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Rank #25 in Medicine category

Health & Fitness

Bedside Rounds

Updated 8 days ago

Rank #25 in Medicine category

Health & Fitness
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Bedside Rounds is a storytelling podcast about medical history and medicine’s intersections with society and culture. Host Adam Rodman seeks to tell a few of these weird, wonderful, and intensely human stories that have made modern medicine.

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Bedside Rounds is a storytelling podcast about medical history and medicine’s intersections with society and culture. Host Adam Rodman seeks to tell a few of these weird, wonderful, and intensely human stories that have made modern medicine.

iTunes Ratings

263 Ratings
Average Ratings

Love this podcast

By E.Sisley - Feb 04 2020
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Dr. Rodman tells fascinating stories about the history and origins of medical practice in a way that is compelling, enjoyable, and easily palatable. Probably one of my favorite medical podcasts. 10 out of 10, would recommend!


By AminaF - Jul 28 2019
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Fascinating to learn various aspects of the history of medicine.

iTunes Ratings

263 Ratings
Average Ratings

Love this podcast

By E.Sisley - Feb 04 2020
Read more
Dr. Rodman tells fascinating stories about the history and origins of medical practice in a way that is compelling, enjoyable, and easily palatable. Probably one of my favorite medical podcasts. 10 out of 10, would recommend!


By AminaF - Jul 28 2019
Read more
Fascinating to learn various aspects of the history of medicine.
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Bedside Rounds

Latest release on Feb 04, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 8 days ago

Rank #1: 3 - Dark Winter

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In episode 3 of Bedside Rounds, I talk about the human triumph of small pox vaccination, and discuss the government exercise called Dark Winter which simulated a bioterrorism attack on the United States.

Sep 16 2014



Rank #2: 45 - The French Disease at 500

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In 1495, a mysterious and deadly plague struck the city of Naples. Over the next 500 years, the medical attempts to understand and treat this new disease -- syphilis -- would mold and shape medicine in surprising ways. In this episode, Tony Breu and I will perform an historical and physiological biography of syphilis, covering the development of germ theory, epic poetry, mercury saunas, intentionally infecting patients with malaria, magic bullets, and lots and lots of experiments on poor rabbits. This presentation was performed live at the American College of Physicians’ national meeting in Philadelphia on April 11, 2019.


  1. Swain, K. ‘Extraordinarily arduous and fraught with danger’: syphilis, Salvarsan, and general paresis of the insane. Lancet Psychiatry 5, (2018).

  1. Kępa, M. et al. Analysis of mercury levels in historical bone material from syphilitic subjects – pilot studies (short report). Kępa Małgorzata 69, 367-377(11) (2012).

  1. Forrai, J. Syphilis - Recognition, Description and Diagnosis. (2011). doi:10.5772/24205

  1. Parascandola, J. From mercury to miracle drugs: syphilis therapy over the centuries. Pharm Hist 51, 14–23 (2009).

  1. Eisler, C. Who Is Dürer’s ‘Syphilitic Man’? Perspect Biol Med 52, 48–60 (2009).

  1. Rothschild, B. M. History of Syphilis. Clin Infect Dis 40, 1454–1463 (2005).

  1. Schwartz, R. S. Paul Ehrlich’s Magic Bullets. New Engl J Medicine 350, 1079–1080 (2004).

  1. Fee, E. The wages of sin. Lancet 354, SIV61 (1999).

  1. O’Shea, J. ‘Two Minutes with Venus, Two Years with Mercury’-Mercury as an Antisyphilitic Chemotherapeutic Agent. J Roy Soc Med 83, 392–395 (1989).

  1. Mahoney, J., Arnold, R., Sterner, B. L., Harris, A. & Zwally, M. Penicillin Treatment of Early Syphilis: II. Jama 251, 2005–2010 (1984).

  1. Waugh, M. Role played by Italy in the history of syphilis. Sex Transm Infect 58, 92–95 (1982).

  1. Thorburn, A. Fritz Richard Schaudinn, 1871-1906: protozoologist of syphilis. Sex Transm Infect 47, 459–461 (1971).

  1. CROSBY, A. W. The Early History of Syphilis: A Reappraisal. Am Anthropol 71, 218–227 (1969).

  1. Clark, E. G. & Danbolt, N. The Oslo study of the natural history of untreated syphilis An epidemiologic investigation based on a restudy of the Boeck-Bruusgaard material a review and appraisal. J Chron Dis 2, 311–344 (1955).

  1. MUNGER, R. S. Guaiacum, the Holy Wood from the New World. J Hist Med All Sci IV, 196–229 (1949).

  1. Thomas, E. & r, W. Rapid Treatment of Early Syphilis with Multiple Injections of Mapharsen. J Nerv Ment Dis 99, 88 (1944).


  1. THON, L. SHOULD THE INTERNIST KNOW SYPHILIS? J Amer Med Assoc 97, 994–996 (1931).

  1. Sarton, G. The Earliest Printed Literature on Syphilis, being Ten Tractates from the Years 1495-1498. Karl Sudhoff , Charles Singer , Henry E. Sigerist. Isis 8, 351–354 (1926).


  1. Mason, U. Observation: Use and Abuse of Salvarsan. J Natl Med Assoc 3, 340–3 (1911).

  1. Fleming, A. & Colebrook, L. ON THE USE OF SALVARSAN IN THE TREATMENT OF SYPHILIS. Lancet 177, 1631–1634 (1911).

  1. Evans, A. The Treatment of Syphilis by Salvarsan (Dioxy-diamido-arseno-benzol). Brit Med J 1, 617 (1911).

  1. Boeck, W. History, Theory and Practice of Syphilisation. New Engl J Medicine 73, 20–25 (1865).

  1. Veale, H. Remarks on Syphilis and Its Treatment. Edinb Medical J 10, 10–26 (1864).

  1. LaFond RE and Lukehart SA, Biological Basis for Syphilis. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 2006.

  1. Secher L et al, Treponema pallidum in peripheral nerve tissue of syphilitic chancres. Acta dermato-venereologica 1982.
  2.  Hollander DH, Turner TB, The role of temperature in experimental treponemal infection. American journal of syphilis, gonorrhea, and venereal diseases, 1954

  1. Eagle H, et al. The effect of hyperpyrexia on the therapeutic efficacy of penicillin in experimental syphilis. American journal of syphilis, gonorrhea, and venereal diseases, 1947.

