Stay tuned for a major announcement concerning IfHI 2007:
We have just received confirmation that one of our featured speakers will be Professor of Medicine Gerhard Uhlenbruck from the University of Cologne. Dr. Uhlenbruck will be joining an international faculty of experts including Dr. William Mitchell (Washington, USA), Dr. Thomas Greenfield (Kent, UK), Dr. Walter Crinnion (Arizona, USA), Dr. Emily Kane (Alaska, USA), Dina Khader (New York, USA), Dr. Erika Klus (Minnesota, US), Dr. David Bove (Oregon, USA) and myself.
Dr. Uhlenbruck is a legendary figure in lectin and blood group research. His seminal work has led to the discovery of new and novel lectins (such as peanut agglutinin) and the characterisation of lectin activities and antigen specificities (the chemical structure of T antigen was established in 1969 by Prof. Uhlenbruck and his colleagues). You can not read any modern textbook on lectinology or immunology without encountering Dr. Uhlenbruck's research legacy.
(photo from 'Lectins", Second Edition, by Sharon and Lis.
"From Fast Food to Fast Feet and from General Feeding to Individual Food."
You will not want to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to meet such an important figure. Thanks to IfHI fellows Cocky van Hesteren and Isa-Manuela Albrecht for initiating the the European contact and to Martha D'Adamo and Carol Agostino for the follow-up.
We now have the full IfHI 2007 conference website up and functional. However, we are probably close to half-booked to capacity, so if you didn't add your name to the preregistration list and you are planning to attend, you probably should think about registering ASAP.
Decided to take a break from working on the final third of The Genotype Diet and post a little blog. I've been almost addicted to getting this manuscript as informational as possible, but also trying to skirt a thin line between being too technical as to off-put people who want to try it but are easily frustrated by complexity. To that effect I've be so indebted to many of the wonderful mathematical tools which have been so helpful in allowing these true genetic archetypes to emerge from the hue and cry of all the conflicting information that we hear of when we read about the risk factors or diseases linked to single genes.
Unlike most other diet books, including those that I have written in the past, this system is quite flexible. Over time, and with proper catalysts, it is actually possible to transition from one series of food recommendations into another, hopefully passing the improvements onto subsequent generations as well. I think this is probably the greatest breakthrough with the GTD concept: that genetics and environmental influences can point the way to a ever improving and evolving diet rather that just function as a simple deterministic tool with no beginning, middle and end.
It will be nice to get this book monkey off my back and get back to life as other people know it. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It has been a wonderful process of discovery and I'll look back on this last year as one of the more fruitful and rewarding in recent memory. But deadlines are deadlines. I'm dreaming about putting a new ceiling in the laundry room and doing a bit of sheet rocking there as well. Anything other than something having to do with computers!
The Holidays were quiet and homespun â€“just the way I like them. Did a lot of group cooking and menu planning.
Tomorrow and Friday I do what are called "Satellite Radio Toursâ€? to mark the tenth anniversary of the publication of Eat Right for Your Type. What happens is they connect you by phone to various AM radio stations, one right after the other, during the morning drive time and you go on for about 5-10 minutes, after which they move you one to the next station. You do it for about four hours, starting first on the East Coast and working, as with the sun, westward. It grueling, but infinitely better than the dreaded "Author Toursâ€? of years gone by. Some people like that kind of stuff. Not me.
Martha gave me a fascinating book called "The Demon Under the Microscope" by Thomas Hager. It is the story of the discovery of the antibiotic properties of the Sulfa class drugs by the chemists a Bayer in the period between the wars. Great book if you like history with a bit of good science writing thrown in as well.
Was saddened to hear of the death the great Joseph Barbera who with William Hanna produced all those great Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 1960's, friends to all kids of that age home from school with with measles, chicken pox and head colds. My favorite was "The Flintstones", a very droll paleo-suburban take on "The Honeymooners" which featured my favorite cartoon bit character, "Joe Rockhead."
Rockhead's entire role usually consisted of dancing an exhausted Wilma around the room as his feet created this almost electron cloud of activity ---all the time repeating "I'm telling you Wilma, Fred won't be back for at least an hour."
Perhaps the reason Joe Rockhead is not better known is that Hanna-Barbera drew him differently in every episode he appeared in. This is the only know picture of him on the internet:
Well, that's it for now. Stay warm and safe.
Our friend Cathy Rogers called last night with the sad news that Dr. Bill Mitchell passed away the night before in his sleep. Apparently his son Noah had died of a heart attack in the arms of his girlfriend that same day, and what I knew of Bill he was just the sort of person who could die from a broken heart.
