Monday, July 16, 2018

Randi Hutter Epstein's "Aroused"

Randi Hutter Epstein is a medical writer, lecturer at Yale University, Writer in Residence at Yale Medical School, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is the author of Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank (2010) and the new book, Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to Aroused and reported the following:
Aroused traces the history of hormones and much to my delight (but no original intention) spotlights quite a few women with moxie who were instrumental in paving new directions in endocrinology.

Page 99 of my book highlights a female pioneer in medicine, who defied the odds in a few ways.
In 1942, the team published a larger study in the Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. They also renamed the pregnancy hormone. Ascheim and Zondek called it prolan, from proles, the Latin word for offspring. Seegar called it chorionic gonadotropin.
Seegar is Georgeanna Seegar Jones. Georgeanna Jones was the first director of the department of reproductive endocrinology at Johns Hopkins in the 1940s, when the field was, well, to use a pun—just conceived. She, along with her husband, Dr. Howard W. Jones, would go on to create America’s first test tube baby. But Dr. Georgeanna, as she was called, did so much more: She also provided crucial advice to Dr. Robert Edwards enabling him to create the world’s first IVF baby. The chapter explains the science and her incredible marriage (like seriously incredible—she and her husband shared desks throughout their entire careers).

The page talks about her landmark discovery she made when she was a medical student. She proved that the so-called pregnancy hormone comes from the placenta, not the pituitary in the brain as previously thought. Her research that led to this paper was conducted when she was a medical student. She used her first initial and middle name (Emory) instead of Georgeanna because she was told by her advisor that no one would publish a study by a woman.

Here’s two more lines from page 99: “Seegar not only solved a medical riddle; she named the pregnancy hormone and became the first woman ever to dine at the Maryland Club.”

To honor her achievement, a group of doctors organized a lunch at the Maryland Club. Shortly before the afternoon event, the doctors were told that Georgeanna could not attend because women were not allowed. When the endocrinologists threatened to go elsewhere, the club reluctantly allowed one Dr. Georgeanna.

This page encapsulates the key points in my book: pioneering research depends on curious and persistent scientists. And courageous women (with chutzpah) paved the way for this burgeoning field.
Visit Randi Hutter Epstein's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Randi Hutter Epstein, Ellie and Dexter.

--Marshal Zeringue