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Winter 2011

Winter 2011 Cover


Questioning Statins

Statins’ ability to control cholesterol is undeniable. Less certain, after almost 25 years, is whether benefits outweigh potential harm.

Saving Our Skin

Melanoma, almost impossible to treat after it metastasizes, appears vulnerable to two new approaches that could someday be combined.

Telltale Patterns

Scientists are uncovering thousands of metabolites, all of which provide unique evidence of bodily functions and dysfunctions.

A Beautiful Mind

Employing ingenuity, technology and an artist’s eye, scientists interpret and elucidate the brain’s stunning complexity.

Full-Body Peril

The far-flung tumors of tuberous sclerosis complex, noncancerous but hardly benign, are shedding light on how malignancies develop.

Message from MGH

In honor of Massachusetts General Hospital’s bicentennial, Peter L. Slavin and David F. Torchiana reflect on how Proto might have looked 200 years ago.

Second Opinion

Proto readers question the necessity of gene patents and discuss a return to psychedelic research.

What Caused the Plague?

Scientists say they've confirmed the bacteria behind the pestilence that killed millions in Europe in the Middle Ages.

Medical Lampoon

Douglas Farrago’s bimonthly collection of top-ten lists, editorials and “True Stories of Medicine” provides a sharp satire of the health care system.

Dealing With Delirium

Treating delirious patients can be costly and difficult, where hospitalization itself may exacerbate the disorder.

Cataloguing Environmental Toxins

From lead to mercury to trichloromethane, we're awash in chemicals, but researchers are still trying understand how our exposure affects us.

A Hospital for Boston

The city’s first hospital was founded to treat the poor—and serve as a teaching locale for Harvard Medical School.

The Healing Touch (Screen)

Medical bloggers discuss how smartphones and iPads will change the way they practice medicine.

Colonoscopy on a Cloud

With the aid of the internet and supercomputers, a virtual version of this procedure may reduce incidences of colorectal cancer.

Finding Clues Among the Rare Few

New AIDS research and the study of asymptomatic HIV-positive patients, has brought optimism to those looking to cure the disease.


Trials that involve new drugs being compared to existing versions could let inferior treatments slip through.

Occupational Hazard

When a doctor becomes addicted, colleagues may not be equipped to spot or treat it.

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