  1. Kampmeier RH, Syphilis therapy: an historical perspective. Journal of the American Venereal Disease Association 1976.

  1. Pachner AR, Spirochetal Diseases of the CNS. Neurologic clinics, 1986.

  1. Sell S et al, Experimental syphilitic orchitis in rabbits: ultrastructural appearance of Treponema pallidum during phagocytosis and dissolution by macrophages in vivo. Laboratory investigation; a journal of technical methods and pathology, 1982.

  1. Taylor SH, Diuretics in cardiovascular therapy. Perusing the past, practising in the present, preparing for the future. Zeitschrift für Kardiologie, 1985.

  1. Ovchinnikov NM, [Treponema pallidum in peripheral nerves of rabbit syphiloma]. Vestnik dermatologii i venerologii, 1975.

  1. Cheek DB, Wu F, The Effect of Calomel on Plasma Epinephrine in the Rat and the Relationship to Mechanisms in Pink Disease, Archives of Disease in Childhood, 1959

  1. Vogl A, The discovery of the organic mercurial diuretics, American Heart Journal, 1950

  1. Schwemlein GX et al, Penicillin and fever therapy in early syphilis, Journal of the American Medical Association, 1948.

  1. Stringham JS, On the Diuretic Effects of Mercury in a Case of Syphilis. The Medical and physical journal, 1807

  1. Evanson RL et al, Effect of mercurial diuretics on tubular sodium and potassium transport in the dog. The American journal of physiology, 1972

  1. Sell S and Salman J, Demonstration of Treponema pallidum in Axons of Cutaneous Nerves in Experimental Chancres of Rabbits, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 1992

  1. Penn CW, Avoidance of Host Defences by Treponema pallidum in Situ and on Extraction from Infected Rabbit Testes, Microbiology 1981.

  1. Beutler B and Munford RS, Tumor Necrosis Factor and the Jarisch–Herxheimer Reaction, The New England Journal of Medicine 1996.

  1. Radolf JD et al, Treponema pallidum: doing a remarkable job with what it's got. Trends in Microbiology, 1999

  1. Tight RR, Perkins RL, Treponema pallidum infection in subcutaneous polyethylene chambers in rabbits. Infection and immunity, 1976

  1. Salazar JC et al, Treponema pallidum Elicits Innate and Adaptive Cellular Immune Responses in Skin and Blood during Secondary Syphilis: A Flow-Cytometric Analysis. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2007

  1. Azevedo BF et al, Toxic Effects of Mercury on the Cardiovascular and Central Nervous Systems. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 2012,

  1. Clarkson TW and Magos L, The Toxicology of Mercury and Its Chemical Compounds, Critical Reviews in Toxicology 2008.

  1. Fitzgerald TJ, The Th1/Th2-like switch in syphilitic infection: is it detrimental? Infection and immunity, 1992

  1. Batterman RC et al, THE SUBCUTANEOUS ADMINISTRATION OF MERCAPTOMERIN (THIOMERIN®): Effective Mercurial Diuretic for the Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1949

  1. Batterman RC, The status of mercurial diuretics for the treatment of congestive heart failure. American Heart Journal, 1951

  1. Bleich HL et al, The Role of Regional Body Temperature in the Pathogenesis of Disease, The New England Journal of Medicine, 1981

  1. Vander Veer JB et al, The Prolonged Use of an Oral Mercurial Diuretic in Ambulatory Patients with Congestive Heart Failure. Circulation 1950

  1. Cox DL et al, The outer membrane, not a coat of host proteins, limits antigenicity of virulent Treponema pallidum. Infection and immunity, 1992.

  1. Fildes P, The Mechanism of the Anti-bacterial Action of Mercury. Br J Exp Pathol, 1940


  1. Engelkens HJ et al, The localisation of treponemes and characterisation of the inflammatory infiltrate in skin biopsies from patients with primary or secondary syphilis, or early infectious yaws. Genitourinary Medicine, 1993

  1. Belum GR et al, The Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction: Revisited. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, 2013

  1. Arando M et al, The Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction in syphilis: could molecular typing help to understand it better? Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 2018.

  1. Butler T, The Jarisch–Herxheimer Reaction After Antibiotic Treatment of Spirochetal Infections: A Review of Recent Cases and Our Understanding of Pathogenesis. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2016

  1. Carlson JA et al, The Immunopathobiology of Syphilis: The Manifestations and Course of Syphilis Are Determined by the Level of Delayed-Type Hypersensitivity. The American Journal of Dermatopathology 2011.

  1. Aronson IK and Soltani K, The enigma of the pathogenesis of the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. The British Journal of Venereal Diseases, 1976

  1. Sellato TJ et al, The Cutaneous Response in Humans to Treponema pallidum Lipoprotein Analogues Involves Cellular Elements of Both Innate and Adaptive Immunity, The Journal of Immunology 2001

  1. Spiller HA, Rethinking mercury: the role of selenium in the pathophysiology of mercury toxicity. Clinical Toxicology 2017

  1. Sell S et al, Reinfection of chancre-immune rabbits with Treponema pallidum. I. Light and immunofluorescence studies. The American journal of pathology 1985.

