[Dr. KSS writes about medicine and biotech stocks for the Irregulars. You can find his biography and previous columns here. He has agreed to our trading restrictions, and his words and opinions are his own. Enjoy!]
Second of Three Parts
Frederick Towne Melges, M.D.
The name probably doesn’t stir the memory banks of Gumshoe readers. I find culture to be short on heroes, and put restless energy into whatif and mighthavebeen heroes, people who could be household names now were it not for time’s arrow having veered off in a capricious other direction. The Australian self-anointed nurse Sister Elizabeth Kenny improvised an approach to polio that trumped the standard orthotic regimen and allowed patients to walk again, something no doctor could claim. Niels Ryberg Finsen, a Faroese-Danish physician, won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the potent germ-killing effects of vitamin D3, which we are now rediscovering. Bet you’ve never heard of Charles Drew, MD, an obscure African-American doctor whose improbable original work made blood preservation and blood banking possible and so saved countless lives by making blood transfusion a reality. Rosalind Franklin was a Cambridge-trained British D. Phil. chemist whose work on the structure of DNA before the time of Watson and Crick was completely indispensable for their “discovery” of its double-helix structure, for which they won a 1962 Nobel Prize. Franklin was stupefyingly brilliant, and had she not died of ovarian cancer in 1958 at age 37, would likely have beaten Watson and Crick in discovering the true nature of DNA. Yet when did you last hear Kenny, Finsen, Drew and Franklin credited with anything?
Fred Melges (MEL-jis) was a Stanford University professor of psychiatry who rose briskly through the academic ranks for groundbreaking research (see, for example, his landmark study in Science) into the neuropsychiatric effects of marijuana in the sixties and seventies, a time when marijuana was a hotbutton issue, when the film “Reefer Madness” hadn’t been forgotten by certain parents. Melges was neither an advocate for pot, a user (he wasn’t a Timothy Leary), nor a foe of it. For him, it was a tool to study the psyche. He had many California study subjects use it, during which time he used refined clinical techniques to map out painstakingly its effects on mood, behavior and cognition. He saw beyond the euphoria, the recreational facets, to observe that pot conferred on ...