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In Memory of Eponyms

When I was learning biology many years ago, structures and disorders named for their discoverers not only eased memorization, but added an historical dimension that I sorely miss. Turner's syndrome, for example, conjured up an immediate image of the good Dr. Henry Turner. At a medical conference in 1938, he described seven young women in his endocrinology practice with the same strange set of symptoms: folds of skin on the back of the neck, malformed elbows, and lack of secondary sexual characte

Ricki Lewis
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When I was learning biology many years ago, structures and disorders named for their discoverers not only eased memorization, but added an historical dimension that I sorely miss. Turner's syndrome, for example, conjured up an immediate image of the good Dr. Henry Turner. At a medical conference in 1938, he described seven young women in his endocrinology practice with the same strange set of symptoms: folds of skin on the back of the neck, malformed elbows, and lack of secondary sexual characteristics. Turner syndrome today is a simple "XO syndrome," inadvertently advertised on Victoria's Secret Valentine panties emblazoned with the symbols for kisses and hugs. But Turner's syndrome revealed the limitations of eponyms, because eight years earlier, an English physician had made the same observation. In the United Kingdom, the condition is called Ullrich syndrome, in his honor.

Oh, how I miss the noble islets of Langerhans; pancreatic islets just...

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