make discoveries in the collection. “I have spent 45 years building an unequalled resource for understanding the origins and evolution of medical photography and exploring the history of the human relationship to disease and medicine,” he said. “I am thrilled that my collection will be preserved, appreciated, and studied for the long term at Yale.” The Burns Collection is being processed and evaluated for conservation and preservation needs; initial records are available in Orbis and Archives at Yale. As time and resources allow, portions of the collection will be digitized and made available online.

The “Great Risk” of “Opium Eating”: How Civil War-Era Doctors Reacted to Prescription Opioid Addiction

December 1, 2020 - 10:50am by Melissa Grafe

Written by Jonathan S. Jones The U.S. Civil War (1861-65) sparked a massive epidemic of opioid addiction among those who fought and survived the bloody conflict. The war mobilized millions of soldiers, hospital workers, and freedom-seekers, bringing people into contact with unfamiliar microbes, insects, and animals. This mass movement of bodies and pathogens resulted in extreme outbreaks of measles, smallpox, typhoid fever, and other deadly, terrifying diseases. Brutal technological innovations like the Minié ball caused ghastly, agonizing wounds, and men who survived often spent the rest of their lives in chronic pain. Military surgeons tasked with patching up wounded soldiers and treating the sick had their jobs cut out for them. Often-times army doctors were simply civilians pressed into service by circumstance, and they fell back on fundamental therapies to mitigate sickness and suffering. Opiates, the most common medicines in antebellum America, thus became defensive weapons in Civil War’s medical arsenal, “important to the surgeon as gunpower to the ordinance,” according to one military medical handbook. Opium pills, morphine injections, and laudanum (a blend of opium and alcohol) were some of the Civil War’s most widely used medicines. Opiates were marvelous painkillers—morphine and synthetic opioids are still standard palliatives today—and the medicines were also surprisingly useful for suppressing symptoms like diarrhea and coughing. Civil War armies could not have functioned without opiates, which surgeons doled out widely during and after the war to ailing soldiers. Opiates are addictive, however, and doctors’ prescriptions all-too-predicably led to addiction for Civil War veterans. Not only was opiate addiction dangerous and unhealthy, resulting in thousands of overdose deaths between the 1860s and the early twentieth century, but the condition was also deeply stigmatized in Civil War America. Most Americans considered addiction to be an unmanly and immoral vice. Addicted veterans deserved punishment, not sympathy, according to contemporary observers. Consequently, addicted veterans faced terrible outcomes, a theme I explore in a recent journal article investigating the experience of opiate addiction for veterans. Naturally, many addicted veterans blamed the doctors who first introduced them to opiates. But how did doctors react to veterans’ blame? Did they reject charges of culpability, or admit that prescriptions lay at the root of Civil War America’s opioid crisis? Did the crisis affect how doctors practiced medicine, and if so, what did any changes mean for the course of American medicine? These are questions I address in my book manuscript, “Opium Slavery: Veterans and Addiction in Civil War America,” which is based on my dissertation (Binghamton University, 2020). In 2020-21, as a postdoctoral fellow at Penn State’s Richards Civil War Center, I am revising my book for publication. My research for this project benefited immensely from a Ferenc Gyorgyey Research Grant awarded by the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library in 2018-19. The library’s inimitable collection of nineteenth-century American medical records provided a major component of my evidentiary base, allowing me to investigate how the Civil War veterans’ opiate addiction epidemic refracted into medical practices and thought in the late-nineteenth century U.S. In particular, the Medical Historical Library holds incredibly rare clinical records that provide insights into how the Civil War-era opioid crisis altered the fundamentals of medicine, like prescribing patterns. As I argue in my book, American physicians were deeply troubled by prescription opium and morphine addiction among veterans. Doctors were widely blamed for causing the post-Civil War opiate addiction epidemic by overprescribing opiates, and this blame was dangerous for physicians, who had a perilous position in the extraordinary competitive Gilded Age medical marketplace. The nineteenth-century American medical marketplace was remarkably democratic, and sick