DiscoverDistillations: Science + Culture + History
Distillations: Science + Culture + History

Distillations: Science + Culture + History

Author: Science History Institute

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Each episode of Distillations podcast takes a deep-dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present.
243 Episodes
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Sex(ism), Drugs, and Migraines
Egyptian scriptures from 1200 BCE describe painful, migraine-like headaches, so we know the disorder has afflicted people for at least three thousand years. Still, the condition continues to mystify us today. Anne Hoffman is a reporter, a professor, and a chronic migraine sufferer. She spent the past year tracing the history of migraines, hoping to discover clues about a treatment that actually works for her. The journey took her in some interesting directions. One common theme she found? A whole lot of stigma. Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Reporter: Anne Hoffman Photo illustration by Jay Muhlin Additional audio production by Dan Drago Music Theme music composed by Zach Young. "Valantis" and "Valantis Vespers" by Blue Dot Sessions, courtesy of the Free Music Archive. Additional music courtesy of the Audio Network. Research Notes Interviews Matthew Crawford, Doan Fellow, Science History Institute. Margaret Heaney, professor of neurobiology, Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Joanna Kempner, sociologist and author of Not Tonight: Migraine and the Politics of Gender and Health. Anne MacGregor, medical researcher and clinician. Brian McGeeney, assistant professor of neurology, Boston University School of Medicine.  Sources Brooklyn Museum, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. “Hildegarde of Bingen.” McClory, Robert. “Hildegard of Bingen: No Ordinary Saint.” National Catholic Reporter, March 24, 2012. Meares, Hadley. “The Medieval Prophetess Who Used Her Visions to Criticize the Church.” Atlas Obscura, July 13, 2016. PBS Frontline. “Hildegard’s Scivias.” Songfacts. Für Hildegard Von Bingen. Wikipedia. “Scivias.” Last modified October 23, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scivias. Cannabidiol (CBD): Bazelot, Michaël, Chen Tong, Ibeas Bih, Dallas Mark, Clementino Nunn, Alistair V. W. Whalley Benjamin. “Molecular Targets of Cannabidiol in Neurological Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics 12 (2015): 699–730. Chen, Angus. “Some of the Parts: Is Marijuana’s ‘Entourage Effect’ Scientifically Valid?” Scientific American, April 20, 2017. Grinspoon, Peter. “Cannabidiol (CBD)—What We Know and What We Don’t.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, August 24, 2018. Science Vs. “CBD: Weed Wonder Drug?” Podcast audio, November 15, 2018.. Migraine: Kempner, Joanna. “The Birth of the Dreaded ‘Migraine Personality.’” Migraine Again, November 30, 2017. Neighmond, Patti. “Why Women Suffer More Migraines Than Men.” Shots: Health News from NPR, National Public Radio, April 16, 2012. Peterlin, B. Lee, Saurabh Gupta, Thomas N. Ward, and Anne MacGregor. “Sex Matters: Evaluating Sex and Gender in Migraine and Headache Research.” Headache 51(6) (2011): 839–842. Sharkey, Lauren. “Why Don’t We Know More about Migraines?” BBC Future, British Broadcasting Corporation, July 2, 2018. Wikipedia. “Aretaeus of Cappadocia.” Last modified December 6, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aretaeus_of_Cappadocia. Cannabis for Migraine: Mandal, Ananya. “Migraine History.” News-Medical, August 23, 2018. MDede. “Are Cannabinoids and Hallucinogens Viable Treatment Options for Headache Relief?” Neurology Reviews 22(5) (2014): 22–23. Available at MDedge, Clinical Neurology News. Archival: Grass—The History of Marijuana. Directed by Ron Mann. Toronto: Sphinx Productions, 1999. Hildegard of Bingen. Directed by James Runcie. London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1994. Reefer Madness. Directed by Louis J. Gasnier. Los Angeles: George A. Hirliman Productions, 1938.
