Our Debt to a Great Scientist
Inflammatory pain in lupus and like diseases can drain our inner resources and speed the progression of our illness. Just imagine what life must have been like for folks like us before the development of cortisone. Without cortisone, a host of medications would be missing from our lives. Before cortisone, many of us lived much more painful and shorter lives, with more severe disability from deforming and debilitating disease effects.
Some of us must also cope with vision defects, such as glaucoma. In this, a drug named physostigmine has made the difference between darkness and light, smeary blur and sharp sight, for so many.
With all our struggles, coping with excruciating pain, with swollen, twisted joints and losing our sight at the same time can be devastating. Our job security, safety and survival all at risk and nothing to do but do our very best just to keep going. No medication works equally well for everyone but without these drugs, there’d be no chance of an equalizer at all, no protection for any of us.
Think of the beggars depicted in antique stories and pictures, hands and feet wrapped in rags to cushion against the cold and pain, cast out from employment because of their infirmities. People just like us struggled to eat, maintain any kind of shelter and simply survive, in the days before the medications that have changed and even saved so many lives since then.
We owe a huge debt to research scientist Percy L. Julian, who pursued a career in human service against incredible odds, labored long frustrating hours in research labs and developed these powerful medications for our benefit.
February 6th, 2007, Mr. Julian will be honored as one of the most important scientists of the 20th century. PBS television’s “Nova” science series will run “Forgotten Genius,” a documentary on the life of this high achiever and dedicated humanitarian. His accomplishments and concern for others without prejudice or reservation may be even more remarkable considering his great-grandmother bore deep scars from beatings inflicted during her days as human property, before America’s Civil War.
In America, February is Black History Month, when we formally honor the accomplishments and contributions of citizens whose ancestors came up from Africa. If we can remember Percy L. Julian when we ease our pain or see our loved ones faces, and then visualize his potential in those around us, we might be making a considerable contribution of our own.NOVA “Forgotten Genius”
Tuesday, February 6, 2007, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET