The Ghost Of Paul Revere Announces Spring 2019 Tour Dates

first_imgBuxton, ME-native trio The Ghost of Paul Revere has revealed a new string of tour dates for spring 2019.Coming in strong on the heels of a nation-wide tour, capped off with a sold-out show at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club and a jam-packed set on Cayamo Cruise, the foot-stompin’, folk-hollerin’ boys of Maine will kick things off in the Northeast before embarking on a trek throughout New England.The band’s route will also include appearances at Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Festival, featuring Greensky Bluegrass, Old Crow Medicine Show, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters and more. The Ghost of Paul Revere is also scheduled to perform at the inaugural 4848 Festival, which features the likes of Umphrey’s McGee, Greensky, the Stringdusters, and Railroad Earth.In addition to the newly added stops, the band will join Trampled by Turtles on the road for a run of dates in late February and early March.Below, you can watch The Ghost of Paul Revere’s 2018 music video for “Little Bird”:The Ghost of Paul Revere – “Little Bird” [Music Video][Video: Ghost of Paul Revere]You can check out a full list of The Ghost of Paul Revere’s upcoming tour dates below. For more information, head over to the band’s website.The Ghost of Paul Revere Upcoming Tour Dates2.23 — Carrabassett Valley, ME — Sugarloaf2.26 — Tulsa, OK — Cain’s Ballroom^2.27 — Fayetteville, AR — George’s Majestic Lounge^2.28 — Dallas, TX — The Rustic^2.29 — New Braunfels, TX — Gruene Hall^3.2 — Houston, TX — White Oak Music Hall^3.9 — Stratton, VT — Stratton Mountain Resort4.18 — Hoboken, NJ — White Eagle Hall*4.19 — Fairfield, CT — StageOne*4.20 — Providence, RI — Columbus Theatre*5.24 — Evans, GA — Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que5.30 — Derry, NH — Tupelo Music Hall*5.31 — Bethlehem, NH — The Colonial Theatre*6.01 — Plymouth, MA — The Spire Center For Performing Arts*7.13 — Snowshoe, WV — 4848 Festival**=new date^=supporting Trampled by TurtlesView Tour Dateslast_img read more

Camp Euforia Announces 2019 Lineup: Eufórquestra, TAUK, Kung Fu, The Ghost Of Paul Revere, More

first_imgToday, Camp Euforia has announced the lineup for their 16th annual edition, set to take place from July 18th–20th in Lone Tree, Iowa.As the event website notes, Camp Euforia started in 2004 as Eufórquestra’s “Fan Appreciation Party.” Since then, it has grown into a full-blown music festival featuring 20+ artists over three days on two stages.The lineup for Camp Euforia 2019 is led by two sets from host band Eufórquestra, one of which will be a special “Euf Zeppelin” set featuring vocalist Kim Dawson (Pimps of Joytime, Matador! Soul Sounds). Additional headliners include TAUK, Kung Fu, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, and The Ghost of Paul Revere.Camp Euforia 2019 will also feature performances from Mungion, Old Salt Union, Aaron Kamm and the One Drops, Heatbox, Sophistafunk, Marbin, The Candymakers, Natty Nation, The Dawn, The Baberhood Bluegrass Band, Grosso Family Band, Matt G Funkma$ter, Winterland, The Breaker Brothers, The Belies, Jaden Carlson Band, Dr. Z’s Experiment, Nikki Lunden, Matt Woods, and DJ Buddha, as well as a special Camp Euforia All-Stars set.Early bird tickets go on sale this Friday, February 22nd, at 10 a.m. local time. For more information or to grab your tickets when they go on sale, head to the event website here.last_img read more