The Mouse That Changed Science: A Tiny Animal With a Big Story
In April 1988 Harvard University was awarded a patent that was the first of its kind. U.S. Patent Number 4,736,866 was small, white, and furry, with red beady eyes. His name was OncoMouse. The mouse, genetically engineered to have a predisposition for cancer, allowed researchers to study the disease in an intact living organism. It promised to transform cancer research, but not everyone was happy. Most critics were wary of patenting life forms at all. But academic scientists were also worried about the collision of commercial and academic science. It forced them to face difficult questions: Who should pay for science? Who does scientific knowledge belong to? And should science be for the good of the public or for profit? Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago. Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Reporter: Jessie Wright-Mendoza   Photo illustration by Jay Muhlin. Additional audio production by Dan Drago. Music Additional music courtesy of the Audio Network.  Research Notes Interviews: Elizabeth Popp Berman, Associate Professor of Sociology, SUNY Albany, and author of Creating the Market University: How Academic Science Became an Economic Engine. David Einhorn, House Counsel, Jackson Laboratory. Harold Varmus, Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine. Ken Paigen, Executive Research Fellow and Professor, Jackson Laboratory. Sources:  Adler, Jerry. “The First Patented Animal Is Still Leading the Way on Cancer Research.” Smithsonian Magazine, December 2016.  Chakrabarty, Ananda. Microorganisms having multiple compatible degradative energy-generating plasmids and preparation thereof. U.S. Patent 4259444A, filed June 7, 1981, and issued March 31, 1981.  Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303 (1980). “Fortune Names Its ’88 Products of the Year.” Associated Press, November 17, 1988.  Hanahan, Douglas, Erwin Wagner, and Richard Palmiter. “The Origins of Oncomice: A History of the First Transgenic Mice Genetically Engineered to Develop Cancer.” Genes and Development 21 (2007), 2258–2270. Leder, Philip, and Timothy Stewart. Transgenic non-human mammals. U.S. Patent 4736866A, filed June 22, 1984, and issued April 12, 1988.  Leonelli, Sabina, and Rachel Ankeny. “Re-Thinking Organisms: The Impact of Databases on Model Organism Biology.” Working paper, University of Exeter, April 5, 2011. Published in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43:1 (2012), 29–36. Morse, Herbert C. III, ed. Origins of Inbred Mice. New York: Academic Press, 1978. Google Books. Murray, Fiona. “The Oncomouse That Roared: Resistance and Accommodation to Patenting in Academic Science.” Working paper, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2006. Published in American Journal of Sociology 116:2 (2010), 341–388. National Association for Biomedical Research. “Mice and Rats.” Mice and Rats. Washington, DC, 2018. nabr.org. National Museum of American History. “OncoMouse.” Washington, DC, 2018. americanhistory.si.edu. Palmer, Brian. “Jonas Salk: Good at Virology, Bad at Economics.” Slate, April 13, 2014. Rader, Karen. “The Mouse People: Murine Genetics Work at the Bussey Institution, 1909–1936.” Journal of the History of Biology 31:3 (Autumn 1998), 327–354.  Russell, Elizabeth. “Origins and History of Mouse Inbred Strains: Contributions of Clarence Cook Little.” Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine. informatics.jax.org. Schneider, Keith. “New Animal Forms Will Be Patented.” New York Times, April 17, 1987. Specter, Michael. “Can We Patent Life?” New Yorker, April 1, 2013.  Archival Sources: Achbar, Mark, and Jennifer Abbott, dir. The Corporation. Canada: Big Picture Media Corporation, 2003.  Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. “Lasker Archives: Passion and Optimism in Scientific Research.” April 9, 2017, laskerfoundation.org. On the 1987 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. Murrow, Edward. See It Now (Jonas Salk). CBS, April 12, 1955. paleycenter.org Potter, Deborah, and Dan Rather. “Animal Patents.” CBS Evening News, April 12, 1988. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. “Candidacy for Presidency: Ronald Reagan’s Announcement for President of U.S.” November 13, 1979. youtube.com.
Treating America's Opioid Addiction Part 3: Searching for Meaning in Kensington
“We should never, ever forget that addiction treatment is a search for meaning in a place other than using drugs.” —Nancy Campbell, historian of drug addiction (This is the third and final chapter of a three-part series. See Part 1 and Part 2.) In the final chapter of this series we travel to the heart of our modern opioid crisis. In what is now a notorious Philadelphia neighborhood called Kensington, we meet two victims of the epidemic and follow them on two distinct paths toward recovery. Our current devastating opioid crisis is unprecedented in its reach and deadliness, but it’s not the first such epidemic the United States has experienced or tried to treat. In fact, it’s the third.  Treating America’s Opioid Addiction is a three-part series that investigates how we’ve understood and treated opioid addiction over more than a century. Through the years we’ve categorized opioid addiction as some combination of a moral failure, a mental illness, a biological disease, or a crime. And though we’ve desperately wanted the problem to be something science alone can solve, the more we look, the more complicated we learn it is.  Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Reporters: Mariel Carr and Rigoberto Hernandez, with additional reporting by Meir Rinde Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Audio Engineer: James Morrison  Photo illustration by Jay Muhlin Additional audio production by Dan Drago Music Music courtesy of the Audio Network.  Research Notes Interviews: Claire Clark, author of The Recovery Revolution: The Battle over Addiction Treatment in the United States.  Nancy Campbell, historian and director of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Chris Marshall, former member and director of the Last Stop. Miranda Thomas, Kensington resident. Joseph Garbely, vice president of medical services and medical director of the Caron Treatment Centers. Lara Weinstein, primary care physician, Project HOME and Pathways to Housing PA  Special thanks to Jennifer Reardon of Temple Health Communications and to Joseph D’Orazio and David O’Gurek.  Sources:  American Addiction Centers. “Can Suboxone Get You High?” Brentwood, TN: American Addiction Centers, 2018. American Addiction Centers. “Pros and Cons of Methadone.” Brentwood, TN: American Addiction Centers, 2018. Campbell, Nancy, and Anne Lovell. “The History of the Development of Buprenorphine as an Addiction Therapeutic.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1248 (Feb. 2012): 124–39. Clark, Claire. The Recovery Revolution: The Battle over Addiction Treatment in the United States. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017. Giordano, Rita. “Opioid Addiction Treatment with Medicine Works Best. Why Don’t More Young People Get It?” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 10, 2018.  Oransky, Ivan. “Vincent Dole” [obituary]. Lancet 368 (Sept. 16, 2006): 984. Rockefeller University. “The First Pharmacological Treatment for Narcotic Addiction: Methadone Maintenance.” Rockefeller University Hospital: 100 Years of Bridging Science and Medicine website. New York, 2010. Shuster, Alvin M. “G.I. Heroin Addiction Epidemic in Vietnam.” New York Times, May 16, 1971. Thompson-Gargano, Kathleen. “What Is Buprenorphine Treatment Like?” Farmington, CT: National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment. Villa, Lauren. “Methadone and Suboxone: What’s the Difference Anyway?” Drugabuse.com. Waldorf, Dan, et al. Morphine Maintenance: The Shreveport Clinic 1919–1923—Special Studies No. 1. Washington, DC: Drug Abuse Council, April 1974. Whelan, Aubrey. “She Was Just out of Rehab. She Was Excited about the Future. Three Hours Later, She Was Dead.” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 26, 2018.   Winberg, Michaela. “Kensington’s Famous Last Stop Addiction Recovery Center Prepares to Move.” Billypenn.com, March 26, 2018. Archival Sources:  Efootage.com. Richard Nixon “Law & Order” Speech—1968. Video. John Chancellor. “Washington, DC Heroin Addiction.” NBC Evening News. February 4, 1971. Columbia Center for Oral History. Marie Nyswander, oral history. New York: Columbia University Libraries, Oral History Archives, 1981.
Treating America’s Opioid Addiction Part 2: Synanon and the Tunnel Back to the Human Race.