  1.  Grant SS and Hung DT, Persistent bacterial infections, antibiotic tolerance, and the oxidative stress response, Virulence 2013

  1. Lant AF, Modern diuretics and the kidney. Journal of Clinical Pathology, 1981

  1. Kamath SU et al, Mercury-based traditional herbo-metallic preparations: a toxicological perspective, Archives of Toxicology 2012.

  1. Yeter et al, Mercury Promotes Catecholamines Which Potentiate Mercurial Autoimmunity and Vasodilation: Implications for Inositol 1,4,5-Triphosphate 3-Kinase C Susceptibility in Kawasaki Syndrome. Korean Circulation Journal 2013

  1. Wöβmann W et al, Mercury intoxication presenting with hypertension and tachycardia. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 1999

  1. Giacani L et al, Identification of the Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum TP0092 (RpoE) Regulon and Its Implications for Pathogen Persistence in the Host and Syphilis Pathogenesis. Journal of Bacteriology 2013.

  1. Edwards AM, From tooth to hoof: treponemes in tissue‐destructive diseases. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2003

  1. Wolgemuth CW, Flagellar motility of the pathogenic spirochetes. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology 2015.

  1. Solomon HC and Kopp I, Fever Therapy. The New England Journal of Medicine 1937.

  1. Rice KM et al, Environmental Mercury and Its Toxic Effects. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 2014.

  1. Drusin LM, Electron microscopy of Treponema pallidum occurring in a human primary lesion. Journal of bacteriology 1969.

  1. McNeely MC et al, Cutaneous secondary syphilis: Preliminary immunohistopathologic support for a role for immune complexes in lesion pathogenesis. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 1986.

  1. Borenstein LA et al, Contribution of rabbit leukocyte defensins to the host response in experimental syphilis. Infection and immunity 1991.

  1. Cabot RC et al, Case 51-1976 — Bicentennial CPC — Syphilis, Diarrhea and Death in the 1820's. The New England Journal of Medicine 1976.

  1. Hobman JL and Crossman LC, Bacterial antimicrobial metal ion resistance. Journal of Medical Microbiology 2015

  1. Gelpi A and Tucker JD, After Venus, mercury: syphilis treatment in the UK before Salvarsan. Sexually Transmitted Infections 2015.

  1. MacHaffie et al, A study of the effectiveness of mercurial diuretics in treatment of cardiac decompensation. The American Journal of Cardiology 1958

  1. Aberer W et al, Ammoniated mercury ointment: outdated but still in use. Contact Dermatitis 1990

  1. Farhi D, Dupin N, Origins of syphilis and management in the

immunocompetent patient: Facts and controversies. Clinics in Dermatology (2010) 28, 533–538

  1. Frith J, “Syphilis – Its early history and Treatment until Penicillin and the Debate on its Origins,” Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health, 20(4), retrieved online at:

  1. Howes OD et al, “Julius Wagner-Jauregg, 1857-1940,” American Journal of Psychiatry, April 2009 Volume 166 Number 4, Volume 166, Issue 4, April, 2009, pp. 409-409.

  1. Karamanou M et al, “Julius Wagner-Jauregg (1857-1940): Introducing fever therapy in the treatment of neurosyphilis.” Psychiatriki. 2013 Jul-Sep;24(3):208-12.

  1. Simpson WM, “Artificial fever therapy of syphilis,” JAMA. 1935;105(26):2132-2140.

  1. Tsay CJ, “Julius Wagner-Jauregg and the Legacy of Malarial Therapy for the Treatment of General Paresis of the Insane,” Yale J Biol Med. 2013;86(2): 245–254

  1. Wagner-Jauregg J, “The history of malaria treatment of general paralysis.” Am J Psychiatry. 1946;02: 577-582

  1. Shafer JK et al, Untreated syphilis in the male Negro: A prospective study of the effect on life expectancy. Public Health Rep. 1954 Jul; 69(7): 684–690.

  1. Abara WE et al, Syphilis Trends among Men Who Have Sex with Men in the United States and Western Europe: A Systematic Review of Trend Studies Published between 2004 and 2015. PLoS One. 2016; 11(7): e0159309.

  1. Nutton V, The Reception of Fracastoro's Theory of Contagion: The Seed That Fell among Thorns? Osiris, Vol. 6, Renaissance Medical Learning: Evolution of a Tradition (1990)

  1. Tsaraklis A, Preventing syphilis in the 16th century: the distinguished Italian anatomist Gabriele Falloppio (1523-1562)  and the invention of the condom. Le Infezioni in Medicina, n. 4, 395-398, 2017.

Apr 22 2019

1hr 9mins


Rank #3: 4 - Happy Birthday

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In Episode 4, I wish a hearty 202nd birthday to the New England Journal of Medicine, and look at how much things have changed over the centuries by looking at the 1912 and 1812 editions. #spoileralert: the answer is a LOT

Sep 16 2014



Rank #4: 34 - The Physical

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The physical exam has become a ritual of the modern doctor’s appointment, with pokes, prods, and strange tools. How did this become a normal thing to do? In this episode, I’ll discuss how the physical exam went from the medieval examination of a flask of urine to basically what we have today in just a few decades in early 19th century France, and how the exam is still developing in the 21st century. Plus, a brand new #AdamAnswers about why Americans insist on using the Hermes’ Staff as a symbol for medicine. All this and more in episode 34 of Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine!


  • Antic T, DeMay RM. “The fascinating history of urine examination,” Journal of the American Society of Cytopathology (2014) 3, 103e107
  • Ghasemzadeh N and Zafari AM, “A Journey into the History of the Arterial Pulse,” Cardiology Research and Practice Volume 2011 (2011).
  • McGee S, Evidence Based Physical Diagnosis 4th edition. Amazon link:
  • Nicolson M, Commentary: Nicholas Jewson and the disappearance of the sick man from medical cosmology, 1770–1870. Int J Epidemiol 2009;38:622–33)
  • Jewson ND. The disappearance of the sick-man from medical cosmology, 1770–1870, Sociology , 1976, vol. 10 (pg. 225-44)
  • Robertson WE. Physical diagnosis from the time of Rontgen. Ann Med Hist. 1934;6:255–63
  • Rodgers MM, “Piorry on Pleximetry and Auscultation,” Boston Med Surg J 1852; 46:151-152
  • Tan SY and Hu M, “Josef Leopold Auenbrugger (1722 - 1809): father of percussion. Singapore Med J 2004 Vol 45(3):103
  • Walker HK, “The Origins of the History and Physical Examination,” Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations.Boston: Butterworths; 1990.
  • Wallis F, Signs and Senses: Diagnosis and Prognosis in Early Medieval Pulse and Urine Texts. Social History of Medicine Vol. 13 No. 2 pp. 265-278.
  • Wilcox RA et al, “The Symbol of Modern Medicine: Why One Snake Is More Than Two,” Ann Intern Med. 2003;138:673-677.
  • Verghese et al, A History of Physical Examination Texts and the Conception of Bedside Diagnosis.
  • Voswinkel P, From uroscopy to urinalysis. Clinica Chimica Acta 297 (2000) 5–16

May 04 2018



Rank #5: 27 - The First Opiate Epidemic

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The United States is in the midst of an epidemic of addiction and overdose deaths due to opiate painkillers. Its causes are varied, but there’s no question that physicians share a large part of the blame. Little discussed is that this is actually the second time this has happened. Almost a century ago, a remarkably similar epidemic struck the country. In this episode, called “The First Opiate Epidemic,” I discuss what happened, the parallels to today, and the lessons we can learn from our forebearers. Learn about all this and a new #AdamAnswers in this month’s Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine!


  • Courtwright DT. Dark Paradise: A History of Opiate Addiction in America. Harvard University Press, 2001.
  • Meldrum ML, “The ongoing opiod prescription epidemic: historical context,” Am J Public Health. 2016 August; 106(8): 1365–1366.
  • Courtwright DT, “Preventing and treating narcotic addiction -- a century of federal drug control,” N Engl J Med 2015; 373:2095-2097.
  • Adams JFA, “Substitutes for opium in chronic diseases,” Boston Med Surg J 1889; 121:351-356.
  • Macht DI, “The history of opium and some of its preparations and alkaloids,” JAMA. 1915;LXIV(6):477-481.
  • Hamilton GR and Baskett TF, “In the arms of Morpheus: the development of morphine for postoperative pain relief,” Can J Anesth. 2000;47:4, 367-374.
  • Weiner JP, “A shortage of physicians or a surplus of assumptions?” Health Aff January 2002 vol. 21 no. 1 160-162.
  • Gudbranson BA et al, Reassessing the Data on Whether a Physician Shortage Exists. JAMA. 2017;317(19):1945-1946.
  • Kirch DG and Petelle K, Addressing the Physician Shortage: The Peril of Ignoring Demography. JAMA. 2017;317(19):1947-1948.

Oct 06 2017



Rank #6: 26 - The God Squad

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The invention of dialysis -- essentially artificial kidneys for people with kidney failure -- revolutionized medicine. It also started a debate about medical rationing and ethics that rages to this day. Producer Cam Steele brings us a story about the God Squad, the group of lay people and doctors tasked with deciding who lived and who died in the early days of dialysis, and how it has informed every debate about medical rationing since. Learn about all this and more, plus a new #AdamAnswers in the latest episode of Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine.


  • Blagg CR, Development of ethical concepts in dialysis: Seattle in the 1960s. Nephrology, 1998.4, 235-238
  • Scheunemann L and White D, The Ethics and Reality of Rationing in Medicine, Chest, 140; 6. December 2011
  • White DB et al, Who should receive life support during a public health emergency? Using ethical principles to improve allocation decisions. Ann Intern Med. 2009 January 20; 150(2): 132–138.
  • Jonson AR, The God Squad and the Origins of Transplantation Ethics and Policy, Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics.
  • Levine C, The Seattle “God Committee”: A Cautionary Tale; Nov 30 2009.
  • Blagg, CR. The Early Years of Chronic Dialysis: The Seattle Contribution. Am J Nephrol 1999;19:350–354
  • Persad, et al. Principles for allocation of scarce medical interventions, Lancet 2009; 373: 423–31.
  • Bryson, et al. Addiction and Substance Abuse in Anesthesiology. Anesthesiology. 2008 Nov; 109(5): 905–917.
  • Hughes, et al. Resident Physician Substance Use, By Specialty. Am J Psychiatry 1992; 149: 1348-1354.

Aug 31 2017



Rank #7: 36 - Filth Parties

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The southern United States was hit by a dramatic epidemic of a mysterious disease called pellagra in the early twentieth century. This episode discusses the cultural and scientific sources of the outbreak -- from the cotton fields of the south, to the cow pastures of rural Germany, to the river basins of Uganda -- and the incredible lengths a young doctor named Joseph Goldberger went through to try and put an end to this plague. Plus, a new #AdamAnswers about the source of the name “internal medicine.” All this and more on episode 36 of Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine!

