William C. Boyd.
Perhaps a list of his partial accomplishments will demonstrate:
- Boyd wrote the first textbook of immunology.
- Boyd discovered the blood type specificity of many lectins.
- Boyd coined the word 'lectin.'
- He was one of the first 'paleoserologists', using lectins to trace the blood type distributions of many populations around the world. Boyd was the first to document that blood group substances could be recovered intact from physical remains of graves, such as from mummies.
- With Isaac Asimov, he wrote a book for the general public which was one of the first to attack the notion that race was a scientific fact.
- He developed antibody techniques, such as precipitation and flocculation, and applied them to blood group serology.
- He was among the first researchers to recommend the use of magnesium salts in the immediate aftermath of heart attack.
- Boyd wrote some pretty good science fiction (under the name "Boyd Ellanby" ).
Every time I venture into something, be it ABO blood group immunology, lectins in foods, anthropology, and a slew of immunology techniques, this guy was there first. It's a pity nobody really knows about him.
Best serologist, ever.
Here are the .mp3 audio transcript and .pdf handout for the lecture that I gave at the 2008 New York State Naturopathic Association Conference. The audio is rather large for the Internet (40 mb), so be patient:
The handouts are in the form of a Adobe Acrobat file (pdf) so you can work through the lecture exactly as it was presented.
If you right-click and choose "Save As" you can download the files to your hard drive. If you find this information interesting, consider burning the lecture and handout files onto a CD and passing it along to friends and colleagues.
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.
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.