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A Community of Rambunctious Scholars Celebrating People
Who Have Made Lifesaving Discoveries And Encouraging
Students and Politicians to Read 1000 Science Stories!

Confronting Death


“Patients were dying in their villages because the only hospital was run by Christian Missionaries, and the local mullahs had preached that any Muslim who went there would be branded with the sign of the pig. So we had to go out to these remote villages with our intravenous solutions and try to coax some parents to let us use them in the huts. A few finally let us do this, and the results were so dramatic that rumors circulated that this could not be cholera after all, because they had never seen a cholera outbreak where anyone survived!”

-          David Nalin, who made the key discovery that led to Oral Rehydration Therapy


The Bangladesh smallpox epidemic was “a horrific time. Ten million Bengali refugees were streaming back home.  I was dealing with smallpox epidemics in both urban neighborhoods and dense refugee camps. The only thing you could do was pray for early detection and then mass immunization, to prevent the disease. Once someone had the disease, one-third would die. The key to success was immunizing everyone in the camps. Many refused immunization; I had to resort to holding back ration cards until they agreed to vaccination.”

-          Al Sommer, Discovered that Vitamin A deficiency is a huge childhood killer


Early on in my time in Africa, I saw about a 1000 cases in one week.  It was overwhelming because you had the whole spectrum of really sick people – and lots of them dying – a village that had been built outside the village just for people with smallpox.  They were in there by the 100s.  It’s an overwhelming disease.

-          Bill Foege, whose discovery of a 6% solution to the 100% problem of vaccinating every person on earth, led to the eradication of smallpox.


“The appalling thing of seeing young people maimed or wiped out while one can do nothing.”

-          Howard Florey, creator of penicillin