  • Bean WB,  “Origin of the Term Internal Medicine,” N Engl J Med 1982; 306:182-183
  • Blevins SM and Bronze MS, Robert Koch and the ‘golden age’ of bacteriology, Int J of Inf Dis, Vol 14, #9, Sep 2010.
  • Bloomfield AL, “The origin of the term ‘internal medicine,” JAMA, April 4, 1959.
  • Bressani R et al, Corn Nutrient Losses, Chemical Changes in Corn during Preparation of Tortillas, J Agr and Food Chem, 6, 10, 770-774.
  • Brim CJ. Job's Illness: Pellagra. Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology. 1942;45:371-6.
  • Carpenter KJ, The relationship of pellagra to corn and the low availability of niacin in cereals, Experientia Suppl. 1983;44:197-222.
  • Clay K et al, Rise and Fall of Pellagra in the American South.
  • Elmore JG and Feinstein AR, Joseph Goldberger: An Unsung Hero of American Clinical Epidemiology, Ann Intern Med. 1994;121:372-375.
  • Goldberger J. The transmissibility of pellagra: Experimental attempts at transmission to human subjects. Public Health Rep. 1916;31:3159–73
  • Goldberger J. Public Health Reports, June 26, 1914. The etiology of pellagra. The significance of certain epidemiological observations with respect thereto. Public Health Rep. 1914;29(26):1683–1686.
  • Goldberger J, Wheeler GA, Sydenstricker E. A study of the relation of diet to pellagra incidence in seven textile-mill communities of South Carolina in 1916. Public Health Rep. 1920;35(12):648–713.
  • Goldberger J, Waring CH, Willets DG, et al. The Treatment and Prevention of Pellagra. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; 1914.
  • Goldberger J, Wheeler GA. Experimental pellagra in the human subject brought about by a restricted diet. Public Health Rep. 1915;30(46):3336–3339.
  • Harris HF: Ankylostomiasis in an individual presenting all of the typical symptoms of pellagra. Am Med 1902; 4:99-100, retrieved from:
  • Lavinder CH, Pellagra, The American Journal of Nursing, Vol. 13, No. 10 (Jul., 1913), pp. 746-754.
  • MacNeal WJ, The Alleged Production of Pellagra by an Unbalanced Diet, JAMA. 1916;LXVI(13):975-977.
  • Middleton J, Pellagra and the blues song ‘Cornbread, meat and black molasses’. J R Soc Med. 2008 Nov 1; 101(11): 569–570.
  • Mooney et al, The Thompson-McFadden Commission and Joseph Goldberger: Contrasting 2 Historical Investigations of Pellagra in Cotton Mill Villages in South Carolina. Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Aug 1; 180(3): 235–244.
  • Morabia A (2006). Joseph Goldberger’s research on the prevention of pellagra. JLL Bulletin: Commentaries on the history of treatment evaluation.
  • Niles GM. Pellagraphobia: A word of caution. JAMA. 1912;58:1341.
  • Roberts CS, Goldberger and the Mal de la Rosa, Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition.
  • Searcy GH: An epidemic of acute pellagra. Transactions of the Medical Association of Alabama, 1907, pp 387-393
  • Wacher, C. (2003). Nixtamalization, a Mesoamerican technology to process maize at small-scale with great potential for improving the nutritional quality of maize based foods.

Jul 05 2018



Rank #8: 42 - The Lady with the Lamp

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Florence Nightingale stands as one of the most important reformers of 19th century medicine -- a woman whose belief in the power of reason and statistical thinking would critically shape the both the fields of epidemiology and nursing. This episode discusses the fascinating story of Nightingale’s legacy -- how modern nursing was born out of the horrors of war, medical theories about poisonous air, the outsize influence of the average man, the first graph in history, and how a woman who died over a century ago presciently foresaw some of the most important scientific and social issues in medicine that are still with us today. Plus, a new #AdamAnswers about the doctor-nurse relationship.


  • Beyersmann J and Schrade C, Florence Nightingale, William Farr and competing risks, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society) Volume 180, Issue 1
  • Fagin CM, Collaboration between nurses and physicians: no longer a choice. Academic Medicine. 67(5):295–303, May 1992.
  • Fee E and Garofalo ME, Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War, Am J Public Health. 2010 September; 100(9): 1591.
  • Garofalo ME and Fee E, Florence Nightingale (1820–1910): Feminism and Hospital Reform. Am J Public Health. 2010 September; 100(9): 1588.
  • Halliday Stephen, Death and miasma in Victorian London: an obstinate belief. BMJ. 2001 Dec 22; 323(7327): 1469–1471.
  • Hardy A, The medical response to epidemic disease during the long eighteenth century. Epidemic Disease in London, ed. J.A.I. Champion (Centre for Metropolitan History Working Papers Series, No.1, 1993): pp. 65-70.
  • Jahoda G, Quetelet and the emergence of the behavioral sciences. Springerplus. 2015; 4: 473.
  • Keith JM, Florence Nightingale: statistician and consultant epidemiologist. Int Nurs Rev. 1988 Sep-Oct; 35(5):147-50.
  • Kopf EW, Florence Nightingale as statistician.. Res Nurs Health. 1978 Oct; 1(3):93-102.
  • Kramer M, Schmalenberg C. Securing “good” nurse–physician relationships. Nurs Manage 2003;34(7):34-8.
  • McDonald L Florence Nightingale and the early origins of evidence-based nursing Evidence-Based Nursing 2001;4:68-69.
  • McDonald L, Florence Nightingale, statistics and the Crimean War, J. R. Statist. Soc. A (2014)177, Part 3, pp. 569–586.
  • McDonald L, Florence Nightingale at First Hand, London and New York: Continuum, 2010.
  • Oyler L, “It’s Really Sickening How Much Florence Nightingale Hated Women,” Vice Broadly, retrieved online at
  • “Rank for Nurses,” The American Journal of Nursing, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Dec., 1919), pp. 241-24.
  • Rowen L, The Medical Team Model, the Feminization of Medicine, and the Nurse's Role. AMA Journal of Ethics, Virtual Mentor. 2010;12(1):46-51.
  • Soine AH, From Nursing Sisters to a Sisterhood of Nurses: German Nurses and Transnational Professionalization, 1836-1918, Published Dissertation, August 2009.
  • Stein LI. The doctor–nurse game. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1967;16(6):699-703.
  • Stein LI, et al. The doctor–nurse game revisited. N Engl J Med 1990;322(8):546-9.
  • Young D A B. Florence Nightingale's fever BMJ 1995; 311 :1697.

