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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Launch of 2012 Hippocrates Anthology at 12th May Awards in London

@HealthMed The 2012 Hippocrates Anthology of the 46 award-winning and commended poems will be launched in London on Saturday 12th May at the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road.

The launch will take place at the close of the 2012 Hippocrates Prize Awards, to be presented by judges broadcaster Martha Kearney, Paris-based US poet Marilyn Hacker, and scientist Prof Rod Flower FRS. Places are still available for the 12th May Symposium and Hippocrates Awards for Poetry and Medicine.

The 2102 Hippocrates Anthology contains the 3 Open and 3 NHS award-winning entries and the 40 commended poems in the 2012 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.

The Open international short-list includes one poet from the USA and two from the UK. Themes ranged from identity and immunity, to psychiatry and alienation, and from global health to medicine in archaeology, and the role of women in health (see full details of short-listed names, biographies and judges comments).
In the Open section, 10 of the 20 commended poems were from overseas: 1 from New Zealand, 2 from Australia and 7 from the USA.

To order copies of the anthology, please provide your contact details on the online order form

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Updates on cell signalling

@HealthMed After a 3 year gap, an excellent British Pharmacological Society International 4th Focused Meeting on Cell Signalling, again organised by the Leicester team and their colleagues. Around 190 international delegates from Monash, to Seattle and Tartu, enjoyed an outstanding speaker panel, followed by networking well into the evening.

Highlights ranged from recall in an after-dinner reminiscence by Humphrey Rang FRS, BPS President-elect, of his Oxford DPhil pioneering work on radio-ligand binding, to the latest technology applied to understanding the role of Beta-arrestin scaffold interactions in modulating receptor activation and contributing to biased ligand agonism.

Beta-arrestin interactions provide new concepts in cell-signalling, new understanding of individual variation in disease activity and severity, and new therapeutic targets, the landmark paper triggering this area published in Science in 1990 by Lefkowitz and colleagues.

Key themes of interest included:
Terry Kenakin, UNC Chapel Hill, on the impact of progress in developments on strategy for drug discovery
Katherina Lorenz, Wurzburg, on upregulation of endogenous RKIP as a strategy to reduce experimental congestive heart failure
Brigitte Kieffer, Illkirch, France, on imaging opiate receptors
Patrick Sexton, Monash, on allosteric modulation at muscarinic & GLP1 receptors
John Scott, Seattle, on kinase anchoring 
Manuela Zaccolo, Oxford, on cardiac cGMP-PDE-cAMP cross-talk and on cAMP control in cardiac muscleThomas Frimurer, Copenhagen, on binding pockets for drug discovery leads
Lester on nuclear GRK5-HDAC/Sin3A and the heart and on nuclear interactions
The next meeting is already planned - anyone interested in cell signalling: don't miss it!

Contact BPS re future meetings

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Opium and mortality

@HealthMed Opium is widely used internationally. A study from Iran just published in the British Medical Journal now reports almost doubling of mortality rates in regular users of opium.

Here are my comments to the Science Media Centre on this study:

"The key message in this prospective study on opiates is of interest to pharmacologists, health professionals and members of the public: use of recreational opium, whether raw or modified, smoked or swallowed, appears associated with increased risk of death from a wide range of diseases, including circulatory and respiratory disorders, and cancer.

"However the results need to be interpreted with caution. This work is from north-east Iran and may not be typical for other ethnically or genetically different individuals. The authors note that they cannot be sure whether the relationship is causative. And oddly, risks from opiates did not appear to be amplified in people with high blood pressure, smokers or diabetics, raising some questions about the accuracy of clinical data collection."

Although some commentators have linked findings of this study to use of medically prescribed or over the counter opiates, there are too many confounders for that to be a reasonable extrapolation from the BMJ study. Nonetheless the general principle remains that medicines should only be used when clinically indicated.

See more about the study and related comments on the New Zealand Science Media Centre site.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Health Policy and Technology launched by FPM and Elsevier

@HealthMed The Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, in partnership with international publisher Elsevier, has launched the first issue of a major new international journal - Health Policy and Technology.

The first issue includes a paper on the pioneering new Centre for Health Technology Assessment of Devices and Diagnostics within the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), and papers on e-health from the USA, India and Europe. 

There is also the first of a series of interviews in print, online and as podcasts, with international leaders in the field of health policy and technology, beginning with Sir Michael Rawlins, Chairman of NICE.

The next policy maker to be featured in this series (June 2012 issue of HPT) will be Professor Gonzalo Calvo, former chair of the European Medicines Agency Cardiovascular Working Party, and Chair of the European Association of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, which represents the national clinical pharmacology societies from the 29 established and accession countries in Europe and their ~4000 clinical pharmacologist members.

Background to new journal and to the FPM.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

From medieval pilgrims to 20th Century medicine

Medieval ward round in Siena Fresco
@HealthMed Opposite the cathedral in Siena is one of the oldest hospitals in Europe - Santa Maria della Scala.
Founded possibly as early as the latter part of the 9th Century, with its earliest record said to be 29th March, 1090, it remained in use as a hospital until the early 1990s, its success arising from its key location on the pilgrimage route to Rome.
It was set up to 'set up to care for pilgrims, assist the poor and provide for abandoned children'.
Frescoes on ward walls and ceilings areas provided interest for bed-fast patients. For current visitors they illustrate fashions in poor and wealthy, a major role for the hospital in feeding, educating (and arranging marriages) for the poor, and selected examples of early medical practice. These include examining a water sample, triage of the surgical patient (a young man with a serious, still bleeding, transverse wound on the right thigh), use of hydropathy (water therapy), and preparation for bad news - e.g. a ladder by which a series of babes are climbing to heaven. Patient consultations are attended by ward round retinues of varying size and seniority.
A plaque illustrates some of the sources of funding for the hospital - gifts of money, either in anticipation of a cure, or in thanks for treatment administered.
An early 20th century photograph shows very crowded rows of beds in the longest frescoed ward.

See article for more on Santa Maria della Scala.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Judges agree short-list for 2012 Hippocrates Awards for Poetry and Medicine

2012 judges Martha Kearney, Marilyn Hacker & Rod Flower FRS
@HealthMed In London on 4th April, after a lively discussion at the FPM, judges broadcaster Martha Kearney, Paris-based US poet Marilyn Hacker and medical researcher Professor Rod Flower FRS  agreed the short-list for the 2012 Hippocrates Awards for Poetry and Medicine
Judging was anonymous. In addition, to avoid runs of poems by the same poet, where there was more than one entry by the same poet, judges were not given poems in alphabetical order by surname of poet.
The 46 awarded and commended entries will be published in the 2012 Hippocrates Awards Anthology, to be released at the 2012 Hippocrates Awards in London, on Saturday 12th May.

The NHS-related short list includes one poet from Scotland and two from England. The Open international short-list includes one poet from the USA and two from the UK. Themes ranged from identity and immunity to psychiatry and alienation, and from global health to medicine in archaeology, and the role of women in health (see full details of short-listed names, biographies and judges comments below).
The judges also agreed commendations for 20 entries in the NHS category and 20 in the Open International category - 2 from Australia, 1 from New Zealand, 7 from the USA and 10 from the UK. Commended entries considered themes from birth to imaging, cancer, health and disease in art, history of medicine and illness in the family.
Awards will be announced by the judges on Saturday 12th May in London at an International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine at the Henry Wellcome rooms, with speakers and readers from the USA, France, Denmark, Russia, Cyprus, Greece and the UK.

Useful links

Open International and NHS-related short-listed and commended entries 

short-list by entry title
Allogeneic   Andy Jackson
Claybury    Nick MacKinnon
Mr Blatný perseveres   Jane Kirwan

Top 20 commended NHS-related entries
I must speak for this man - Edward John Anderson
At the clinic - Neil Ferguson
Into the tunnel - Alex Josephy
A nurse's châtelaine - Alex Josephy
Sara's wig - Frances-Anne King
Anatomy - Jane Kirwan
Delivery - Jane Kirwan
Heal thyself - Jane Kirwan
Not raging - Jane Kirwan
Eighteen - Denise Kitchiner
These are the stories doctors tell - Jonathan Knight
A question for neuroscientists - Valerie Laws
Rorschach - Andrew Thomas Martin
Intensive care, Friday afternoon - Kev O'Donnell
Still birth - Janet Smith
The bones - Sarah Stringer
Shrink - Tricia Torrington
Whitby - Carol Whitfield
Syphilis II: Treponema pallidum - Alison Wood
The little mercury I have taken - Chris Woods

Open International short-list by entry title
Los Subiros - Shelley McAlister
The Edwin Smith papyrus - Kelly Grovier
Women’s Work - Mary Bush

Top 20 Commended Open International entries
A lobsterman looks at the sea - Richard Berlin
The lonely walk - Timothy Edward Brewis
Recent past events - Rafael Campo
Artifact - Amanda Carver
R-O-M-J-X - Martyn Crucefix
Heartburn - Claudia Daventry
Bone says  - Julie Dunlop
Post-traumatic stress disorder - Elizabeth Anne Gleeson
Ana and I - Natalie Ann Holborow
To an anatomical Venus - Matthew Howard
In the ward with my son - Leah Kaminsky
Careful - Kathleen M Kelley
Ablation - Connie Levesque
Birth - Renee Liang
Forensic pathology - Kona Macphee
District nurse - Alice Malin
Next of kin - Vicky Paine
Rembrandt - Lynn Roberts
Tomorrow will be a day beloved of your father & of you - Rosie Shepperd
Day off - Caroline Wilkinson

Further details on short-listed and commended entries for the 2012 Hippocrates Prize
A former nurse, a dentist, and an emerging US poet, are among six finalists for this year’s Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine - one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem. Themes ranged from medicine in archaeology to the role of women in new life science, and from health in the developing world to frailty and memory.
Now in its third year, the short-listed entries for the 2012 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine have been selected by judges broadcaster Martha Kearney, distinguished US poet Marilyn Hacker and medical scientist Professor Rod Flower FRS, from over 1000 entries from 32 countries.

