Category Archives: Endocrine



17 October 2012

Conakry, Guinea

Makone Soumaoro, 30, goiter. “I don’t have pain, but I am worried that my neck swells that much. I hope it it is not a tumor because I am a housewife and my man and three children need me.”

Guinea is one of the least developed countries in the world. More than 60 percent of the population lives on less than one dollar per day. Three quarters of the population is illiterate. Health care is substandard and unaffordable for most people. Some get help with their health problems from NGO Mercy Ships aboard the hospital ship ‘African Mercy’ docked in the capital Conakry. They are treated by volunteer surgeons, doctors and nurses with such health issues as cataracts, teeth problems, and skin diseases to more complex orthopedic or tumor surgeries. (from world press photos- link)

Stephan Vanfleteren of Belgium, a Panos photographer working for Mercy Ships/De Standaard,  won the first prize in the People – Staged Portraits Stories category of the World Press Photo Contest 2013 with the series ‘People of Mercy, Guinea’. The picture shows Makone Soumaoro, 30, who has a goiter. (Reuters) link

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The Nobel Prize committee in 1923 credited the practical extraction of insulin to a team at the University of Toronto and awarded the Nobel Prize to two men: Frederick Banting and J.J.R. Macleod.  They were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923 for the discovery of insulin.  Banting, insulted that Best was not mentioned, shared his prize with him, and Macleod immediately shared his with James Collip. The patent for insulin was sold to the University of Toronto for one half-dollar.

“Children dying from diabetic ketoacidosis were kept in large wards, often with 50 or more patients in a ward, mostly comatose. Grieving family members were often in attendance, awaiting the (until then, inevitable) death.

In one of medicine’s more dramatic moments, Banting, Best, and Collip went from bed to bed, injecting an entire ward with the new purified extract. Before they had reached the last dying child, the first few were awakening from their coma, to the joyous exclamations of their families.” (from Wikipedia)

Vials of insulin produced by Connaught Labs 1925 (link)

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Irish Giant

Charles Byrne, the “Irish Giant” scaled a distance of over 7ft 7in from the ground. Byrne broke into fame during 1780s demonstrating himself as a freak, curiosity, and astonishment all over London.

The life of the celebrity ultimate got the better of him, which might be down to the fact that he got involved into heavy drinking. Later, the giant died at his Charing Cross residence at the age of 22. Soon after the death of the Irish Giant, his body was taken by John Hunter, a London-based surgeon, and his skeleton was kept for display at the London-based Royal College of Surgeons’ Hunterian Museum. (from topnews)

image from (link)  Photo of the queen’s visit to the Hunterian Museum, 1962

“The Queen seems impressed as she views the skeleton of the Irish Giant, 8ft 2in Charles Byrne, in the Hunterian Museum during her visit to the new buildings of the Royal College of Surgeons of England at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London. Charles Byrne was born in 1761 in Drummullan in what was then northeast Tyrone. He moved to London aged 21 and found fame and riches. Charles Byrne died aged just 22, his final wish that he be buried at sea rather than have his body given to science, was clearly not granted.  (from

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Albright’s hereditary osteodystrophy is a disorder is characterized by a lack of responsiveness to parathyroid hormone, resulting in low serum calcium, high serum phosphate, and appropriately high serum parathyroid hormone.

Individuals with Albright’s hereditary osteodystrophy have short stature, characteristically shortened fourth and fifth metacarpals, rounded facies, and often mild mental retardation.

Albright’s hereditary osteodystrophy is commonly known as Pseudohypoparathyroidism because the kidney responds as if parathyroid hormone were absent. In fact, blood levels of parathyroid hormone are elevated in Pseudohypoparathyroidism due to the continued Hyperphosphatemia & Hypocalcemia. (adapted from wikipedia)

Image from NEJM Image challenge (link)

“The absence of the fourth knuckle on each hand is characteristic of Albright’s hereditary osteodystrophy. First described in 1952 by Fuller Albright, the disorder is caused by a paternally transmitted mutation in the gene encoding adenylate cyclase-stimulating G alpha protein, which results in the characteristic osteodystrophy with a normal renal response to parathyroid hormone and preserved calcium homeostasis (called pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism).” From NEJM

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