Scholarship

Protest in fron of the Supreme Court. The posters on display say: "Reform can't wait" and "Universal healthcare"

“Race, Place, And Structural Racism: A Review Of Health And History In Washington, D.C.”

February 8th, 2022

Dr. Christopher King and his co-authors do a historical review of policies, practices, and events that have sustained systemic racism on the health of the United States. It focuses on Washington, D.C.—a city with a legacy of Black plurality — , while also reflecting on the national landscape, policies and events that socially, economically, and politically disenfranchised Black residents, yielding stark differences in health outcomes among Washington, D.C. populations.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep book cover

“Physicians in the Digital Age”

January 15th, 2022

Dr. Daniel Marchalik and Dr. Edward Melnick look at what Philip K. Dick’s dystopian novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? can teach us about AI & medicine.

“Balancing Act: Precision Medicine and National Security”

December 30th, 2021

James Giordano and Diane DiEuliis describe current scientific and technological developments in precision medicine. They assess the risks of using these tools and capabilities to exert disruptive influence upon human health, economics, social structure, military capabilities and global dimensions of power.

“Syndemic Theory, Methods, and Data”

December 14th, 2021

Emily Mendenhall, Timothy Newfield and Alexander Tsai introduce an Special Issue of Social Science & Medicine, focused on Rethinking Syndemics through time, space, and method.

Illustration o the iconic Great Gatsby's eyes wearing gold frame glasses

“The Great Gatsby and the Challenge of Unreliable Narrators”

July 17th, 2021

Dr. Daniel Marchalik and Dr. Matthew W. McCarthy tackle the enduring literary debate on the reliability of Nick Carraway, the narrator of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, to answer the question of how do clinicians balance the importance of believing what patients say with the need to be discerning critics?

A woman carries a large jug of water through Gado refugee camp

“Introduction: Migration and Health in Social Context”

April 7th, 2021

Emily Mendenhall and Seth M. Holmes introduce the BMJ Global Health journal’s issue on “Migration and Health in Social Context”, focused on the social, political and economic structural factors that impede or facilitate health among the most vulnerable migrants seeking care from clinical settings globally.

Graffitti covering map of Washington DC. The graffitti shows the icon of Donald Trump three times, the hair color of the first is yellow, of the second red, and the third green. Under each, the word "lies" is written. Underneath appears the word "Covid!"

“On Symbols and Scripts: The Politics of the American COVID-19 Response”

March 19th, 2021

Emily Mendenhall and her co-authors argue that, to unravel the American COVID-19 crisis —and to craft effective responses—, a more sophisticated understanding of the political culture of public health crises is needed. According to the researchers, the social processes of meaning-making help explain the evolution of increasingly partisan public health discourse regarding topics like masking and institutional trust. They consider how and why certain issues gain political valence, and what opportunities certain acts of politicization provide in shifting public discourse.

“A Spectrum of (Dis)Belief: Coronavirus Frames in a Rural Midwestern Town in the United States”

February 9th, 2021

Emily Mendenhall and her co-authors investigate how society in rural America reacted to the coronavirus outbreaks of 2020. Without government COVID-19 mandates, conflicting moral beliefs divided American communities. Social fragmentation, based on conflicting values, led to an incomplete pandemic response in the absence of government mandates, opening the floodgates to coronavirus.

“’Thinking Too Much’: A Systematic Review of the Idiom of Distress in Sub-Saharan Africa”

January 2nd, 2021

In this systematic review, Emily Mendenhall and her co-authors take a look at the idiom “thinking too much”. This idiom is employed in cultural settings worldwide to express feelings of emotional and cognitive disquiet with psychological, physical, and social consequences on people’s well-being and daily functioning. The researchers analyze how, where, and among whom this idiom is used within varied Sub-Saharan African contexts.

Visual representation of a human figure made up of viruses. There are two text boxes. Top: Sickness in the room was oppressive. Bottom: I found myself thinking about miasma theory

“Medical Humanities in a Pandemic: Essential and Critical”

November 9th, 2020

Dr. Lakshmi Krishnan and Dr. Anna Reisman account for the invaluable insights that the humanities offer the biomedical sciences during the COVID-19 pandemic, as a means of examining themselves, their profession, and the broader social context.

“Past Pandemics and Climate Variability Across the Mediterranean”

September 19th, 2020

Timothy Newfield and his co-authors explore potential associations between pandemic disease and climate in Mediterranean history. They make sense of the influence that meteorological, climatological and environmental factors had on historical disease outbreaks.

Dr. Lakshmi Krishnan, Dr. S. Michelle Ogunwole and Dr. Lisa A. Cooper in a video presentation of their Annals of Internal Medicine article "Historical Insights on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, and Racial Disparities: Illuminating a Path Forward".