Rising US poet Mary Bush, academic and writer Kelly Grovier, who has published two poetry collections, and published poet and writer-in-healthcare Shelley McAlister have made the shortlist for the Open Category.

The prize, which has a £15,000 award fund, is split into two strands – an open category and an NHS category with both carrying a first prize of £5,000.
In the NHS section, medical librarian Andy Jackson is competing with retired dentist Jane Kirwan and former nurse Nick MacKinnon, for the major £5000 award.

The winners will be announced at an International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine at the University of Warwick on May 7th, which is being supported by the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine.

The judges also agreed commendations for 20 entries in the NHS category and 20 in the Open International category - 2 from Australia, 1 from New Zealand, 7 from the USA and 10 from the UK. Commended entries considered themes from birth to imaging, cancer, health and disease in art, history of medicine and illness.

Martha Kearney said: ‘Who would have thought that such beautiful poetry could be inspired by lab instruments, tissue engineering or MRI scans? It has been fascinating to sift through such an interesting range of work right at the very nexus of science and art.’
Rod Flower added: 'Like literary X-rays, these poems penetrate into the emotional structure of humankind’s age-old struggle against disease, whether it be at the hospital, the patient's bedside or in the science laboratory'.
Marilyn Hacker said: 'The best of these poems reminded the reader of poetry's capacity to delight and instruct. They find their strength in merging knowledge, craft and feeling: they affirm poetry's ability to arise from and to address crucial issues of human life, both individual and collective'.

The awards symposium will consider the relationship between poetry and medicine, with topics including poetry as therapy, using poetry in health professional training, the impact of health and disease on the professional poet and the history of poetry and medicine.
Speakers on the day will come from the around the UK, the USA, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Greece, and Russia. MEP Eleni Theocharous will speak and attendees will also be treated to a reading by Jo Shapcott, the recent winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.
The Hippocrates Initiative – winner of the 2011 Times Higher Education Award for Innovation and Excellence in the Arts – is an interdisciplinary venture that investigates the synergy between the medicine, the arts, and health.

To attend the Symposium see

Notes to editors
Photos of all of the finalists, along with extracts of their poems are available on request, and all finalists have agreed to be contacted by press. For more information, please contact

Awards: In each category there will be: 1st prize £5,000, 2nd prize £1,000, 3rd prize of £500, and 20 commendations each of £50.  
Entries are judged anonymously. To avoid the judges seeing clustered runs of entries by the same poet, judges are given the anonymous entries ordered alphabetically by title.

Short lists for the 2012 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

Short list for Open Awards 
Mary Bush: Women’s Work
Mary Bush recently (2011) earned a Ph.D. in Creative Writing/Poetry from the University of North Texas while continuing to work in my long-term career as a project manager in the Information Technology industry. I write poetry for pleasure, and I have always been interested in the overlap of art and science—whether writing “scientific” poetry or “elegant” software. My husband and I have three adult children, one of whom is autistic, and his unique use of language fascinates and inspires me. We live in a ramshackle old house in a small town in North Texas, where my husband plays loud guitar and I write poems.
She said: ‘I was inspired to write this poem by reading about the tissue engineering work of Dr. Doris Taylor ( I was taken first by the fact that a woman was a leader and spokesperson for this cutting-edge scientific work and secondly by the notion of using a detergent or shampoo as part of the engineering process, as in a commercial context, detergent and shampoo are stereotypically considered "women's products." Everything about tissue engineering seemed beautiful to me, from the ethereal nature of the scaffolds to the idea of re-use and rebirth implicit in the process.’

Kelly Grovier: The Edwin Smith Papyrus
Kelly Grovier is the author of two collections of poetry with Carcanet Press: A lens in the palm (2008) and The Sleepwalker at Sea (2011). He is a regular contributor on arts to The Times Literary Supplement and co-founder of the scholarly journal European Romantic Review. In 2008, his popular history of London’s infamous Newgate Prison, entitled The Gaol (John Murray publishers), was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. He is a lecturer in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University and co-founder and co-director of the interdisciplinary David Jones Centre.
About the poem he said: ‘I’ve always been drawn to poems about fragments and ruin. So I found especially exciting the subject of ancient surgical papyri: those endlessly deteriorating tissues ironically intended to reverse the deterioration of tissues. “All composition is decomposition”, so the eighteenth-century traveller Walking Stewart once wrote. In the case of the so-called Edwin Smith papyrus (the oldest treatise on trauma we have, written around 1500 BCE), the allure was only amplified by hints of the interweaving of science and superstition, medicine and myth, and enticing allegations of possible forgery on the part of Smith himself, who acquired it in Egypt in 1862. In the poem I try to imagine the word and the world, the writer and the written, pixels and stars, in a ceaseless cycle of visions and division.’

Shelley McAlister: Los Subiros
Shelley McAlister grew up on the west coast of America and came to the UK in 1977. She writes short fiction and poetry and has previously been a writer in residence in healthcare on the Isle of Wight where she lives. She was commended in the 2010 Hippocrates Prize and has poems in a variety of publications including Magma, Iota and The Rialto. Her first poetry collection, Sailing Under False Colours, was published by Arrowhead Press in 2004.

Inspiration for the poem
As a lecturer in health and social care, I often read about inequalities in health. On this occasion I had a dream about a hospital on top of a mountain where the poorest people had no access to healthcare. I am fascinated by carriers of all kinds so once I had this setting clear in my mind, I knew that this was a poem about the bringers. 

Short list for Open Awards 

Jane Kirwan: Mr Blatn
ý Perseveres
Jane Kirwan qualified as a dentist in 1970, retiring in 2005, now divides her time between London and the Czech Republic where Ivan Blatný is still admired as a poet. Her mother and sister have worked as psychiatrists. She has had two poetry collections published by Rockingham Press and more recently a prose-poem memoir with her partner, a Czech dissident and former political prisoner. In 2002 she won an Arts Council Writers Award. She is currently working with Wendy French on a project about the NHS. 

Andy Jackson: Allogeneic
Andy Jackson is from Manchester but lives in Fife, Scotland, where he is Medical Librarian at Ninewells Teaching Hospital in Dundee. His poems have appeared in Magma, Blackbox Manifold, Trespass and Gutter. He won the National Galleries of Scotland competition in 2008 and the inaugural Baker Prize in 2012. Debut collection The Assassination Museum was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2010 and he is editor of Split Screen : Poetry Inspired by Film & Television, also published by Red Squirrel in 2012. Currently working with WN Herbert on an historical anthology of poems about the city of Dundee.
The poem Allogeneic is partly informed by experience as a patient having bloods taken as part of a research programme into cholesterol levels conducted by the Tayside Medical Science Centre and partly by the eternally wonderful Hancock’s Half Hour episode The Blood Donor.

Nick MacKinnon: Claybury
Nick MacKinnon was an auxiliary nurse on Duncuan psychogeriatric ward of the Argyll and Bute Hospital in the early 1980s. The subject of his poem is Claybury Asylum where his mother Rosan worked as an SRN in the 1970s. Claybury's water tower is still the chief landmark in Roding Valley, but the buildings are now the gated housing estate Repton Park. The poem aspires to be a history of psychiatry from Victorian place of safety to our Care in the Community, from the point of view of the tower.

The Hippocrates Prize judges
Rod Flower is Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology at the WIlliam Harvey Research Institute[21] in London. His main scientific research interests concern inflammation and anti-inflammatory drug mechanisms. He was formerly President of the British Pharmacological Society and is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Marilyn Hacker's book of poetry Presentation Piece (1974) won the National Book Award. In 2009, she won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for King of a Hundred Horsemen by Marie Étienne. In 2010, she received the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.

Martha Kearney is the main presenter for BBC Radio 4’s lunchtime news programme ‘The World at One’. She previously worked for Channel 4, presented the BBC’s Woman’s Hour, Today and PM and was political editor for Newsnight. She has been commended for her national and international reporting, including for work on child poverty. She has been a judge for the Webb Essay Prize and the Guardian First Book Award, and has chaired the judging panel for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Hippocrates Prize Organisers
Donald Singer is Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Warwick, and President of the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine. His interests include research on discovery of new therapies, and public understanding of drugs, health and disease.
Michael Hulse is a poet and translator of German literature, and teaches creative writing and comparative literature at the University of Warwick. He is also editor of The Warwick Review. His latest publications are: The Secret History (poems, Arc) and The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (translation of Rilke's novel, Penguin Classics). With Donald Singer he co-founded in 2009 the International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.
Sorcha Gunne is a Post-doctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies. Prior to this appointment,she was an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study. Her research specialism is World Literatures in English, particularly twentieth-century and contemporary writing.

The 2012 Hippocrates prize is supported by
The Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine, a national medical society founded in 1918 and publisher of the Postgraduate Medical Journal and Health Policy and Technology.
The Cardiovascular Research Trust, a charity founded in 1996, which promotes research and education for the prevention and treatment of disorders of the heart and circulation.