This issue’s feature lineup begins with a tale of connections—among Yale alumni and faculty, among doctors and patients and among old school friends. As related by Jill Max, these connections made it possible for a Yale medical student to do research in Italy, and also for her mother in Serbia to receive a critical, life-changing procedure.
For our cover story, “The Virus Behind the Cancer,” Contributing Editor Jennifer Kaylin looks at a different type of connection. She traces the guesses, speculation and discoveries that led scientists to the viruses that underpin about 10 percent of all cancers. Those connections between viruses and cancer could yield clues that will put scientists on the path to vaccines and treatments.
Contributing Editor Marc Wortman donned a jumpsuit and entered the pathology labs to observe an autopsy for his article, “The Final Chapter.” Wortman examines why autopsies are so rarely done, even though it is through the autopsy that all of the patient’s medical history is connected in the last, most complete picture of his or her health.
Finally, in “When Animals Sound a Warning,” Rhea Hirshman explores the connections between human disease and the environment. Her research took her back to Captain Cook’s discovery of Hawaii and the first Italian invasion of Ethiopia. In both instances new creatures introduced new diseases, forever altering the ecology and epidemiology of those lands. That interaction is the focus of Yale’s new Center for EcoEpidemiology, which brings together scientists in both fields.
In the spring of 2004 we asked Amelia Shaw, M.P.H. ’03, who was in Haiti on a Fulbright Scholarship and making a documentary film about AIDS, to write about her experiences. Shaw cautioned us that although she’d interned at National Public Radio, she’d never written a feature-length magazine article. Her first drafts convinced us we’d made the right choice. Shaw’s passion and commitment infused every page of her story [“A Film to Finish,” Fall/Winter 2004].
This spring the Association of American Medical College’s Group on Institutional Advancement seconded our opinion by honoring Shaw with a Robert G. Fenley Writing Award of Excellence for her article. The award, given annually, recognizes outstanding writing. We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations, Amelia.