Thursday, 1 August 2013

Ology of the Month - Medicine and Health

I’ve been trying to think of an ology that sums up all of the scientific areas I want to cover this month, but couldn’t think of one. There are plenty of ologies that cover parts of it – human biology, immunology, virology, psychology, pharmacology – but it would have been a cluttered title. I think the words I’ve chosen sum up everything. What I’ll leave for now, however, is AIDS research and the development of its drugs and treatment. They will be covered n December.

So this month is all about the sciences that keep us alive and healthy – everything from drugs to diet, and from microbes to musclemen.

You’re probably thinking to yourself “what has bodybuilding got to do with science? It’s a sport”. And quite right, but when you think about it bodybuilding relies these days on the right combination of diet and exercise, and the careful measurement of what goes into the body. Some bodybuilders prefer to use drugs to achieve the look they want. What has been increasingly more important in recent decades is the emergence of sports science and technology. This is the same with all sport. There’s a team of doctors and technicians behind every successful athlete.

I’ll be looking at bodybuilding in a more general way (unfortunately, no bodybuilders have volunteered to let me have a closer look!) and look at the male body and why European cultures have placed such a high value on good body image – from the ancient Greek male beauty contests to this week’s Mr Gay World contest at the World Outgames.

The main purpose for Ancient Greek men to perfect their body was as an act of devotion to Apollo, god of sport. He was also god of medicine, thereby uniting all 3 disciplines into 1 – muscle worship, sport and medicine.

To cover the medical sub-theme of Doctors and Nurses I’ll be having a look at several medical practitioners with lgbt connections. These will include Florence Nightingale, Sophia Jex-Blake and Tom Waddell – and I’ll expose some myths surrounding one of them! I’ll also be looking at the Extraordinary Life of the man who can be called the Father of the MRI scanner. One person I won’t be covering, though, is Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. She has been the subject of several articles in the past, and her introduction of inoculation of smallpox into the UK has been covered.

Another subject this month is drugs obtained from plants. I’ve covered this subject before in an article about Professor Jay Keasling and the malaria drug artemisinin. I’ll be looking at some of the other subject in my Flower Power series and the drugs and medical uses obtained from them. 

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