Elaine S. Jaffe starts this volume off with her autobiographical article “The Microscope as a Tool for Disease Discovery—A Personal Voyage.” Her research involves the classification of hematological malignancies, and this article reveals her passion for all the things that can be discovered through the microscope as well as some surprising information about pathologists:
Looking at a microscopic slide of diseased tissue provides a wealth of information regarding the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of disease. Pathologists are very visual in their approach, and many pursue art or photography as hobbies. Most are adept at recognizing faces or images as well as discerning the varied microscopic patterns.
Sometimes political events highlight portions of our articles that I might not otherwise have noticed. Finding that our articles resonate with current events isn’t unusual, but it may strike you as surprising for an article in the Annual Review of Pathology: Mechanisms of Disease. Perhaps it is less surprising to find such resonances in an autobiography. Dr. Jaffe’s description of her parents and family, who immigrated to the United States from what is now Ukraine, is particularly timely:
My father was born in Steblov, and my mother in Ryzhanovka. My father’s father, who was a cantor, came to the United States in 1914 with his two oldest children, and he expected the rest of the family to follow once he was settled. Cousins who already lived in New York facilitated their arrival… My parents were typical of many immigrant families in their drive to succeed in their new homeland. Our house was always the center for extended family events and gatherings. Political events and intense debate dominated conversations.
Another article of interest is Walsh et al.’s “Humanized Mouse Models of Clinical Disease.” Anyone who has read much medical science realizes that we use animal models for several reasons, as the authors describe:
Animal models are used as surrogates of human biology due to the logistical and ethical restrictions of working with cell and tissue samples from human donors and the biological limitations of culture systems. Small animals such as mice and rats are widely used mammalian model systems due to their small size, ease of maintenance and handling, short reproductive cycle, sharing of genomic and physiological properties with humans, and ability to be readily manipulated genetically.
Of course, these models aren’t perfect, but they are getting closer as humanized mice are altered to more perfectly mimic human systems. I was surprised by how many issues these alterations are letting us research—for instance, to research infectious diseases immunodeficient mice can be grafted with human immune cells so researchers can study the human immune response. I have to note that we are in fact living in the future predicted by the science fiction authors I read as a child.
If you found an article in this volume that particularly interests you, please let me know in the comments!
Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.