Health & Healing

From the history of ancient healers to modern medical breakthroughs, discover what researchers are learning about health, disease, and the human body. 

December 1, 2016

Metabolism: The Google Maps of Cancer Research

When you hear the word "metabolism," what do you think about? Thanks to the groundbreaking work of chemist Gary Patti here at Washington University in St. Louis, instead of diet or weight loss, we think: "possible cure for cancer." Patti explains how metabolism is like Google Maps, helps us understand the emerging field of metabolomics, and shares the challenges and promise of metabolism research.

November 9, 2016

A Chemist's Quest for New Antibiotics

World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2016

Remember the last time you were sick and your doctor gave you antibiotics? What might have happened if those drugs didn't work? As antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread around the world, this scenario is much more than a "what if." The World Health Organization calls antibiotic resistance "one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today." To mark World Antibiotic Awareness Week, chemist TIm Wencewicz explains how we got here, why big pharmaceutical companies are neglecting the problem, and what his lab is doing to solve it. 

September 14, 2016

Milk at Altitude: Exploring Health in the Himalayas

Milk at Altitude: Exploring Health in the Himalayas
Scientists agree that breast milk is good for babies, but E.A. Quinn believes there's a lot more to learn. Join Quinn on a recent research trip to a remote valley in Nepal, where she works with community partners to understand the health of mothers and infants under extreme conditions. How is human milk different in the Himalayan highlands than in the United States? What can these differences reveal about what moms and babies everywhere need to be healthy? Hear Quinn describe her fieldwork, what she's found out so far, and why she's so fascinated by this "incredible fluid." 


September 7, 2016

Eating Organic in Nazi Germany

Eat plenty of raw vegetables. Avoid preservatives. Breads should be whole grain. These may sounds like words of advice from your local natural foods store, but starting in the 1930s, the same messages were systematically spread throughout Germany by the Nazi party. Historian Corinna Treitel shares the story of the Nazis' obsession with natural foods, and discusses how their ideas about nutrition compare with how we think about food and health today. 

August 31, 2016

Breaking Down Persistent Myths About Eating Disorders

Breaking Down Persistent Myths About Eating Disorders
Treated for her first eating disorder at 11, Rebecca Lester, now in recovery, studies these conditions as an anthropologist and psychotherapist. She breaks down the most persistent eating disorder myths that pervade popular culture and the very system that is supposed to provide care for sufferers. She also shares her hope for the future of eating disorder treatment and advice for those who want to help.

August 24, 2016

The Philosophy of Cancer

In 2009, Anya Plutynski - a historian and philosopher of biology - was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite all of her experience with scientific research, Plutynski struggled to fully understand her disease. How do scientists and doctors define cancer? Why are some screening and treatment options recommended over others? When and how do values enter the picture? In this episode, Plutynski shares her story, her opinions on ongoing debates over breast cancer screening, and ideas from her forthcoming book Explaining Cancer: Philosophical Issues in Cancer Causation, Evidence & Explanation.

August 17, 2016

Pain: A Cultural History

When we think about pain, most of us think of doctors or medicine, but Javier Moscoso has a different perspective. As a professor of history and philosophy of science at the Institute of History at the Spanish National Research Council, he studies the cultural history of pain, and specifically how representations and even the experience of pain have changed over time. Equal parts philosophy and history, Moscoso invites us to see pain as a social experience that comes with moral and ethical dimensions as well.

August 3, 2016

Galen and the Elephant's Heart

What can an ancient debate about an elephant tell us about the history of medicine? To find out, step into the life and times of Galen of Pergamum. Though his name is not commonly recognized today, Galen's writings influenced medical theory and practice for centuries. Luis Salas studies Greek and Roman medicine and philosophy, in particular the works of Galen. Here, Salas shares a fascinating and revealing story about Galen, his rivals, and the heart of an elephant.