Jan 14 2019



Rank #9: 43 - The Cursed

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What killed Charles II of Spain, the inbred monarch whose autopsy famously showed a heart the size of a peppercorn, a head full of water, and a bloodless body? This episode addresses that medical mystery by not only delving deep into Charles’ unfortunate past, but by exploring some of the fundamental assumptions physicians have made about the nature of disease. Along the way we’ll walk about inbreeding coefficients, postmodern philosophy, and two thousand years of anatomy and autopsy. Plus a new #AdamAnswers about whether Vincent van Gogh’s love of the color yellow was caused by digitalis poisoning!


  • Alvarez G, Ceballos FC, Quinteiro C (2009) The Role of Inbreeding in the Extinction of a European Royal Dynasty. PLoS ONE 4(4): e5174.
  • Burchell HB, Digitalis poisoning: historical and forensic aspects. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1983 Feb;1(2 Pt 1):506-16.
  • Burton JL, A Bite Into the History of the Autopsy: From Ancient Roots to Modern Decay. Forensic Sci. Med. Pathol. 1:4:277.
  • Cerda JL. Charles II of Spain, «the bewitched». Rev. méd. Chile  [Internet]. 2008 Feb [cited 2019 Feb 11] ; 136( 2 ): 267-270.Cullen W, Nosology. Retrieved online at:
  • Foucault, Michel. The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception. New York: Vintage Books, 1975.
  • Gargantilla Madera P. Enfermedades de los reyes de España, los Austrias : de la locura de Juana a la impotencia de Carlos II el Hechizado. Madrid 2005.Ghosh SK, “Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771): father of pathologic anatomy and pioneer of Modern Medicine, Anat Sci Int, 6 Sep 2016.
  • Gruener A. Vincent van Gogh's yellow vision. Br J Gen Pract. 2013;63(612):370-1.Hodge GP. A Medical History of the Spanish Habsburgs: As Traced in Portraits. JAMA. 1977;238(11):1169–1174.
  • Lagay F, The Legacy of Humoral Medicine, Virtual Mentor. 2002;4(7):
  • Lee TC. Van Gogh's Vision: Digitalis Intoxication? JAMA. 1981;245(7):727–729. Lesney MS, Flowers for the heart, ACS, March 2002, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp 46, 48
  • López AG et al, Charles II: From Spell to Genitourinary Pathology. Arch. Esp. Urol. 2009; 62 (3): 179-185.
  • Somberg J et al, Digitalis: Historical Development in Clinical Medicine, The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Volume 25, Issue 7
  • Starkstein, S., & Berrios, G. (2015). The “Preliminary Discourse” to Methodical Nosology, by François Boissier de Sauvages (1772). History of Psychiatry, 26(4), 477–491. Viale G, The rete mirabile of the cranial base: a millenary legend. Neurosurgery. 2006 Jun;58(6):1198-208.

Feb 18 2019



Rank #10: 39 - The White Plague

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Tuberculosis has been humanity’s oldest and greatest killer. Starting at the turn of the nineteenth century, the White Plague was decimating entire generations in the crowded and unclean cities of Europe, North America, and across the globe. But as medical science learned more about the disease, doctors and reformers developed new ways to combat it, most notably specialized tuberculosis hospitals that sought to heal their patients with fresh air, rest, and a nutritious diet. This episode discusses the sanatorium movement and the gradual conquest of tuberculosis, long before effective antibiotic therapy existed. Along the way we’re going to talk about the King’s Evil, the dangers of rebreathed air, the healing powers of mountains, and the social determinants of health. Plus, a brand new #AdamAnswers about maternal placentophagy. All this and more on Episode 39 of Bedside Rounds, monthly podcast on the weird, wonderful, and intensely human stories that have shaped modern medicine, brought to you in partnership with the American College of Physicians. To claim CME and MOC credit, please go to


