On this day in 2005 we first signed on to the blogosphere on the original Terra Sigillata at Blogger. I had spent over six months reading the blogs of other in the areas of medicine and science and wondered if there was any need for yet another blog from another frustrated scientist. But I’m an academician stuck in a position where I don’t teach full-time. I really used to enjoy beginning my pharmacology lectures with little vignettes about the latest drug news or some information about an herb or dietary supplement. I’ve also been fortunate to have a lot of clinical colleagues who would feed me “real-world” information to share with my students.
With that hole in my personal and professional life, I began commenting on blogs here and there, often on issues of pharmaceuticals but also on the travails of women in the life sciences. As I have primarily had female trainees in my group, I was astonished at how much patriarchal oppression remained in the academic laboratory sciences. So, between my interests in natural products and the career development of scientific trainees, I figured that if I added another blog I wasn’t going to hurt Technorati’s current volume of over 112 million blogs.
And while we are rather technical here at times, I also try to remember that I came from a blue-collar family where medical information was often misinterpreted or misunderstood. We as a family really only began to get a handle on medical issues when my Mom and a couple of aunts became nurses. So, I also write this blog to provide some general information for the public on medical and drug issues that may seem confusing or, in the case of dietary supplements, often misrepresented due to loopholes in current law.
While many of my fellow bloggers have served as my inspiration, I must also note the influence of some colleagues whose dedication to public health and medical consumer advocacy long preceded the blogosphere. You may be fortunate to be in a media market where you get a newspaper column and or radio show from “The People’s Pharmacy.”
Begun in the early- to mid-1970s by Michigan-trained pharmacologist, Joe Graedon, while his wife Terry did doctoral medical anthropology field work in Oaxaca, Mexico, a book called The People’s Pharmacy® was composed by Joe to answer drug and medical questions posed to him by family and friends. (Note that my namesake Dr John Jacob Abel founded the Dept of Pharmacology at the Univ of Michigan in 1891.) The book became a New York Times best-seller and truly served as the basis for the communication of objective pharmaceutical information for the general public. For over three decades, the Graedons have always maintained an objective stance, appreciating the folk medicine and home remedy traditions of North America and recognizing the strengths and pitfalls of the modern pharmaceutical industry.
When I completed my first book awhile back, I sent it to the Graedons on a whim and began a long-term friendship in the spirit of our shared interest in educating the public and serving what has essentially become an important role in public health. This blog is merely an adjunct to my professional career but the Graedons do this every day, every week, and in a variety of media. I can only strive to accomplish what they have done over the last 30 or so years.