Racing to Pittsbugh by Donald Hricik


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January    Racing to Pittsbugh by Donald Hricik

This 2009 book was written by one of our own, Dr. Hricik, the chair of the
Nephrology Department. This book has received fabulous reviews and we're
hoping that Dr. Hricik will partake in a discussion group at the end of the
month about the book and being a physician-author.

Synopsis: On Sept 11, 2001, as the United States is attacked by terrorists,

an internationally renowned transplant cardiologist delivers the keynote
address at a Paris symposium. As Dr. Dan Ulek hears of the unfolding events
that have turned the world upside down, his thoughts drift to his wife,
family, and colleagues back home in Cleveland. The work of fiction, based on
the experiences of Dr. Hricik, details his son's near-death experience and
the main character's own serious illness, highlighting his rediscovery of
the meaning of friendship, of survival, of being a doctor, and of being true
to one's heart.

February    The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying
Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World

Synopsis: It's the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of

the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure-garbage
removal, clean water, sewers-necessary to support its rapidly expanding
population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying
disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a
physician and a local curate are spurred to action-and ultimately solve the
most pressing medical riddle of their time.

In a triumph of multidisciplinary thinking, Johnson illuminates the

intertwined histories of the spread of disease, the rise of cities, and the
nature of scientific inquiry, offering both a riveting history and a
powerful explanation of how it has shaped the world we live in.

This is an fascinating read about the discovery of cholera and the

inception of public health!

    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby, Jeremy
Leggatt (Translator)

Synopsis: In December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the 43-year-old editor of

French Elle, suffered a massive stroke that left him permanently paralyzed,
a victim of "locked in syndrome." Once known for his gregariousness and wit,
Bauby now finds himself imprisoned in an inert body, able to communicate
only by blinking his left eye. The miracle is that in doing so he was able
to compose this stunningly eloquent memoir.
In a voice that is by turns wistful and mischievous, angry and sardonic,
Bauby gives us a celebration of the liberating power of consciousness: what
it is like to spend a day with his children, to imagine lying in bed beside
his wife, to conjure up the flavor of delectable meals even as he is fed
through at tube. Most of all, this triumphant book lets us witness an
indomitable spirit and share in the pure joy of its own survival.

April    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Synopsis: A sweeping, emotionally riveting novel-an enthralling family saga

of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a
beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in

Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their

father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a
shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers
on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics-their passion
for the same woman-that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of
medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding
refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City
hospital. When the past catches up to him-nearly destroying him-Marion must
entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world:
the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.
An unforgettable journey into one man's remarkable life, and an epic story
about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.

The author, Dr. Verghese, is a Standford Internist who was recently

featured in this NY Times article : "Physician Revives a Dying Art: The

May  The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

Synopsis: The modern world has given us stupendous know-how. Yet avoidable

failures continue to plague us in health care, government, the law, the
financial industry-in almost every realm of organized activity. And the
reason is simple: the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded
our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people-consistently,
correctly, safely. We train longer, specialize more, use ever-advancing

technologies, and still we fail. Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument

that we can do better, using the simplest of methods: the checklist. In
riveting stories, he reveals what checklists can do, what they can't, and
how they could bring about striking improvements in a variety of fields,
from medicine and disaster recovery to professions and businesses of all
kinds. And the insights are making a difference. Already, a simple surgical
checklist from the World Health Organization designed by following the ideas
described here has been adopted in more than twenty countries as a standard
for care and has been heralded as "the biggest clinical invention in thirty

June    The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha
Mukherjee           *Named one of the Best Books of 2010

Synopsis: The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane

"biography" of cancer-from its first documented appearances thousands of
years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure,
control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.
Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha
Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist's precision, a
historian's perspective, and a biographer's passion. The result is an
astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived
with-and perished from-for more than five thousand years. The story of
cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance, but also
of hubris, paternalism, and misperception. Mukherjee recounts centuries of
discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his

predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely

resourceful adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily
vanquished in an all-out "war against cancer." The book reads like a
literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist. From the Persian Queen
Atossa, whose Greek slave cut off her malignant breast, to the
nineteenth-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to
Mukherjee's own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is
about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in
order to survive-and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease.
Riveting, urgent, and surprising, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a
fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. It is an
illuminating book that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to

demystify cancer.


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