Rising seas, raising hopes

first_imgBy the end of this century, sea levels in the Netherlands may rise more than 4 feet, a troubling prospect in a country where 70 percent of GNP is produced in protected areas that are below sea level.To cope with the prospect of fast-rising water, two schools of thought have evolved in the nation of vulnerable delta cities: Use engineering know-how to build up dikes and improve pumping technology, or open cities to the sea in such a way that natural systems can co-exist with human habitation.The second course — call it a “proto-ecological intervention” — is where Harvard comes in. Over the past two years, students at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) have puzzled over what they call the country’s “climate conundrum” in a project funded by the Netherlands.In a daylong series of studio presentations at Gund Hall on Monday (May 3), the 14 students from the departments of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning and Design presented their capstone ideas to Dutch officials. Some watched on a trans-Atlantic video link. Others were in low-slung Room B-04, where the four walls were lined with massive poster boards on wheels.The students, part of a research project led by GSD professors Pierre Belanger and Nina-Marie Lister, focused on Dordrecht, the oldest city in Holland. The historic market city, which is bounded by five rivers, is at risk from more than rising sea levels. It faces sea surges from the west, river flooding from the east, and dramatic subsidence in “polders,” the tracts of land captive within dikes.One idea already afloat in the Netherlands is to seal Dordrecht behind a kind of super-dike. That would be the culmination of the world-class civil engineering that the Dutch have practiced for more than 500 years. (Per capita, Dutch expenditures on flood defense — 2 billion Euros a year — match U.S. military spending.)But other Dutch officials are drawn to going beyond traditional dikes and pumps. Closing the city off from any influence of the rivers or the sea is a bad idea, said Ellen Kelder, Dordrecht’s water manager, who attended the presentations along with city planner Judit Bax.Bring in ecology, she said, echoing some of the Harvard presenters. It’s important to make the seacoast city a kind of plastic entity that will flex with natural rhythms instead of defying them.The city was part of a Dutch “delta commission” formed after catastrophic seacoast flooding in 1953, said Bax. Last year, a new delta commission was formed to look ahead to 2100. One idea proposed, she said, would be to open up that closed system to the forces of nature, including tides, flood surges, and rising water levels.The basic idea is simple, said Kelder: “living with water.”Bring in the issue of energy, she added. After all, Holland’s present flood control structures and pumping systems require almost 100,000 barrels of foreign oil a day, and fossil fuels are finite.Dordrecht is one of 40 Dutch cities that are questioning the primacy of engineering-only solutions for what they call “flood defense.” By 2015, each city will develop a strategic plan in the national project called “Room for the River.”Dordrecht also helped form “Drecht cities,” a consortium of riverside towns looking at regional solutions to flooding.The city has teamed with Spanish venture capitalists on the Urban Flood Management Project, part of a bid to be in the forefront of a global conversation on how cities will cope with climate change.But Kelder still fears that any water safety discussion in Holland will stay focused only on engineering solutions. Instead, she said, “We are looking for a paradigm shift.”The GSD students had the same game-shifting notion. Their projects looked at a future Dordrecht region. It could be a place where algae are farmed for energy, and where fertilizer-intensive dry-land agriculture gives way to farming mollusks.It could be “depopulated” as residents are drawn to flood-resilient housing outside the dikes and existing streets alternately become public spaces and flood-control mechanisms.  Why shouldn’t there be fewer people in the city, asked one presentation. After all, in sprawling Dordrecht, 60 percent of the land mass employs only 1 percent of its citizens. Or the future Dordrecht could be a place of “gradient urbanism,” where dikes are expanded to become places to live. Or it could be a place of “climate capitalism,” where the adaptation to sea level rise is the engine for new industries.One project noted that by the middle of this century, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in flood-prone delta regions. A future Dordrecht that relied on “ecological interventions” to supplement engineering solutions could become a coastal urban template for the world.Bax, the city planner, liked the sweep of the Harvard presentations, and that they were created by “people from another continent, with a fresh view.”To summarize and illustrate their complex projects, the students designed and printed a “Depoldering Dordrecht” brochure, complete with faux ads that anticipate a future in commercial concert with the sea. There were ads for estuary-cultivated pearls, “one-stop shopping” for oysters and other bivalves, and a bumper sticker that read: “We [Heart] Floods.”Of all the ads, said Belanger, “The one for Prada hip boots is my favorite.”But what can Harvard possibly bring to the Dutch, who have so expertly been holding back the sea for centuries?“A fresh look,” said Tracy Metz, a Dutch urbanist, architecture writer, and critic who originated the idea of a Harvard-Holland partnership. She was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard from 2006 to 2007.“The Dutch will always have to pump,” but you can’t only pump, said Metz, especially since many of the hard-engineering solutions of recent decades have come with a steep ecological price. “We want to find new ways of living with water and living with nature.”The Harvard project might help, said Kelder, calling it a collection of ideas that are smart, innovative, and “beautifully presented.”But the next step has to be translating these ideas into something that politicians, businessmen, and citizens will understand. “Everyone has to see the benefits. Then we will go there,” said Kelder.Meanwhile, ideas should be supplemented with a pilot project that interrupts the engineering-only dialogue. “It’s very important to break up the discussion,” she said, sitting near the bright student posters. “And you don’t break up a discussion with just this.”Metz said the Harvard-Holland project could go into a third year, though discussions are continuing. If it did, GSD students and faculty would deal with issues in Rotterdam, the largest Dutch port.As for Dordrecht, said Kelder: Two years is a start for a university-government collaboration, but 10 or 20 years makes more sense.“It’s brilliant what they’ve done,” she said of the GSD students. “Now we need to do something with it.”The May 4 presentations were sponsored by the Harvard-Netherlands Project on Climate Change, Water, Land Development, and Adaptation, in association with the Netherlands Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management; the Netherlands Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment; and the Netherlands-based Deltares Institute. Participating graduate students — who spend a week in Dordrecht in March — were Casey Elmer, Jianhang Gao, Kimberly Garza, Julia Grinkrug, Eamonn Hutton, Haein Lee, Jae Yoon Lee, James Moore, Abhishek Sharma, Soomin Shin, Richa Shukla, Gyoung Tak Park, Sarah Thomas, and Laci Videmsky.last_img read more

