Daily Update: Monday, August 7th, 2017

Sixtus II and Cajetan and 08-07 - Midpoint of Summer and Lunar Eclipse

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Sixtus II, Pope and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (died 258) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Cajetan, Priest (died 1547). This day also marks the approximate midpoint of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. And today brings us a Partial Lunar Eclipse, but not at a time when I can see it. (Drat.)

The future Saint Sixtus II was possibly born in Greece, and was a philosopher and an adult convert to Christianity. He became Pope in 257, and dealt with the controversy concerning baptism by heretics. He believed that anyone who was baptised with a desire to be a Christian, even if the baptism was performed by a heretic, was truly baptised into the faith, and that the validity of his faith was based on his own desire and actions, not the errors of the person who performed the sacrament. While celebrating Mass at the tomb of Saint Callistus in 258 he was arrested as part of the persecutions of Valerian. He was beheaded with six deacons (his seventh deacon, Saint Lawrence, died three days later), having been Pope for just under a year, and was buried in the same catacomb where he had been celebrating Mass when he was arrested; his name occurs in the prayer Communicantes in the Canon of the Mass. We also honor Saint Cajetan, Priest (died 1547). Born in 1480 in Vicenza, Italy as Gaetano dei Conti di Tiene, he was of the Venetian nobility. He studied law in Padua, and was offered governing posts, but turned them down for a religious vocation, and was ordained at age thirty-six. In 1522 Cajetan founded a hospital in Venice, Italy for victims of incurable illness. He was aware of the need of reformation in the Church, and felt called to enter a religious community to serve the sick and poor. On May 3rd, 1524, with three others, including John Peter Caraffa (who later became Pope Paul IV), he formed the Congregation of Clerks Regular (Theatines) at Rome with the mission of fostering the Church’s mission and reviving the spirit and zeal of the clergy.  He founded a bank to help the poor and to offer an alternative to usurers; it later became the Bank of Naples. He became known for a gentle game he played with parishioners where he would bet prayers, rosaries or devotional candles on whether he would perform some service for them; he always did, and they always had to “pay” by saying the prayers. He is the Patron Saint of job seekers and of the unemployed, and of the countries of Albania, Italy, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, and El Salvador. Today also marks the approximate midpoint of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, . (All I know is that it’s hot outside, day and night, in SouthWestCentral Louisiana.) And today brings us a Partial Lunar Eclipse. Since it will occur at 1:22 pm, it cannot be seen from SouthWestCentral Louisiana; it will be visible from most parts of South and East Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia. (Good for them.)

Last night I continued reading Selected Stories by Theodore Sturgeon.

On waking up to get ready for work today I posted to Facebook that today was the Midpoint of Summer, and that today was the date of a Partial Lunar Eclipse. I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Second Day of my Assumption Novena. Once in ADR I called the Pharmacy and renewed two prescriptions.When we clocked in at 3:00 am for the first day of the current two-week pay period, Richard was on Three Card Poker, then was moved to be the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and (on his last rotation) Four Card Poker. I was on Pai Gow, and I continued reading The Waking Engine by David Edison.

After we clocked out at 11:00 am, we went to the Pharmacy, where I picked up my prescriptions. I continued reading The Waking Engine by David Edison, and finished reading it after we got home. I then ate my lunch salad and read the morning paper. Next, I did my Book Review for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for The Waking Engine by David Edison. The Full Moon arrived at 1:13 pm, and the Partial Lunar Eclipse was at 1:22 pm local time (not that I could see it). I spent the rest of the afternoon working on weblog photos. At 4:30 pm we watched Jeopardy!, and then I came to the computer with a plate of chicken stir-fry that Richard made for our dinner. When I finish dinner and this Daily Update, I will get ready for bed.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Cyriacus, Martyr (died c. 303), the Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest (died 1221), the Optional Memorial of The Fourteen Holy Helpers, and the Optional Memorial of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Religious (died 1909). Tomorrow is also the anniversary of my graduation from LSU in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, and it is also International Cat Day. Finally, tomorrow is the Birthday of Richard’s friend Steve in Mississippi (1957). We may sign the Early Out list tomorrow at the casino; if we do, I will go to Lafayette in the afternoon.