My earliest memories of Bill are the first flurry of days after my transfer to Bastyr College, in 1978. I had to interview with a board member, and so it was to Bill's office on Queen Ann Hill in Seattle Washington that I journeyed. After waiting what feel like an interminable time, out he came, wearing Birkenstocks, which I had never seen before (remember this was 1978), and could not imagine anyone would wear these to work. He was talking to the patient who had just seen him and he kind of hugged/slapped them on the back, saying he was so happy that everything had worked out for them, and if there was anything else they needed, they should feel free to call. The look on his face was a mixture of illumination and joy; that look you sometimes see on a person's face when they suddenly realize that they are doing the right thing, in the right place, at the right time.
Bill was our botanical medicine instructor. His classes were always one of the most interesting, since he had literally inhaled the work of John Bastyr and many of the other great naturopaths who were now passing into old age.
Since there were no student loans at the time, I had to work many different jobs to pay for room and board. One of these was as a roving â€˜insurance examiner' that involved visiting a person's home and doing a few perfunctory type examinations, plus some urinalysis. During my first week, I received a ticket to visit the home of a certain William Mitchell who was applying for insurance. "No.â€? I said to myself, "This can't be Bill.â€?
It was hard to decide who was more uncomfortable: The wooly herbal jazz guitar playing mountain man or the lanky East Coast SONO city-slicker still trying to adjust to a new life in the laid back Pacific Northwest. We eventually got through the exam, but not before Bill offered to taste the urine to check for diabetes, and pronounced its smell "satisfactory.â€?
Years passed, and I next saw Bill at one of the Naturopathic Conferences in the late 1980's that I presented for. There he was, in the first row, scribbling notes at a furious pace. Then at one point I looked at him and he looked at me. He had that same exact expression on his face, except this time it was the look of a teacher, watching as one of his students goes forth into the world.
Over the years we've kept in touch, usually through third parties, who had come out of school after me and had been regaled with â€˜Mitchellology' a blend of wisdom, hominess and extra-dimensional space-time travel. When it was time to draw up the speaker roster for IfHI 2007, he was at the top of my list. We will fill the slot that was for Bill, but it won't be Bill, and IfHI 2007 will be a bit sadder for me.
I've oftened wondered about the practicality of having a full time practice, in addition to the writing and the research. Very few major physician authors continue to practice, perhaps out of a fear of possible greater legal exposure, or the lack of time, or maybe they just never really enjoyed it that much. I enjoy meeting people and especially have liked working with and teaching the new doctor preceptors that have been a constant part of the clinic this year. Most of the naturopaths that I personally admire are practitioners, not researchers or authors.
William Osler put this funny relationship into proper perspective when he wrote:
"He who studies medicine without books sails an uncharted sea, but he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all."
I like to read history and I'm fascinated by immunology, so how cool is it when you get a book as a gift entitled The History of Immunology?
Arthur M. Silverstein's meaty little volume for Academic Press (1989) does a very nice job of taking the reader through the myriad of ancient, medieval and renaissance concepts of immunity, including the Hippocratic and Aristocratic 'humors'; the very astute observations about smallpox by the Islamic physician Rhazes; iatrophysics and much more. I was surprised to discover that Cotton Mather, well know inquisitor of witchcraft in colonial New England, was an avid reader of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London and very much up to date with Jenner's discoveries about the ability to immunize against smallpox with the milder cow pox organism.
On Rhazes' observations, it's surprising (if still largely unknown) that the 9th and 10th century Muslim world was the scientific powerhouse of the day, producing profound discoveries in anatomy, pharmacology and physiology (often in concert and synergy with Jewish intellectuals) at a time when Northern Europeans were still crouched around smokey fires in mud hovels. Hopefully, one of these days, the current anti-intellectualism fad will give way to a reawakening of these latent talents.
And finally, how the debates between the 'cellularists' and the 'humorists' divided along nationality (French versus German) in the quiescent period between France's humiliation at the end of the Franco-Prussian War and their repayment of the favor in 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles. "It is worth noting", wrote Otto von Bismarck after the Franco-Prussion War, "That a generation that receives a beating is almost always followed by a generation that gives one."
A fact seemingly lost on many of today's political leaders..
The German camp, led by such famous scientists as Robert Koch and Rudolph Virchow, favored the 'cellular' theory i.e, the white blood cells munch up all the bad guys. Their observations eventually became the basis of Cell Mediated Immunity The 'humorists', mostly French and led by Metchnikoff and Pasteur, viewed the serum factors as being decisive, and their observations eventually became the basic of Humoral Immunity.
So they were both right.
Yet it tells much about the respective variations in national conciousness at the time. The Germans tended to view the immunological battle field as a mano-a-mano 'Test Of Will'. Us against them. The inevitable struggle. The more policemen the better. The French, on the other hand, tended to see things in terms of milieu: fixable with a change of wallpaper or a fresh coat of paint.
There are many more arguments ahead in upcoming chapters; for example whether antibodies bound one antigen (monovalent) or two (bivalent). These guys almost always had 3-4 different possible ways something could happen, and definitely enjoyed tearing into each other!
Sort of like Vanity Fair for the Nobel Prize set.