Competing for a mate can shorten lifespan

first_img“Love stinks!” the J. Geils band told the world in 1980, and while you can certainly argue whether or not this tender and ineffable spirit of affection has a downside, working hard to find it does.  It may even shorten your life.A new study by Harvard researchers shows that ratios between males and females affect human longevity.  Men who reach sexual maturity in a context in which they far outnumber women live, on average, three months less than men whose competition for a mate isn’t as stiff.  The steeper the gender ratio (also known as the operational sex ratio), the sharper the decline in lifespan.“At first blush, a quarter of a year may not seem like much, but it is comparable to the effects of, say, taking a daily aspirin, or engaging in moderate exercise,” says Nicholas Christakis, senior author on the study and professor of medicine and medical sociology at Harvard Medical School as well as professor of sociology at Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  “A  65-year-old man is typically expected to live another 15.4 years.  Removing three months from this block of time is significant.”These results are published in the August issue of the journal Demography.An association between gender ratios and longevity had been established through studies of animals before, but never in humans.  To search for a link in people, Christakis collaborated with researchers Lei Jin, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Felix Elwert of the University of Wisconsin, and Jeremy Freese of Northwestern University.The researchers looked at two distinct datasets.First, they examined information from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, a long-term project involving individuals who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957.  The researchers calculated the gender ratios of each high-school graduating class, then ascertained how long the graduates went on to live.  After adjusting for a multitude of factors, they discovered that 50 years later men from classes with an excess of boys did not live as long as men whose classes were gender-balanced.  By one measurement, mortality for a 65-year-old who had experienced a steeper sex ratio decades earlier as a teenager was 1.6 percent higher than one who hadn’t faced such] stiff competition for female attention.Next, the research team compared Medicare claims data with census data for a complete national sample of more than 7 million men throughout the United States and arrived at similar results (for technical reasons, the study was unable to evaluate results for women who outnumbered men at sexual maturity).Much attention has been paid to the deleterious social effects of gender imbalances in countries such as China and India, where selective abortion, internal migration and other factors have in some areas resulted in men outnumbering women by up to twenty percent.  Such an environment, already associated with a marked increase in violence and human trafficking, appears to shorten life as well.The researchers have not investigated mechanisms that might account for this phenomenon, but Christakis suspects that it arises from a combination of social and biological factors. After all, finding a mate can be stressful, and stress as a contributor to health disorders has been well documented.Says Christakis, “We literally come to embody the social world around us, and what could be more social than the dynamics of sexual competition?”The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.last_img read more

