Ode to Ingenuity

MADAS VII T Mechanical Calculator, 1940s [Photo: Kailee Mandel, UT Magazine]

Erich Weidenhammer is interviewed in the article “Ode to Ingenuity” in the University of Toronto Magazine. The beautifully illustrated article describes the importance of historical scientific instruments. Erich explains how an artifact can provide insights beyond what can be gleaned from scientific papers.

Erich is curator of the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection which gathers, safeguards, researches, catalogues, and interprets the material heritage of research at the University of Toronto. It is one of the largest collections of historical scientific instruments in Canada.


Wondrous Transformations

Alison Li’s book Wondrous Transformations: A maverick physician, the science of hormones, and the birth of the transgender revolution was published September 26 by University of North Carolina Press. It is a biography of Dr. Harry Benjamin, a pivotal figure in the development of transgender healthcare.

“I’ve been hoping for a long time that somebody would write this book. Alison Li has produced a highly readable, authoritatively researched biography of Harry Benjamin, whose contributions to transgender medicine are not as widely known as they should be. A much-needed corrective.”

Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History

“With Wondrous Transformations, Alison Li has written a compelling and eminently readable biography that is at the same time magisterial in the scope and depth of its research. A must-read for anyone interested in the history of science, medicine, or trans iterations of the same.”

Jules Gill-Peterson, author of Histories of the Transgender Child

Alison is featured in an Author Profile in Quill and Quire.


Bring Your Cancer Stories to Life! Workshop

Charles Hayter will be presenting a workshop “Bring Your Cancer Stories to Life! Techniques to Improve Your Cancer Narratives” at the International Cancer Education Conference. The session will be held Wednesday, October 4, 2023 at 7:30-9:00 AM at Marriott Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, 525 Bay St., Toronto. Advanced registration and fee is required.

Charles is the author of Cancer Confidential: Backstage Dramas in the Radiation Clinic, now available wherever books are sold.


“Radical” by Charles Hayter

Village Players presents a Zoom presentation of Charles Hayter’s play Radical, based on the true story of Dr. Vera Peter’s battle to improve breast cancer treatment.

Written by Charles Hayter
Directed by Bridget Jankowski, with Meg Gibson
Produced by Bill Hammond
(Drama with strong imagery)

Live ZOOM Performances: Friday and Saturday, April 14-15, 2023 – both @ 8:00pm
For tickets and more information visit Village Players

Charles Hayter is a physician and award-winning playwright whose most recent book is Cancer Confidential: Backstage Dramas in the Radiation Clinic (University of Toronto Press, 2022)


Canadian Lipid Nanoparticle Research

Left to right: Thomas Madden, Pieter Cullis, and Michael Hope [Photo: Life Sciences Institute, University of British Columbia]

Congratulations to Christopher Rutty on his new article in The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Canadian Lipid Nanoparticle Research: The Key to COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines.” Chris’ article describes the ground-breaking work of Pieter Cullis, Michael Hope, and Thomas Madden at the University of British Columbia in studying and developing lipid nanoparticles systems for drug delivery. In addition to many important applications such as delivering anti-cancer drugs to tumours, their research made possible the unprecedented speed with which COVID-19 mRNA vaccines were developed and delivered amid a global pandemic.


Dr. Caroline Sophia Brown

Trinity Medical School in 1871. Caroline Sophia Brown graduated from the Ontario Medical College for Women, then affiliated with Trinity Medical College, in 1900. [Photo: University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services – Image Database]

Dr. Caroline Sophia Brown (1862-1936) was known for her keen intellect and seemingly inexhaustible physical vigour. She practiced medicine in Toronto for over twenty-five years, including at Women’s College Hospital. Her advocacy of women’s rights and her concern for the welfare of children are evident in her many achievements in education, medicine, and public service. A entry on Brown, written by Alison Li, appears this week in the latest volume of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.


Public Health Siblings: Donald and Frieda Fraser

From left to right, Dr. Donald T. Fraser and Dr. Frieda H. Fraser, with R.C. Parker and R.D. Defries at the School of Hygiene, c. 1940s. Image: Archives, Sanofi Pasteur Canada (formerly Connaught Laboratories).

Christopher Rutty is leading a collaborative effort of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the University of Toronto Archives to explore and promote the archival collections relating to public health. Chris demonstrates that much can be learned about history of public health through a study of the personal and professional fonds held in the U of T Archives.

The first of a series of articles that he is writing for this initiative is a profile of Donald and Frieda Fraser: “Public Health Siblings; Donald and Frieda Fraser: Profiles From the Public Health History Archives, University of Toronto”


Cancer Confidential by Charles Hayter

Warmest congratulations to our own Charles Hayter whose new book Cancer Confidential: Backstage Dramas in the Radiation Clinic is just out from University of Toronto Press. Cancer Confidential is a vivid, moving, and beautifully-written memoir that sheds light on the mysterious and often maligned specialty of radiation oncology. Weaving together the stories of his patients, colleagues, and his own father, Hayter deals with some of the most painful experiences in life with great courage, compassion, insight, and honesty.

Order your copy here today or through your favorite bookseller.

“All the [medical] world’s a stage! In elegant prose, with Felliniesque flights into whimsical metaphor, physician-historian-playwright Charles Hayter describes his encounters with cancer, as a doctor and as a son, and how the experience changed him as a person. Sensitive to the arrogance and obfuscation of his clinical colleagues, he advocates for the underappreciated power of radiation therapy in cancer care and for truth in all relationships.”

Jacalyn M. Duffin, Professor Emerita and Hannah Chair of the History of Medicine, Queen’s University

Clinical Medicine: the Youngest Science

Friends of the CIHR presents a video series in the history of medicine in Canada featuring video clips from the Friesen Lectures and other sources.

This is the first of a four part series featuring excerpts from Dr. David Naylor’s lecture “Emergence of Health Research as a Data Science” from the 2018 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research. Dr. Naylor is Professor of Medicine and President Emeritus of the University of Toronto, as well as past Dean of Medicine at the University of Toronto.


Mercy Mission

Constance Beattie in the summer of 1949, at Fairway Island (known today as Pitsiulartok) in Hudson Bay. [Photo: courtesy of Beattie's nephew Chuck Beattie]

“When polio struck an Inuit community in the late 1940s, it led to a tragedy that shocked the country. A physiotherapist was urgently needed to help treat Inuit polio victims in the Arctic settlement of Chesterfield Inlet on the west coast of Hudson Bay. Constance “Connie” Beattie was the only real choice to answer a distress call issued by the Department of Indian Affairs in late March 1949.”

Club member Christopher Rutty has an article, “Mercy Mission,” originally published in the Feb-March 2018 issue of Canada’s History Magazine about the fascinating story of Constance Beattie’s medical mission to the Arctic.