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Santesmases M.J.,Institute Filosofia
Journal of the History of Biology | Year: 2016

This essay details a historical crossroad in biochemistry and microbiology in which penicillin was a co-agent. I narrate the trajectory of the bacterial cell wall as the precise target for antibiotic action. As a strategic object of research, the bacterial cell wall remained at the core of experimental practices, scientific narratives and research funding appeals throughout the antibiotic era. The research laboratory was dedicated to the search for new antibiotics while remaining the site at which the mode of action of this new substance was investigated. This combination of circumstances made the bacterial wall an ontology in transit. As invisible as the bacterial wall was for clinical purposes, in the biological laboratory, cellular meaning in regard to the action of penicillin made the bacterial wall visible within both microbiology and biochemistry. As a border to be crossed, some components of the bacterial cell wall and the biochemical destruction produced by penicillin became known during the 1950s and 1960s. The cell wall was constructed piece by piece in a transatlantic circulation of methods, names, and images of the shape of the wall itself. From 1955 onwards, microbiologists and biochemists mobilized new names and associated conceptual meanings. The composition of this thin and rigid layer would account for its shape, growth and destruction. This paper presents a history of biochemical morphology: a chemistry of shape – the shape of bacteria, as provided by its wall – that accounted for biology, for life itself. While penicillin was being established as an industrially-manufactured object, it remained a scientific tool within the research laboratory, contributing to the circulation of further scientific objects. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source

Garcia-Sancho M.,University of Edinburgh | Gonzalez-Silva M.,Institute Salud Global Of Barcelona Isglobal | Santesmases M.J.,Institute Filosofia
Dynamis | Year: 2014

Historical epistemology, according to the historian of science Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, is a space through which «to take experimental laboratory work into the realm of philosophy». This key concept, together with the crucial events and challenges of his career, were discussed in a public conversation which took place on the occasion of Rheinberger's retirement. By making sense of natural phenomena in the laboratory, the act of experimenting shapes the object; it is this shaping which became the core of Rheinberger's own research across biology and philosophy into history. For his intellectual agenda, a history of the life sciences so constructed became «epistemologically demanding». Source

Martykanova D.,Institute Filosofia
Engineering Studies | Year: 2014

The education of Spanish engineers-civil servants became standardised since the 1830s, leaning on institutional precedents dating to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Henceforth, studies in a state-run special school constituted an important milestone and unifying element in the careers of these men. The education in special schools not only provided the future engineers with what was considered knowledge necessary for carrying out their professional duties, but it was also supposed to strengthen certain human characteristics desirable in elite civil servants in general, and corps engineers in particular. While some of these elements were introduced with more or less explicit intention to obtain specific results, others seem to have been developed as products of institutional dynamics or were combination of both. One way or another, the contents of engineers' education, the criteria and methods of selection and evaluation, explicit and unspoken rules of students' life, all these created very exceptional settings that shaped the young men into a unique profile. I examine how the different mechanisms of selection, evaluation and discipline and other elements of the school life in engineering schools besides the curricula, shaped the young men who studied there into a specific figure of Spanish state engineer, an elite man with a strong corporate (as in "corps") identity, individual and collective self-confidence and a sense of entitlement to make decisions on behalf of the Nation. The conclusions discuss the exceptional position of Spanish corps engineers within nineteenth-century Spanish governing elites. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis. Source

This paper examines the State's assumption of medical care for patients with «permanent needs» in 19th century Spain. These patients were the incurably ill, the chronically ill and the elderly. This process is contextualized within the liberal reforms of the Spanish healthcare system in the reign of Isabel II (1833-1868). The goal of these reforms was the creation and consolidation of a national health system that would gradually replace the religious health charities. Healthcare reform became necessary due to the increase in migration that started in the 1830's and intensified in the 1850's. Traditional care networks formed by the family, local community and religious charities were no longer available to those who had left their village or town. In addition, many religious charities were bankrupted by the seizure of their properties in a programme of confiscation. Similar healthcare reform processes were taking place in the United Kingdom, France and Germany, among other European countries, and involved significant changes in the lives of patients, who became strictly controlled and medicalised. My aim was to identify changes in the patients' experience of illness through a case study of the living conditions of inmates at the Nuestra Señora del Carmen Hospital for Incurable Men, based in Madrid from 1852 to 1949. This was one of the institutions devoted to caring for patients with «permanent needs» and was under the direct control of the General State Administration. Source

Santesmases M.J.,Institute Filosofia
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C :Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences | Year: 2014

Through their ability to reveal and record abnormal chromosomes, whether inherited or accidentally altered, chromosomal studies, known as karyotyping, became the basis upon which medical genetics was constructed. The techniques involved became the visual evidence that confirmed a medical examination and were configured as a material culture for redefining health and disease, or the normal and the abnormal, in cytological terms. I will show that the study of foetal cells obtained by amniocentesis led to the stabilisation of karyotyping in its own right, while also keeping pregnant women under the vigilant medical eye. In the absence of any other examination, prenatal diagnosis by foetal karyotyping became autonomous from the foetal body. Although medical cytogenetics was practiced on an individual basis, data collected about patients over time contributed to the construction of population figures regarding birth defects. I study this complex trajectory by focussing on a Unit for Cytogenetics created in 1962 at the Clínica de la Concepción in Madrid. I incorporate the work and training of the clinicians who created the unit, and worked there as well as at other units in the large new hospitals of the national health care system built in Madrid during the mid-1960s and early 1970s. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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