The speedup of climate change

first_imgWhat is the evidence for global climate change? How can it be combated? Can our political system respond effectively to the threat of catastrophic changes in the environment?Daniel Schrag, Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology and professor of environmental science and engineering, addressed these questions with members of the Class of 2014, who filled Science Center B Friday (Aug. 27) for the 2010 Opening Days lecture. The talk, titled “Twilight of the Anthropocene? Confronting the Climate-Energy Challenge and the Future of Human Civilization,” was a preview of Schrag’s new course.After a short introduction and welcome from Professor Jay Harris, chair of Harvard’s Standing Committee on General Education, Schrag took the podium. He projected a graph of changes in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over the past 650,000 years. There have been increases in CO2 throughout the Earth’s history, he said, some of them quite abrupt. Yet even these took place over periods of around 10,000 years. Since fossil fuels became a major energy source only 150 years ago, however, carbon levels have skyrocketed to almost unprecedented levels. As a result, the global climate is now in uncharted territory.“We haven’t seen this in 35 million years, so we can’t make an accurate prediction,” he said. “The last time carbon levels looked like this, palm trees flourished in Wyoming.”Responding to critics who call climate change concerns alarmist, Schrag said that the danger for humanity is actually that science is too conservative. He said that scientists seek a “95 percent confidence interval” before making a claim about a phenomenon or its consequences. As a result, policymakers treat climate change as a “high-consequence, low-probability” event, even as the process accelerates.Schrag listed possible solutions to the problem — including conservation, alternative energy, and carbon capture and storage — but said that the biggest obstacles for humanity were political rather than technological. Wyoming, for instance, gets 95 percent of its electricity from coal, a major source of CO2 emissions, while Massachusetts gets only 25 percent of its power from it. Both states have two votes in the U.S. Senate, however, even though the population of Massachusetts is many times that of Wyoming. This makes it difficult to pass climate or energy legislation.“Politically, this is a big challenge,” he said. “There are winners and losers.”After his remarks, Schrag took questions from the audience, and members of the Class of 2014 were eager to engage him. One student, Michael Lukas, asked if policymakers ought to focus their efforts on conservation or on attempts to adapt to climate change.“We have to do both,” said Schrag, a member of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. “If we burn all the coal, we’re in real trouble. At the same time, we’re experiencing real climate change right now.”Student Nick Perkons asked if it was possible that atmospheric carbon would stabilize on its own, albeit at a very high level.“We know enough about the carbon cycle to know that CO2 will go up if we continue to burn fossil fuels,” Schrag replied. “I’ve got no problem with palm trees in Wyoming or crocodiles in Greenland. The problem is that we’re adapted to this world. So it’s about the rate of change.”The session was sponsored by the Harvard College Program in General Education.last_img read more

