Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Homer G. Phillips Hospital closed in 1979, but has been renovated and reopened as a senior living facility.
Onegentlemanofverona | Creative Commons

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Dr. Jerome Williams Sr. still feels an emotional lift when he thinks about a Monday morning 72 years ago. In 1937, he had gathered with other Boy Scouts on the city's north side that morning. Standing erect, he waited to take his place in line for a parade; and in spite of the cold of a day in late February, he was moved by the sight of hundreds of people -- doctors and lawyers, teachers and preachers, dignitaries and ordinary people -- gathering in the vicinity of Whittier Street and Kennerly Avenue.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When it comes to health-care rationing, the discussions can be anything but rational.

In the current highly charged atmosphere over changes in health care, "rationing" is one of the hottest buttons around. Yet any debate over how medical resources can be used most wisely inevitably reaches the fact that because demand outstrips supply, patients can't ever get everything they want, so some form of allocation is needed. That's what rationing is all about.

Matt and Tom Smith
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

In high school, Matthew Smith busied himself designing websites, taking photos and making pottery. His younger brother, Tom, played trombone in the school jazz band, worked on his Eagle Scout badge and concentrated on honors classes in math, physics and geometry.

Like most teenagers preoccupied with their own pursuits, they didn't really notice anything unusual about their dad. But their friends did.

"They'd say, 'Your dad doesn't have any hair on his legs. Your dad's hair is really long'," said Matthew, 23.

Michelle and Debbie Smith
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

Growing up with three brothers in a cramped house just outside Chicago, Michelle Smith delighted in the rare chance to slip into her mother's bra and black wig. As her heart pounded, her excitement was tempered only by the terror of being discovered. Had she been caught, Michelle feared her mother would not be amused by a 6-year-old's attempt to imitate mommy.

That's because Michelle was being raised as a son.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: I visited Korea for a week at the end of May, a speaker at a world conference on Peace and the Environment, and was surprised to find myself questioned by almost everyone I met about the dangers of American food. On walls everywhere in the city of Seoul are posters showing a cute little girl holding a candle and saying, “I don’t want to die from American beef.” On May 2, tens of thousands of protesters crowded downtown Seoul. The conference speaker before me, Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, was late, delayed by more street demonstrations.

An international team of scientists has sequenced the genome of a duck-billed platypus. Part bird, part reptile and part mammal, the platypus genome sheds light on the evolution of mammals, including humans, and on the genetics of disease. Led by Richard K. Wilson, director of the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University School of Medicine, the scientific team found that this mammal's DNA is as unusual as its duck-bill.

Mixed-up Mammal

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