“Historical Insights on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, and Racial Disparities: Illuminating a Path Forward”

September 15th, 2020

Dr. Lakshmi Krishnan, Dr. S. Michelle Ogunwole and Dr. Lisa A. Cooper examine the racial health disparities in the historical arc of the 1918 influenza pandemic. This examination provides a understand critical structural inequities and health care gaps that have historically contributed to and continue to compound disparate health outcomes among communities of color.

“Metabolic Reflections: Blurring the Line between Trauma and Diabetes”

August 24th, 2020

Emily Mendenhall argues for clinical studies of diabetes to recognize the impacts of chronic stress and trauma on metabolism. In her anthropological research, she has identified how lines between trauma and diabetes are blurred and violence and subjugation may irreversibly impact metabolism, even across generations. Thus, changes to diet and exercise alone will not solve the global and local undercurrents of the diabetes epidemic.

Blindness book cover

“Seeing COVID-19 through José Saramago’s Blindness”

June 20th, 2020

Daniel Marchalik and Dmitriy Petrov propose an approach to the novel Blindness, which would allow us to process the emotional devastation, socioeconomic impacts, and pressures on front-line health-care workers that continue to shape our world.

“Practicing Serious Illness Conversations in Graduate Medical Education”

June 3rd, 2020

Dr. Michael Pottash and his co-authors address the lack of routine practice opportunities in medical training to have a serious illness conversation, including discussing patients’ expectations, concerns, and preferences regarding an advancing illness. By testing incorporating a serious illness conversation into routine trainee practice, they found that trainees found it to be an important addition to their routine practice. Patients found the conversation to be important, reassuring, and of better quality than their usual visits.

Illustration of a young woman lying on the ground (maybe dead), crowd of people staring at her. Footnote: "A Vampyre, A Vampyre"

“Physicians, Oaths, and Vampires”

September 21st, 2019

Dr. Lakshmi Krishnan and Dr. Daniel Marchalik analyze John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819). They assess the power of oaths, looking at the physicians’ burnout derived from the Hippocratic Oath.

Portrait of Dr. Paul Gachet by Vincent van Gogh

“Physician Burnout in the Modern Era”

March 2nd, 2019

Dr. Daniel Marchalik looks at physicians’ professional stress through a historical lens. By examining different historical moments —from 19th century accounts of the “distinguished success” to “scandalous misconduct” of medical apprentices, to the 1970s advances in our understanding of burnout—, he considers the effects of the new wave of modernization on physicians.

“Malaria Vaccine Trials in Pregnant Women: An Imperative Without Precedent”

February 4th, 2019

Although pregnant women are highly susceptible to Plasmodium falciparum malaria, leading to substantial maternal, perinatal, and infant mortality, no trials of malaria vaccines have ever been conducted in pregnant women. This publication, co-authored by Maggie Little, resulted from the discussions held at an expert meeting convened in December 2016 at NIAID, NIH, in Rockville, Maryland to deliberate on the rationale and design of malaria vaccine trials in pregnant women.

“When We Document End-of-Life Care, Words Still Matter”

September 21st, 2018

Dr. Hunter Groninger and Anne M. Kelemen highlight the findings of the study “Language Used by Health Care Professionals to Describe Dying at an Acute Care Hospital”, and how providers’ discomfort in employing clear, direct terms when talking about dying can have unintended consequences, such as miscommunication, and missed or delayed opportunities to engage in the grieving process.

“Post-Transplantation Palliative Care: Misconceptions and Disincentives”

January 15th, 2018

Dr. Michael Pottash argues for the value of providing palliative care to transplant recipients, which faces two major barriers: misconceptions about the goals of palliative care, and the quality care outcome measures that have the unintended consequence of disincentivizing its routine use.

“The Return to Literature—Making Doctors Matter in the New Era of Medicine”

December 14th, 2017

As medicine faces rapid changes in our current era, which include the widespread use of artificial intelligence, it is also expected for the nature of physicians’ jobs to change, as well as medical education. Dr. Marchalik explores the innovative approach of the Literature and Medicine Track of the Georgetown University School of Medicine, and suggests ways in which literature could be used to prepare future doctors for the evolving demands of the medical field.

Collage of post-its under the title "Diagnostic tools". The post-its say "There's too much jargon and no one to explain", "Suggestions/consulting leaves me confused", "Internet tools symptom/disease tools scare people, they always think they have the worst/least likely disease", and "Who to go to -correct level, -expertise, -self-service triage"

“Poor Prognostication: Hidden Meanings in Word Choices”

April 21st, 2017

The absence of a standardised language to express prognostic information can be a barrier for providing realistic information to patients and their families. The team of researchers that includes Dr. Michael Pottash and Dr. Hunter Groninger surveyed a random sample of internal medicine attending physicians and residents to better determine perception of word choice related to documentation of patient prognosis and hospice eligibility in the medical record.