The chances are fairly slim, but if I were ever to have something named after me, I would prefer a star in a galaxy far, far away — or a postcard-inducing beach — rather than an abscess.

It's not easy being a green amoeba

I’m sure Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie was a rather pleasant chap who liked patting puppies and drawing unicorns — and by all reports was an outstanding surgeon and physiologist.

However, it is an interesting way to be remembered — some poor bugger’s abscess sticking out of his shin being named after you.

Fascinating, is it not? Learned medical practitioners devoting their life’s work to science, resulting in their name being solemnly invoked many years later by a poker-faced specialist diagnosing you with Schnitzler Syndrome.

Sadly nothing to do with crumbed chicken, this is a rare disease characterised by chronic hives first scratched away by a French dermatologist (according to Wikipedia, so it must be true).

The honour roll of eponymously named medical conditions is rather enlightening.

Bright’s Disease sounds actually rather cheerful, named after one Richard Bright — turns out it is a not overly tremendous chronic nephritis of the kidneys — that was suffered by the author of Dracula, Bram Stoker (there’s one for your next lull in conversation).

Speaking of those blood-filtering organs (note seamless Dracula segue), Brewer Kidney has nothing to do with drinking copious amounts of amber fluid; George Emerson Brewer knocked the top off that one.

Alliteration buffs will applaud Horton’s Headache, though sufferers of those bastard cluster headaches named after Bayard Taylor Horton will no doubt ask them to keep it down a bit.

In closing, Doctor Strangelove Syndrome is rather gripping — for the fact that it is named after a fictitious fanatical doctor in a classic film, and is otherwise known as Alien Hand Syndrome — where your mind believes it has a hand of its own — or something.

That could come in handy drawing unicorns.

Twitter: @randomswill

And check out Steve’s blog at

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEDST

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    • Louie the Fly says:

      06:11am | 27/02/13

      Steve, I don’t know why you wrote this - maybe it was for another publication and made its way to The Punch.  I couldn’t get the raison d’être for the story?

      BUT - I LOVED your tricky and clever plays on words. Corny, but fun first thing in the morning. 
      Great to read something where a journo uses language to inform and entertain.  Should be more of it.

    • Louie The Fly says:

      12:07pm | 27/02/13

      First link had me rushing to the mirror to check.
      Second Link - whikle Louie ahs LOTS of Chinese friends, Louie doesn’t own a restaurant!
      LTF wink

    • NSS says:

      08:22am | 27/02/13

      Steve, Steve, Steve. You poor little babe in the woods. You obviously have had little to do with the medical profession at large, haven’t you? Ego is the name of the game. Every time some poor sod is diagnosed with Bright’s disease or Hodgkins lymphoma, or Crohns or Huntinton’s or Parkinson’s diseases the gentlemen concerned smile down from heaven. They are immortals. They are remembered every time their name is invoked. Don’t be so silly!  Sheesh!

    • martinX says:

      09:38am | 27/02/13

      Ego is what drives you to do something solely for the fame of it. This is about peer recognition of a long period of dedicated research, often unpaid, done for the love of medicine and a genuine scientific curiosity.

    • NSS says:

      10:32am | 27/02/13

      Of course it is about recognition for effort martin x. However, please, don’t tell me that fame does not play a part. It would be naive to think so. Besides, I’ve met far too many members of the profession to believe otherwise. Neurosurgeons especially! Ha!

      And, don’t you remember your Skyhooks? Ego is not a dirty word, you know. It’s a great motivator if altruism isn’t always primary.

    • martinX says:

      11:34am | 27/02/13

      It’s “fame” of a sort, since it’s usually only amongst a small group. Not really the full-blown, ego-satisfying sort of fame that only comes from the adulation of the masses. Even that sort of fame isn’t that satisfying, since the masses don’t ever quite ‘get’ what you’ve done, nor understand the intellectual satisfaction your achievement brings you, they just know you’re quite a bright chappy.

      I know a famous scientist - he’s received many prizes short of a Nobel - and he uses his fame and influence to “continue the research”, as scientists are wont to say. He still works like a navvy even though he could probably afford to retire. Fame or ego never enters the equation - it’s all about results.

      I know other medical types who have had amazingly influential careers, and you practically have to crowbar them out to get them to retire. Possibly famous doctors, but rarely egotistical.

      I do know ego-driven surgeons, but that’s orthopaedics for you. grin

    • NSS says:

      12:17pm | 27/02/13

      Maybe it’s just surgeons in general?  wink

      Not denying the dedication and altruism of many researchers, definitely. However, I’m not going to ignore human nature either. Even if your “fame” is restricted to your peers, it still has to be satisfying.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      08:30am | 27/02/13

      If anyone would be thoroughly pissed off at having his name used it would be the Father of Antisepsis, Joseph, Lord Lister. This extraordinarily great man revolutionised medicine particularly in Operating Theatres around the world.
      A commercial pharmaceutical company which makes Mouth Wash/Rinse stole Joseph Lister’s name when they named their product “Listerine”

    • NSS says:

      08:51am | 27/02/13

      Worse than that, who remembers Ignaz Semmelwiess, the first to promote hand washing as antisepsis to prevent puerperal fever in maternity wards Vienna in 1847? No-one, that’s who. At least everyone knows Lister, who promoted using carbolic acid in surgery fully 20 years later.

    • Aussiewazza says:

      08:40am | 27/02/13

      Slow today.

      Two comments and not one blaming JuLiar or Grabbit and suggesting what maladies could be attributed to their policies and named after them.

      Regulars still asleep?

    • Kika says:

      09:15am | 27/02/13

      Well I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis - named after the Japanese doctor who discovered it.

      Top that!

    • Gordon says:

      09:22am | 27/02/13

      If I was a doctor I’d name some rare form of severe priapism after you Steve, so you could be immortallised as Williams willy.

    • Jeremy says:

      09:47am | 27/02/13

      @Aussiewazza - Gillard Gizzard = A painful disease where the birds gizzard siphons off 50% of all food processed directly to the bladder, meaning the poor animal finds it hard to gain enough nutrients from the food it eats. Abbott’s Disease = An inability to have a positive outlook, or constructive comment to make, about anything ever. Kind of like depression. Or maybe just a new name for one it’s symptoms.

    • NSS says:

      11:27am | 27/02/13

      Furthermore,  everyone who studied science knows who Darwin or Watson and Crick are, but does anyone know who Banting and Best were (who isn’t in the job)? It seems to me that having your name immortalised for discovering something godawful is very unfair, when many of those who discovered the cure or the treatment have faded from public memory.

    • Syphilis says:

      12:22pm | 27/02/13

      You think you’ve got a problem?

    • Gregg says:

      03:06pm | 27/02/13

      All that suffering you have eased though Professor S. , nearly making all the fun worth the pain.

    • stephen says:

      06:25pm | 27/02/13

      What about a star ?

      NGC Stevo ?
      Or Williams’s Black Hole ... sorry, sounds like a credit rating. Or a pub in Dubbo. (Or Hayley’s credit rating.)

      The real test for immortality is amanuenses : do anything mildly interesting, get yourself on the Tube, then get a friend to say that you had nothing to do with it, but, ‘hey, here it is, anyway’.


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