Progress on obesity

first_imgAn international consortium led by Harvard Medical School (HMS) researcher Joel Hirschhorn has made significant inroads into uncovering the genetic basis of obesity by identifying 18 new gene sites associated with overall obesity and 13 that affect fat distribution.The studies include data from nearly a quarter of a million participants, the largest genetic investigation of human traits to date. The papers, both from the GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) consortium — which consists of more than 400 scientists from 280 research institutions worldwide — will appear in Nature Genetics.“Different people have different susceptibilities to obesity,” says Hirschhorn, an associate professor of genetics at HMS, an assistant in medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, and senior associate member and coordinator of the Metabolism Initiative at the Broad Institute. “Some don’t rigorously watch what they eat or how much they exercise and still resist gaining weight, while others constantly struggle to keep their weight from skyrocketing. Some of this variability is genetic, and our goal was to increase understanding of why different people have different inherited susceptibility to obesity.”Because most of the genes implicated in these studies have never been suspected of having a role in obesity, the findings will begin to shed light on the underlying biology, which may lead to better categorization and treatment of obesity, said Hirschhorn, a senior author on the overall obesity paper and involved in both.The overall obesity study looked for genetic determinants of body mass index (BMI), calculated as an individual’s weight in kilograms over height in meters squared. Investigators combined data from 46 studies involving nearly 124,000 people and confirmed the top results in almost 126,000 individuals to identify a total of 32 sites consistently associated with BMI, 18 of which are new. One of the novel variants is in the gene encoding for a receptor protein that responds to signals from the gut to influence insulin levels and metabolism. Another variant is near a gene known to encode proteins affecting appetite.“One of the most exciting parts of this work is that most of the BMI-associated variants identified are in or near genes that have never before been connected to obesity. Through this work we are discovering that the underlying biological underpinnings of obesity are many, varied, and largely uncharacterized,” says Elizabeth K. Speliotes, an HMS instructor in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad, the first author of the BMI study, and also involved in both studies.Although the effects of each individual variant were modest, individuals who carried more than 38 BMI-increasing variants were on average 15 to 20 pounds heavier than those who carried fewer than 22 such variants. However, even in combination these variants explain only a small fraction of the overall variation in body weight. The researchers found that the combined genetic information from the variants was only slightly better than flipping a coin in predicting whether an individual would be obese, probably because many other factors, both genetic and environmental, contribute to weight.The second study looked at genetic associations with how fat is distributed in the body.Studies have shown that fat stored in the abdomen increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, even after adjusting for obesity. In contrast, fat stored in the hips and thighs may actually protect against diabetes and high blood pressure. The investigators examined the genetic determinants of waist-to-hip ratio, a measure of fat distribution, analyzing data from 77,000 participants in 32 studies. The regions identified in the analysis were then checked against data from another 29 studies including more than 113,500 individuals. This revealed 14 gene regions associated with waist-to-hip ratio, adding 13 new regions and confirming the one previously known association.Seven of the identified genetic variations have much stronger effects in women than in men, suggesting they may underlie some of the normal difference in fat distribution between the sexes. Although these identified gene regions explain only about 1 percent of the general variation in waist-to-hip ratios, the authors note, the findings point toward specific biological mechanisms involved in regulating where the body stores fat. The regions affecting fat distribution implicate genes involved in regulating cholesterol, triglyceride levels, insulin, and insulin resistance, which may improve understanding of how fat deposits in certain body locations are even more tightly linked to metabolic disorders than to obesity.“By finding genes that have an important role in influencing fat distribution and the ways in which that differs between men and women, we hope to home in on the crucial underlying biological processes,” says Cecilia Lindgren of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University, a senior researcher on the waist-to-hip ratio study who was also involved in both papers.Additional lead authors of the overall obesity study include investigators from Oxford University and Cambridge University in the U.K., the University of Michigan, the National Cancer Institute, University of North Carolina, deCODE Genetics, and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Lead authors of the fat distribution paper include investigators from Regensburg University Medical Center, the University of Michigan, Harvard School of Public Health, deCODE Genetics, Boston University, the Framingham Heart Study, Wellcome Trust, Sanger Institute, and the University of North Carolina.The studies were supported by grants from a range of institutions, including the National Institutes of Health.last_img read more

Reinhold Brinkmann, musicologist, 76

first_imgReinhold Brinkmann, a distinguished scholar whose writings on music of the 19th and 20th centuries made an indelible mark on musicology in Germany and the United States, died on Oct. 10, after a long illness, in Eckernförde, Germany. He was 76.Brinkmann taught in Harvard’s Department of Music from 1985 until his retirement in 2003, serving as James Edward Ditson Professor of Music and department chair. He came to Harvard from Berlin, where he had been a professor at the Hochschule der Künste since 1980, and prior to that was professor of musicology at the University of Marburg. In 2001, he was the first musicologist to be awarded the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize.His writings span a broad range of topics, including the Second Viennese School (especially Schoenberg), the Romantic Lied tradition, Wagner, Skryabin, Varèse, Eisler, and Ives. Brinkmann also lived and breathed new music, and enjoyed close friendships with Helmut Lachenmann, Wolfgang Rihm, and Luciano Berio, who dedicated his Sonata per Pianforte Solo to him in 2001. Brinkmann’s work combined intimate knowledge of the music, often shown in detailed, painstaking analyses, with an awareness of social and political backgrounds and ramifications. He published and edited many books and essays.He leaves behind his wife, Dorothea Brinkmann. The Department of Music will host a memorial for Brinkmann in the spring.last_img read more