Our current devastating opioid crisis is unprecedented in its reach and deadliness, but it’s not the first such epidemic the United States has experienced or tried to treat. In fact, it’s the third.  Treating America’s Opioid Addiction is a three-part series that investigates how we’ve understood and treated opioid addiction over more than a century. Through the years we’ve categorized opioid addiction as some combination of a moral failure, a mental illness, a biological disease, or a crime. And though we’ve desperately wanted the problem to be something science alone can solve, the more we look, the more complicated we learn it is.  Part 2 focuses on a controversial rehabilitation program called Synanon, which became the first significant therapeutic community for opioid addiction. From the time it opened its doors in 1958, it seemed to do what no other hospital, prison, or sanitarium had done before: cure the supposedly incurable heroin addict. But over the years its changing methods became increasingly questionable, and the controversy would ultimately lead to its demise. Despite its faults Synanon had a profound influence on subsequent generations of drug treatment programs—many of which still exist today. CORRECTIONS: In the original episode we said that by the time John Stallone joined Synanon in 1965, stages two and three had been eliminated—meaning that there was no timeline for him to ever leave. In fact, the phasing out of those stages took longer to implement, and they were still in place when he arrived. This statement has been edited out of the updated audio version. In the original episode David Deitch says that he found his dog hanging by a noose outside his house, and he believed that a member of Synanon was responsible. However, this story did not happen to David Deitch but to another former Synanon member named Jack Hurst. This story has been edited out of the updated audio version. All other statements made by David Deitch have been corroborated by other sources.  The original episode suggested that John Stallone left Synanon after the group's leaders started endorsing violence against children, but he left before years before the violence started. The original script read, "John left in 1972 because Dederich was asking parents to live separately from their children, to essentially turn them over to Synanon, and John and his wife didn’t want to do that to their son. And they made the right decision."  John Stallone: They started physically abusing the kids. They started using corporal punishment with the kids. They started hitting them and whatnot. It didn't turn out good at all." The audio version has been edited to replace "And they made the right decision" with "And years later something happened that made it clear they had made the right decision." Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Reporter: Mariel Carr with additional reporting by Meir Rinde Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Audio Engineer: James Morrison  Photo illustration by Jay Muhlin Music Our theme music was composed by Zach Young.  Additional music courtesy of the Audio Network.  Research Notes Interviews: Claire Clark, author of The Recovery Revolution: The Battle over Addiction Treatment in the United States.  Nancy Campbell, historian and director of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. John Stallone, former Synanon member. David Deitch, former Synanon member, clinical and social psychologist, and emeritus professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. Sources:  Claire Clark. The Recovery Revolution: The Battle over Addiction Treatment in the United States. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017. Synanon Foundation records, Online Archive of California, oac.cdlib.org/. Synanon Foundation Oral Histories, UCLA Library, Center for Oral History Research, Los Angeles. David Deitch. “Conversation with David Deitch.” Addiction X (May 3, 2002), 791-800.  Hillel Aron. “The Story of This Drug-Rehab-Turned-Violent Cult Is Wild, Wild, Country-Caliber Bizarre.” Los Angeles Magazine, April 23, 2018. Matt Novak. “Synanon’s Sober Utopia: How a Drug Rehab Program Became a Violent Cult.” Gizmodo, Paleofuture, April 15, 2014. Film excerpts from:  The Distant Drummer: Flower of Darkness. Washington, DC: Airlie Foundation and George Washington University Department of Medical and Public Affairs, 1972. David, 1961, Drew Associates. Instant Guide to Synanon: A Compilation of the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Our Foundation. Synanon, 1973. The House on the Beach. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1965. YouTube, posted on February 29, 2008. Synanon. Richard Quine, director. Columbia Pictures, 1965.
Treating America’s Opioid Addiction Part 1: The Narcotic Farm and the Promise of Salvation
Our current devastating opioid crisis is unprecedented in its reach and deadliness, but it’s not the first such epidemic the United States has experienced or tried to treat. In fact, it’s the third.  Treating America’s Opioid Addiction is a three-part series that investigates how we’ve understood and treated opioid addiction over more than a century. Through the years we’ve categorized opioid addiction as some combination of a moral failure, a mental illness, a biological disease, or a crime. And though we’ve desperately wanted the problem to be something science alone can solve, the more we look, the more complicated we learn it is.  Part 1 focuses on a government-run prison-hospital, the Narcotic Farm, just for people addicted to opioids. When it opened in 1935, it promised to find a cure for drug addiction.  Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Reporter: Mariel Carr with additional reporting by Meir Rinde Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Audio Engineer: James Morrison  Music Our theme music was composed by Zach Young.  Additional music courtesy of the Audio Network.  Research Notes Interviews: Claire Clark, author of The Recovery Revolution: The Battle Over Addiction Treatment in the United States.  Nancy Campbell, historian and the head of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. John Stallone, former Narcotic Farm patient. Sources:  Claire Clark, The Recovery Revolution: The Battle Over Addiction Treatment in the United States.  The Habit, Opioid Addiction in America, Backstory.   Inside the Story of America’s 19th-Century Opiate Addiction, Smithsonian Magazine.  Films:  The Distant Drummer: Flower of Darkness  The Distant Drummer: Bridge From No Place The Narcotic Farm
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Comments (1)

Julia Eva

This 3 part series has been incredible. The music, the breakdown and the relevance to Philadelphia being the city Distillations originates from..I think it is a stand out of this podcast. More like this would be greatly appreciated! such an important and educational series.

Oct 30th
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