Scientific MOOCs follower. Author of Airpocalypse, a techno-medical thriller (Spring 2017)

Welcome to the digital era of biology (and to this modest blog I started in early 2005).

To cure many diseases, like cancer or cystic fibrosis, we will need to target genes (mutations, for ex.), not organs! I am convinced that the future of replacement medicine (organ transplant) is genomics (the science of the human genome). In 10 years we will be replacing (modifying) genes; not organs!

Anticipating the $100 genome era and the P4™ medicine revolution. P4 Medicine (Predictive, Personalized, Preventive, & Participatory): Catalyzing a Revolution from Reactive to Proactive Medicine.

I am an early adopter of scientific MOOCs. I've earned myself four MIT digital diplomas: 7.00x, 7.28x1, 7.28.x2 and 7QBWx. Instructor of 7.00x: Eric Lander PhD.

Upcoming books: Airpocalypse, a medical thriller (action taking place in Beijing) 2017; Jesus CRISPR Superstar, a sci-fi -- French title: La Passion du CRISPR (2018).

I love Genomics. Would you rather donate your data, or... your vital organs? Imagine all the people sharing their data...

Audio files on this blog are Windows files ; if you have a Mac, you might want to use VLC ( to read them.

Concernant les fichiers son ou audio (audio files) sur ce blog : ce sont des fichiers Windows ; pour les lire sur Mac, il faut les ouvrir avec VLC (

Henry Mash, neurosurgeon: "Nobody really understands the brain"

Published 13 March 2014
"What is it like to be a brain surgeon?

How does it feel to hold someone's life in your hands, to cut into the stuff that creates thought, feeling and reason?

How do you live with the consequences of performing a potentially life-saving operation when it all goes wrong?

In neurosurgery, more than in any other branch of medicine, the doctor's oath to 'do no harm' holds a bitter irony. Operations on the brain carry grave risks. Every day, Henry Marsh must make agonising decisions, often in the face of great urgency and uncertainty.

If you believe that brain surgery is a precise and exquisite craft, practised by calm and detached surgeons, this griping, brutally honest account will make you think again. With astonishing compassion and candour, one of the country's leading neurosurgeons reveals the fierce joy of operating, the profoundly moving triumphs, the harrowing disasters, the haunting regrets and the moments of black humour that characterise a brain surgeon's life.

DO NO HARM is an unforgettable insight into the countless human dramas that take place in a busy modern hospital. Above all, it is a lesson in the need for hope when faced with life's most difficult decisions."

Dr. Henry Marsh's segment starts at 17:52 on following audio link (source: Guardian books podcast)


Well, I've read "Do No Harm"... Reminds me of the three surgeons in my family, really... The book was scary, I even felt like puking on a couple of occasions... After reading this book, I asked the surgeons in my family: "Are we so sure about brain death? are those people really dead?" Their answer was unanimous -- which I found quite striking, because I can tell you, they usually disagree on a lot of things -- "- We dunno for sure." 

"Nobody really understands the brain", says Dr. Henry Mash at the end of this interview (The Guardian Books Podcast). Yeah, at least I got that part right, I think...


So, lemme get this straight: a highly experienced brain surgeon stated -- in May 2014 -- that "nobody really understands the brain", and yet, at Harvard Med School in Boston, they did define "brain death" as death (from a legal point of view, too) in... 1968! Did we know more about the brain in 1968 than we do now? Doesn't seem to make sense... A few years ago (in 2008), same Harvard Med School said that, well, you know, "brain death" is not striclty equivalent to death, so, maybe, just maybe, we could extend the concept of death definition in the perspective of organ donation to "donation under cardiac death" -- since, well, "brain death" was already included... (read here). So, again, wow. There is a lot of stuff that needs to be read between the lines, here... Since we've got these "wonderful" immunosuppressive drugs, we need to tweak and twist the definition of death. And yet, try as hard as we may for organ "donation" industrialization, the problem of organ donation *shortage* remains... Not enough *dead* people... Yikes.

First in-depth mammal brain map to reveal neural blips

Great, this has been done quite recently (2 April 2014, NewScientist)... eeerrrr... for the mouse (not the humans: not quite there yet)... And there is this cool Human Connectome Project...
As a conclusion... Well, I know the surgeons in my family will hate this, since in their opinion, Google equals "the death of surgeons" and doctors will be replaced with algorithms -- all Google's fault, mind you... And er, yes, the surgeons in my family are bio-luddites who seem to think I am Ray Kurzweil's PA -- and Siri is my middle name ;-)

Will Google underestimate the complexity of the brain?

Yesterday, I was taking a stroll at the U of I... Spooky, isn't it?... and yet interesting...

"ALMA MATER To thy happy children/Of the future/Those of the past/Send greetings."

1 commentaire:

Ethics, Health and Death 2.0 a dit…