The bad news on Afghanistan

first_imgReported peace talks between top Afghan officials and the Taliban aren’t actually happening, and are instead part of a disinformation campaign intended to demoralize Taliban field commanders who wonder what their leaders are up to, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said Thursday (Oct. 21).Hersh, who spoke at Harvard’s Center for Government and International Studies before a standing-room-only crowd, offered the phantom talks as part of a “gloomy” picture of the Afghan war that has few prospects for the United States exiting cleanly or soon.“It’s a terrible message to give you,” Hersh said at the end of his riveting, but sometimes rambling, 45-minute talk. “It’s a glum narrative. I just don’t see the plan. … I don’t see how he [Obama] is going to get out of this mess.”Hersh, a contributor to The New Yorker and one of the nation’s top investigative journalists, came to fame in the late 1960s for his reporting on the Vietnam War’s My Lai Massacre, which won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1970. In the decades since, he’s written about a variety of complicated — and controversial — subjects, including the downing of Korean Air Flight 007 by the Soviet Union, the invasion of Iraq, and prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib.Hersh delivered the annual Warren and Anita Manshel Lecture in American Foreign Policy, sponsored by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Previous Manshel lecturers include South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrook. Hersh was introduced by Weatherhead Center director Beth Simmons, the Dillon Professor of International Affairs.Simmons said Hersh’s address was fitting because the Weatherhead Center’s mission is to study and shed light on American foreign policy, something Hersh has been doing for decades. She said part of the nation’s character is that it is open to alternate explanations of official actions, something Hersh has often provided.In his talk, Hersh expressed disappointment at the Obama administration’s actions so far, saying that President Obama adopted many of the Bush-Cheney administration’s foreign policy priorities and strategies. Obama, he said, has “abdicated,” caving into the wishes of the top generals, most of whom rose through the ranks under the previous administration. He also questioned Obama’s assertion that American troops would withdraw from Afghanistan next year, saying that a clean exit at this point will be difficult.“We have a commander in chief who refuses to be the commander in chief. I don’t know why because he’s as good as advertised,” Hersh said. “He disappointed a lot of people.”Hersh drew a negative picture of how government operates, saying that across decades people who disagree with official positions have been marginalized in several administrations. The problem was compounded after the 9/11 attacks, he said, by U.S. journalists’ unwillingness to take a hard look at government actions, amounting to the press failing the American people.His talk touched on a variety of trouble spots, including Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and several difficult topics, including secret prisons — he says they still operate — Iraqi oil, racism in the military, and the disconnect between how Americans are viewed in the world (largely favorably) and how our national policy is viewed (largely unfavorably).In Afghanistan, Hersh said, the official policy is not to talk with the Taliban, but to kill them. But the wrong people are being killed — mainly moderate Taliban. He scoffed at the idea that peace talks may be under way, saying, there was “not a chance” they were happening. Though the official U.S. policy is to train the Afghan army so it can stand on its own and American troops can leave, dissenting voices that believe there’s little chance of that happening have been marginalized, he said.“No opposition permitted,’ Hersh said. “There you are. The press should have done it, but certainly after 9/11 we were part of the team. Certainly we failed the American people.”last_img read more

Memorial service for the Rev. Gomes

first_imgA memorial service celebrating the life and ministry of the Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, will be held in the Memorial Church on April 6 at 11 a.m. All are welcome to attend.The service will be broadcast live on Harvard’s radio station, WHRB 95.3 FM. For those outside the Cambridge area, WHRB provides live Internet streaming from its website.Read Gomes’ full obituary.last_img

