The Dead Beat: Ounce of Prevention Edition

by | Nov 29, 2013 | Uncategorized

Hypodermic syringe courtesy Flickr user hitthatswitch

Hypodermic syringe courtesy Flickr user hitthatswitch

You’re going to feel a little pinch.

Prabodh Chandra ‘Manny’ Dey 1919 to five-weeks-ago Thursday

Not every day does someone die and draw praise from the heads-of-state of India and Bangladesh.  But Manna Dey’s 62-year Bollywood career drew tributes in the languages of Bengali, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Punjabi, Assamese, Oriya, Gujrahti, Marathi, Kannada, Nepali, Malayam, and of course, Hindi.  What else can be expected from the man that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called “the king of melody.”  To be eurocentric about it, seems like he was South Asia’s Michael Jackson.  So, what does this have to do with prevention?  He leaves behind one of his great songs took the title “Oh, Brother, Look Where You’re Going,” which seems like a tune designed to provide a serious injection of folly.  Check it out here:

William Pollack 1926 to two-weeks-ago Saturday

Jonas Salk may be the famous one, but William Pollack deserves his place among the grandees of vaccination.  Pre-Pollack 10,000 American infants each year fell fatal victim to erythroblastosis fetalis, more commonly known as Rh disease–an illness whereby differences in blood type between mother and child drive the mother’s immune system to attack the blood of the unborn.  That is, until Pollack thought to give mothers injections of blood so blended as to prevent such a reaction.  He leaves behind some 200,000 lives saved each year by his innovative gamma globulin.

Rev. Dr. Eugene Callender 1926 to four-weeks-ago Friday

Fifties Harlem is the next stop on our ounce-of-prevention tour.  There we find the good Rev. Dr. Eugene Callender founding the Addicts Rehabilitation Center.  His work with addicts drew him to reflect on the causes of drug abuse.  His focus soon turned from treatment to prevention drawing Dr. Callender to open the first of New York’s street academies.  These storefront schools sought to prepare black and Hispanic high school dropouts for college careers.  He leaves behind thousands of alums turned from high school dropout to college graduate.

Leonard Herzenberg 1932 to four-weeks-ago Sunday

Dr. Leonard Herzenberg’s healthy combination of sloth and boredom saved countless lives.  Plagued by the conspicuously dull task of sorting cells–a task described as “watching a parade of 10,000 men in drab suits, spotting the two wearing yellow ties and the three wearing pink ones, and then pulling the five out of line without anyone losing a step.”  He teamed up with his lab-partner wife and created the “fluorescence-activated cell sorter” which automated the eye-and-mind numbing cell-sorting chore.  He leaves behind advances in immunology, stem-cell research, and treatment for cancer, H.I.V., and countless other illnesses made possible by this fancy new machine.


Hypodermic syringe courtesy Flickr user hitthatswitch


Perry Petrich, SJ   /   @ppetrich   /   All posts by Perry