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From the archives

Untying the Knot

A new book untangles historical confusion and contemporary anxieties about marriage

Thou Art Anxious

Decisions, decisions

Keep in Touch

Why digital connections can’t sustain health, happiness or politics

Michael Bliss

Michael Bliss’s books in medical history include The Discovery of Insulin,  Banting: A Biography, William Osler: A Life in Medicine, Harvey Cushing: A Life in Surgery, and The Making of Modern Medicine: Turning Points in the Treatment of Disease.

Articles by
Michael Bliss

Brain Surgery

Detailing a vital way station for the neurosciences May 2016
McGill University has always aspired to foster healthcare complexes second to none in North America. It was not surprising in the late 1920s that McGill should reach south to hire Wilder Penfield, a very promising young American brain surgeon, in the hope that he would make McGill and Montreal a leader in one of medicine’s most remarkable new…

Medical Mountaineering

A quiet Toronto brain surgeon, overshadowed up to now by Wilder Penfield, gets his own biography April 2004
Brain surgery still vies with rocket science in our popular imagery about difficult occupations. It does not take a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist to be a politician. Brain surgeons seem to be the triathletes and mountaineers of medicine. Retired writers can’t become brain surgeons. Retired brain surgeons often become writers. Thomas Morley, retired head of neurosurgery at the former Toronto General Hospital (now part of the absurdly named University Health…

The Promise and Glory of Stem Cells

How two Canadian scientists stumbled upon a landmark discovery April 2012
Canada plays in the major league of biomedical research. Our lead funding agency, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, spends just over a billion dollars annually, supporting the projects of upwards of 9,000 researchers across the country. Various other federal bodies, provincial research institutes, private foundations, hospitals, universities and other organizations spend perhaps another billion. The major medical school and hospital complexes in…

WHO Is Brock Chisholm?

Sometimes being there is just not good enough June 2008
“That Canada, a country which prides itself on its support for the United Nations … no longer remembers that one of its own became the first director general of one of the UN’s most important agencies is a national disgrace.” Thus John Farley, a veteran historian of science and medicine at Dalhousie University, justifies his book-length account of…