How doctors think, past and present

first_imgWhite man’s diseases, more than guns or famine, wiped out Native Americans. It’s a ubiquitous, simple argument, found everywhere from children’s American history textbooks to Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize–winning tome “Guns, Germs, and Steel.” The explanation says that when European colonists landed on North American shores, they brought with them a vast array of deadly diseases for which native populations lacked immunity.There was only one problem, according to David Jones: From his standpoint as a student of medicine and history, the theory didn’t make sense.“There was a big disconnect between what thoughtful medical scientists would know about infectious disease and what many historians and scientists were saying about it,” Jones said.The question became his dissertation and then his first book, “Rationalizing Epidemics: Meanings and Uses of American Indian Mortality since 1600,” a sweeping survey that cut through much of the conventional wisdom about why Native Americans have long suffered worse health than their white or black counterparts.Now, as Harvard’s first A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine, Jones ’93, A.M. ’97, M.D. ’01, Ph.D. ’01 will try to bridge the gap among scientific, clinical, and historical understandings about medicine that plagued him as a graduate student.Jones’ work tore down many of the popular arguments about why native populations first died in the early modern era and exposed the social factors such as poverty, displacement, and malnutrition that have long left Native Americans more vulnerable to epidemics, from small pox in the 17th century to diabetes and obesity today.“I think it’s just a critically important book, and it’s extremely impressive in that it was done by a young scholar,” said Allan Brandt, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a former professor of Jones. “His work has a lot of strong historical content, but it’s very forward looking.”In his dual appointment at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Medical School (HMS), Jones will have the difficult task of looking to the past and future of medicine simultaneously.But, as Jones argues, the two are closely linked.“Historical arguments then serve as precedents for contemporary arguments,” he said. “For example, if this genetic determinist theory of [American Indians having] no immunity captures our imagination in the way that it does, what kind of precedent does that set for how we explain health disparities today?”Just as genetics dominate the cutting edge of medical research today, he said, they also loom large in the study of diseases past. Jones’ mission — whether in studying history or teaching medical students in the present — is to make sure social factors get their due in explaining disease. In the process, he tries to reveal the unconscious biases in doctors’ thinking.Jones grew up in Wellesley, Mass., and attended Phillips Exeter Academy, then Harvard. At the College, he dabbled in history, paleontology, geology, and premedical courses, completing a senior thesis in the history of geology under the legendary evolutionary biologist — and notoriously imperious professor — Stephen Jay Gould.“It took me a long time to get up the nerve to talk to him,” Jones said. “I think he was just pleased someone had finally come by his office hours.”He continued on to HMS, where he got involved with a study of Cold War-era government radiation testing on unwitting human subjects, a scandal that had just been uncovered. The work fascinated him and persuaded him to put his medical training on hold to pursue a doctorate in the history of science, then an uncommon course of study.“The fear was always that people will always ask you, ‘Why aren’t you trying to cure cancer?’ ” Jones said. “But in working on a project that was in the news, the importance of history became self-evident.”After finishing both degrees in 2001, Jones completed his residency in psychiatry at McLean Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. Hoping to balance his academic and clinical passions, he took an assistant professorship in Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and in his spare time worked shifts at Cambridge Hospital’s psychiatric emergency service — “a fascinating site for anyone interested in the social roots of disease.”In 2006, Jones made his way back to HMS when the school decided to revamp its curriculum to include a greater emphasis on social science courses. HMS leading lights Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim (now president of Dartmouth College), and Brandt hired Jones to help them create and teach a mandatory course for first-year students in social medicine.Jones’ behind-the-scenes grunt work paid off, as students responded enthusiastically to the course. Last year, Jones was one of two winners of HMS’s prestigious Donald O’Hara Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching.“He can be soft-spoken and low-key, but students really appreciate his commitment, his wry sense of humor, and his analytic sophistication,” Brandt said. “He cares deeply about other people.”Jones is now turning his research to how doctors make treatment decisions, and the subtle ways in which outside factors, from reimbursement to public policy to medical culture, influence what constitutes “evidence-based medicine.” His study of the changing perception of heart disease and its treatment in the 20th century — a complete departure from his past work — will be published in two forthcoming books.After juggling three jobs over the past several years, Jones breathed an audible sigh of relief at the thought of spending the upcoming academic year in one place. But he’s under no illusions about his new role.The message that came with his tenure offer was clear, he said with his trademark wry grin. “They told me, ‘It’s a sign of how much we respect you, and how hard we expect you to work.’ ”last_img read more