people could turn to a bewildering array of medical practitioners for health care. Throughout the Civil War era, physicians struggled to outcompete sectarian practitioners, patent medicine sellers, and so-called “quack” doctors. Something had to be done about prescription drug addiction, many physicians worried, because the problem threatened the profession’s reputation and commercial standing. Consequently, I argue, during the 1870s and 1880s, ex-military surgeons—men like Jacob Mendes Da Costa of Philadelphia’s Jefferson Medical College—urged their colleagues to prescribe opiates sparingly, thus creating fewer cases of opiate addiction. Not to be overlooked, this shift away from opiate medicines was a radical reversal of nineteenth-century American therapeutic practices, which relied heavily on opiates to treat all manner of ailments. Da Costa was a former Union army surgeon famous in his day for conducting research on cardiac distress among Union army soldiers and veterans. In an influential 1871 medical journal article, Da Costa urged his colleagues to refrain from prescribing opiates to men suffering from chronic pain, warning that there was “great risk of making the patient an opium eater”—a dual risk for patients' health and physicians’ reputations.  I suspected that Da Costa, for his part, practiced what he preached. That’s what brought me to Yale’s Medical Historical Library. Considering his firsthand knowledge of addiction, I wanted to investigate how Da Costa’s prescribing patterns might have differed from his peers in reaction to witnessing addiction among soldiers. After the Civil War, Da Costa set up shop in Philadelphia, where he taught clinical medicine at Jefferson Medical College. At Yale during the spring of 2019, I quantified Da Costa’s patient records from the Jefferson Medical College’s public teaching clinic in Philadelphia. They document the medical histories of thousands of individuals suffering from a wide variety of painful conditions. The records include detailed prescriptions, and a sample of 1,945 cases dating from October 1870 to October 1875 indicate that Da Costa and his trainees prescribed opiates to just 371 patients, or 19%. By comparison, Yale historian John Harley Warner has found that about 42% of prescriptions from a comparable public hospital in Boston during the 1870s contained opiates—more than double the rate of Da Costa’s Philadelphia clinic. In other words, Da Costa and his medical trainees relied much less heavily on addictive opiate medicines than their contemporaries. Considering Da Costa’s vocal warnings about prescription opiate addiction—knowledge he gleaned by observing addicted Civil War soldiers and veterans—the Jefferson Medical Clinic records reveal that the Civil War veterans’ opiate addiction epidemic had important ripple effects on American medical practices. Opiate medicines, long-time staples in the doctor’s black bag, soon declined precipitously in American medicine. As I argue in my book, ex-army doctors like Da Costa, who were alarmed by veterans’ prescription opiate addiction, led the movement away from opiates. The research that led to these surprising findings would have been impossible without a Ferenc Gyorgyey Research Grant from Yale’s Medical Historical Library. By facilitating access to Da Costa’s rare clinical records, the grant played an essential role in my dissertation research and ongoing book project. About Jonathan S. Jones Jonathan S. Jones is the inaugural Postdoctoral Scholar in Civil War History at Penn State’s George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center in 2020-21, where he is currently preparing a book manuscript on opiate addiction in the Civil War era for publication. The project is derived from his dissertation on the same topic, defended at Binghamton University in June 2020. Jonathan’s recent publications include an article in The Journal of the Civil War Era’s June 2020 issue titled “Opium Slavery: Civil War Veterans and Opiate Addiction.” After Penn State, Jonathan will be joining the Department of History at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) as an Assistant Professor starting in August 2021. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @_jonathansjones or at jonathansjones.net. 

Attention: No Bioinformatics Office Hours on Nov 5th, 2020

November 3, 2020 - 2:50pm by Nur-Taz Rahman

We are sorry to inform you that the Bioinformatics Support Office Hours are canceled for 5th Nov, 2020 (Thursday). We apologize for causing any inconvenience. We are hoping to resume our regular office hours on the 12th of Nov., 2020.    In the meantime, if you have urgent questions regarding Bioinformatics Analysis, please reach out to us at nur-taz.rahman@yale.edu or rolando.milian@yale.edu.       
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