  • Adams, J. F. Alleyne. "The Segregation of Consumptives." The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 157, no. 2 (1907): 35-40.
  • Barberis I et al, The history of tuberculosis: from the first historical records to the isolation of Koch's bacillus, J Prev Med Hyg. 2017 Mar; 58(1): E9–E12.
  • Bertolaccini et al, Surgical treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis: the phoenix of thoracic surgery? J Thorac Dis. 2013 Apr; 5(2): 198–199.
  • CDC: World TB Day 2018, retrieved from:
  • Cox GL. Sanatorium treatment contrasted with home treatment. After-histories of 4,067 cases. Br J Tuberc 1923; 17:27–30.
  • Coyle CW et al, Placentophagy: Therapeutic Miracle or Myth? Arch Womens Ment Health. 2015 Oct; 18(5): 673–680.
  • Daniel TM, Hermann Brehmer and the origins of tuberculosis sanatoria, Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2011 Feb; 15(2):161-2.
  • Daniel TM, Jean-Antoine Villemin and the infectious nature of tuberculosis, Int J Tuberc Lung Dis 19(3):267–268
  • Daniel TM, “The history of tuberculosis,” Respiratory Medicine (2006) 100, 1862–1870.
  • Daniel VS and Daniel TM,, Old Testament Biblical References to Tuberculosis, linical Infectious Diseases, Volume 29, Issue 6, 1 December 1999, Pages 1557–1558.
  • Davies RPO, Tocque K, Bellis MA, Rimmington T, Davies PDO. Historical declines in tuberculosis in England and Wales: improving social conditions or natural selection. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis 1999;3:1051–4.
  • Dormandy T, The White: A History of Tuberculosis, 1999.
  • Farr et al, “Human Placentophagy: A review,” AJOG, April 2018.
  • Frith J, History of Tuberculosis. Part 1 – Phthisis, consumption and the White Plague. J Mil Vet Health, 22,2.
  • Gaensler EA. The surgery for pulmonary tuberculosis. Am Rev Respir Dis 1982;125:73–84.
  • Grigg RN. (1958), The arcana of tuberculosis. Am Rev Tuberc Resp Dis; 78:151-172.
  • Hayman J, “Mycobacterium Ulcerans: An infection from Jurassic Time?” The Lancet, Nov 3, 1984.
  • Holloway-Kew KL et al, Lessons from history of socioeconomic improvements: A new approach to treating multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, Journal of Biosocial Science 46(5):1-21, October 2013.
  • Jacobaeus HC. The Cauterization of Adhesions in Artificial Pneumothorax Treatment of Pulmonary Tuberculosis under Thoracoscopic Control. Proc R Soc Med 1923;16:45-62
  • Morse D, Brothwell DR, Ucko PJ. Tuberculosis in ancient Egypt. Am Rev Respir Dis. 1964;90:524–541.
  • Murray JF. Bill Dock and the location of pulmonary tuberculosis: how bed rest might have helped consumption. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2003;168:1029–1033.
  • Murray JF. Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the cause of consumption: from discovery to fact. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2004;169: 1086–1088.
  • Murray JF, Sanatoriums and climate, The Lancet Infectious Disease, Vol 16, Issue 7, P786, July 01, 2016.
  • Murray JF. The white plague: down and out, or up and coming? J. Burns Amberson Lecture. Am Rev Respir Dis 1989;140:1788–1795.
  • Murray JF et al, “Treatment of Tuberculosis. A Historical Perspective,” Annals of the American Thoracic Society. Vol. 12, No. 12 , Dec 01, 2015.
  • Pomerantz M. Surgery for the management of mycobacterium tuberculosis and nontuberculous mycobacterial infections of the lung. In: Shields TW, Lo Cicero J, Ponn RB, et al. eds. General Thoracic Surgery, 6th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins: Philadelphia, PA; 2005:1251-61.
  • Tuberculosis Chemotherapy Centre, A concurrent comparison of home and sanatorium treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis in South India, Bull World Health Organ. 1959; 21(1): 51–144.
  • Warren P, The evolution of the sanatorium: the first half-century, 1854-1904, Can Bull Med Hist. 2006;23(2):457-76.

Oct 08 2018



Rank #11: 5 - Beachside Rounds

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In Episode 5, I present Beachside Rounds, a fun activity for the whole family this summer, and a brief introduction into interesting physical exam findings.

Sep 16 2014



Rank #12: 12 - P.I.M.P.

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Pimping ain't easy, especially when it happens on rounds. Where did the peculiar medical tradition of "pimping" come from? How did it get its name? Is it even effective? And does it still have a place in modern medical education? Find out in Episode 12!

Mar 31 2015



Rank #13: 25 - Salt Water

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Intravenous or IV fluids are a ubiquitous treatment in medicine, and one of the most cost-effective treatments that we have, costing less than a cup of coffee in the developing world. But it wasn’t always this way. In this episode, called Salt Water, we go back to the second great cholera epidemic, where a young doctor developed IV fluids to help fight this mysterious disease, only to see his invention abandoned for over half a century. We also have a new #AdamAnswers about bloodletting. So join us for another rollicking adventure of Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine!


Further reading:

Aug 01 2017



Rank #14: 31 - Malariotherapy

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Malariotherapy -- infecting comatose syphilis patients with malaria to cure them of the disease -- was once the cutting edge of medicine, and earned its inventor Julius Wagner-Jauregg the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1927. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the fascinating story behind this remarkable treatment, from the murky beginnings of syphilis through its sordid sexual connotations, to the birth of modern psychiatry and Nazi experiments. Plus, there’s a brand new #AdamAnswers about whether or not ancient doctors thought hair served to store semen (seriously).  Listen to all this and more in Episode 31 of Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine.


  • Crellato E et al, “The Hippocratic treatise ‘On glands’: the first document on lymphoid tissue on lymph nodes,” Leukemia. Retrieved online at
  • Farhi D, Dupin N, Origins of syphilis and management in theimmunocompetent patient: Facts and controversies. Clinics in Dermatology (2010) 28, 533–538
  • Frith J, “Syphilis – Its early history and Treatment until Penicillin and the Debate on its Origins,” Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health, 20(4), retrieved online at:
  • Gelder MG, “Biological Psychiatry in Perspective,” British Medical Bulletin. 1996;2 (No. 3H01-4G7)
  • Howes OD et al, “Julius Wagner-Jauregg, 1857-1940,” American Journal of Psychiatry, April 2009 Volume 166 Number 4, Volume 166, Issue 4, April, 2009, pp. 409-409.
  • Karamanou M et al, “Julius Wagner-Jauregg (1857-1940): Introducing fever therapy in the treatment of neurosyphilis.” Psychiatriki. 2013 Jul-Sep;24(3):208-12.
  • Kent, ME and Romanelli F. Reexamining Syphilis: An Update on Epidemiology, ClinicalManifestations, and Management, The Annals of Pharmacotherapy. 2008 February, Volume 42
  • Kreston R, “Pyromania! On Neurosyphilis and Fighting Fire with Fire,” Body Horrors blog on Discover. Retrieved online at:
  • Martin TW, “Paul’s argument from Nature for the Veil in 1 Corinthians 11:13-15: A Testicle Instead of a Head Covering,” Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 123, No. 1 pp 75-84.
  • Rothschild, BM, “History of Syphilis Clinical Infectious Diseases.” 2005; 40:1454–63
  • Simpson WM, “Artificial fever therapy of syphilis,” JAMA. 1935;105(26):2132-2140.
  • Tampa M et al, “Brief History of Syphilis.” J Med Life. 2014 Mar 15; 7(1): 4–10.
  • Tsay CJ, “Julius Wagner-Jauregg and the Legacy of Malarial Therapy for the Treatment of General Paresis of the Insane,” Yale J Biol Med. 2013;86(2): 245–254
  • Wagner-Jauregg J, “The history of malaria treatment of general paralysis.” Am J Psychiatry. 1946;02: 577-582

Feb 02 2018



Rank #15: 28 - Smallpox Blankets

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The story of smallpox blankets offered as gifts to indigenous peoples as a weapon of war is ubiquitous -- but is it based in truth? And did our increased medical understanding of smallpox lead to its use as a biological weapon?  In this episode, we confront these questions and explore the history of biological warfare, smallpox, and medicine. Listen to all this, a new #AdamAnswers, and more in this episode of Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine.


  • Barras V and Groub G, “History of biological warfare and bioterrorism,” Clin Microbiol Infect 2014.
  • Carus W, “The history of biological weapons use: what we know and what we don’t,” Health Security, Vol 13, No4, 2015.
  • Fenner F et al, “Smallpox and its Eradication,” World Health Organization, 1988, Chapters 5 and 6.
  • Mayor A, “The Nessus Shirt in the New World: Smallpox Blankets in History and Legend,” J Am Folklore, Vol. 108, No. 427 (Winter, 1995), 54-77.
  • Mear C, “The origin of the smallpox outbreak in Sydney in 1789,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, June, 2008.
  • Skwarecki B, “What is the scariest disease?” PLoS Blogs, retrieved at
  • Theves C, et al, “The rediscovery of smallpox,” Clin Microbiol Infect 2014; 20: 210-218.
  • Ranlet P, “The British, the Indians, and Smallpox: What actually happened at Fort Pitt in 1763?”, Pennsylvania history: 427-442.
  • Warren C, “Smallpox at Sydney Cove -- who, when, why?” J Aust Studies, 30 Oct 2013

Nov 09 2017



Rank #16: 6 - The Number Needed to Treat

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In this episode of Bedside Rounds, we discuss how risks and benefits are communicated by scientists and physicians, and why those numbers you see in advertisements and newspapers might not be the clearest way to express risk.

Sep 19 2014



Rank #17: 35 - Sherlock

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Why do doctors love Sherlock Holmes so much? In this episode, we’ll explore this endearing, nerdy obsession with the good detective, from Holmes’ medical origins and influences, the parallels with medical reasoning, and how the Holmes stories still influence medicine to this day. Plus a new #AdamAnswers about the origin of the white coat. All this and more in Episode 35 of Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine!


Jun 04 2018



Rank #18: 17 - The Iceman

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In 1991, two hikers near the Austrian-Italian border discovered the 5,000 year-old mummified body of Otzi the Iceman buried in a glacier. What have we learned about medicine from the Iceman? From a fungus-based first aid kit, ancient acupuncture , analysis of paleofeces, hints about his violent demise -- and of course the good old fashioned physical exam -- the answer is more surprising than you might think. Learn more with Episode 17 of Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine!

Nov 25 2016



Rank #19: 32 - The Humors

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The Four Humors are probably the longest-lasting idea in the history of medicine, even though they’ve been more or less completely abandoned for the past century or so. In this episode, we’ll explore how the ancient Greek idea of disease coming from imbalances in body fluids touched every aspect of medicine for two millennia, well into the modern era. And we’ll discuss how humoral explanations likely hampered adoption of the first clinical trial in history, James Lind’s famous scurvy study. Plus we have a brand new #AdamAnswers about germ theory. Listen to all this and more in Episode 32 of Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine!


  • Arikha N, Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humors. 2007.
  • Baron JH, “Sailors' scurvy before and after James Lind--a reassessment,” Nutr Rev. 2009 Jun;67(6):315-32.
  • Bartholomew M, “James Lind and scurvy: a revaluation,” Journal for Maritime Research. Published online: 08 Feb 2011.
  • Lind J. A Treatise of the Scurvy in Three Parts. Containing an Inquiry into the Nature, Causes and Cure of that Disease, together with a Critical and Chronological View of what has been published on the subject. London: Miller, 1753
  • NLM’s Turning the Pages on the Edwin Smith Papyrus (
  • Nutton V, Ancient Medicine.
  • Nutton V, “The Fatal Embrace: Galen and the History of Ancient Medicine”. Science in Context 18(1), 111–121 (2005).
  • Shoja MM et al, “Wrong theories on the origin of blood vessels: Polybus and De Natura Hominis.” Int J Cardiol. 2008 Jun 6;126(3):313-5.
  • Sutton G, “Putrid gums and 'dead men's cloaths': James Lind aboard the Salisbury.” J R Soc Med. 2003 Dec;96(12):605-8.
  • Trohler U, “Lind and Scurvy: 1747-1795,” J R Soc Med. 2005 Nov; 98(11): 519–522.
  • West JB, Galen and the beginnings of Western physiology Volume 307 Issue 2 July 2014 Pages L121-L128

Mar 03 2018



Rank #20: 20 - Buried Alive

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The nineteenth century was struck by a collective panic about being buried alive, leading to a bevy of new laws, regulations, and inventions like the safety coffin.  In this episode, we explore how medical science created and fueled this fear by blurring the line between life and death with the invention of new tests for death, developing life-saving technologies like rescue breathing, and even re-animating corpses. And just in case you thought the fear of premature interment was something of the past, we explore how issues raised in this panic still inform medicine today. Learn about all this, a brand new #AdamAnswers, and more in Episode 20 of Bedside Rounds, Buried Alive!

Feb 21 2017