On this Monday Afternoon our Parting Quote comes to us from Frances Oldham Kelsey, Canadian pharmacologist and physician. Born as Frances Oldham in 1914 in Cobble Hill, British Columbia, she graduated high school at age fifteen and attended Victoria College, British Columbia (1930–1931) in Victoria, British Columbia (now University of Victoria). She then enrolled at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec to study pharmacology, where she received both a B.Sc.(1934) and a M.Sc.(1935) in pharmacology,, and on the urging of one of her professors wrote to EMK Geiling, M.D., a noted researcher, who was starting up a new pharmacology department at the University of Chicago asking for a position doing graduate work. The acceptance letter she got was addressed to “Mr. Oldham” (Geiling had apparently thought she was a Francis), but on her professor’s advice she went to Chicago without clearing up the matter of her gender first, and began working for Geiling in 1936. During her second year, Geiling was retained by the FDA to research unusual deaths related to elixir sulfanilamide, a sulfonamide medicine. Kelsey assisted on this research project, which showed that the one hundred and seven deaths were caused by the use of diethylene glycol as a solvent. The next year the United States Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.  That same year she completed her studies and received a Ph.D. in pharmacology at the University of Chicago. Working with Geiling led to her interest in teratogens, drugs that cause congenital malformations. Upon completing her Ph.D., Kelsey joined the University of Chicago faculty. In 1942, like many other pharmacologists, Kelsey was looking for a synthetic cure for malaria. As a result of these studies, Kelsey learned that some drugs are able to pass through the placental barrier. She also met fellow faculty member Dr. Fremont Ellis Kelsey, whom she married in 1943. While on the faculty at the University of Chicago, Kelsey was awarded her M.D. during 1950. She supplemented her teaching with work as an editorial associate for the American Medical Association Journal for two years. Kelsey left the University of Chicago in 1954, decided to take a position teaching pharmacology at the University of South Dakota, and moved with her husband and two daughters to Vermillion, South Dakota, where she taught until 1957. She became a dual-citizen of Canada and the United States in the 1950s in order to continue practicing medicine in the United States, but retained strong ties to Canada where she continued to visit her siblings regularly until late in life. In 1960 Kelsey was hired by the FDA in Washington, D.C. At that time, she was one of only seven full-time and four young part-time physicians reviewing drugs for the FDA. One of her first assignments at the FDA was to review an application by Richardson Merrell for a drug (under the tradename Kevadon) to be used as a tranquilizer and painkiller, with specific indications to prescribe the drug to pregnant women for morning sickness. Even though it had already been approved in Canada and more than twenty European and African countries, she withheld approval for the drug and requested further studies. Despite pressure from Richardson Merrell, the manufacturer of Kevadon, Kelsey persisted in requesting additional information to explain an English study that documented a nervous system side effect. Her insistence that the drug should be fully tested prior to approval was vindicated when the births of deformed infants in Europe were linked to ingestion by their mothers during pregnancy of Kevadon, the main ingredient of which was thalidomide. Researchers discovered that the thalidomide crossed the placental barrier and caused serious birth defects. She was hailed on the front page of The Washington Post in an article by Morton Mintz as a heroine for averting a similar tragedy in the United States. Kelsey insisted that her assistants, Oyam Jiro and Lee Geismar, as well as her FDA superiors who backed her strong stance, deserved credit as well. After Mintz broke the story in July 1962, there was a substantial public outcry. The Kefauver Harris Amendment was passed unanimously by Congress in October 1962 to strengthen drug regulation; companies were required to demonstrate the efficacy of new drugs, report adverse reactions to the FDA, and request consent from patients participating in clinical studies. The drug testing reforms required “stricter limits on the testing and distribution of new drugs” to avoid similar problems. The amendments, for the first time, also recognized that “effectiveness [should be] required to be established prior to marketing.” As a result of her blocking American approval of thalidomide, Kelsey was awarded the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President John F. Kennedy, becoming the second woman to receive that award. British Pathé released a film of Kennedy acknowledging Kelsey in a speech. After receiving the award, Kelsey continued her work at the FDA. There she played a key role in shaping and enforcing the 1962 amendments. She also became responsible for directing the surveillance of drug testing at the FDA. Kelsey continued to work for the FDA while being recognised for her earlier work. She was still working at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in 1995 and was appointed deputy for scientific and medical affairs. In 1994 the Frances Kelsey Secondary School in Mill Bay, British Columbia was named in her honour. In 2000 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She retired in 2005. In 2010 the FDA presented Kelsey with the first Drug Safety Excellence Award and named the annual award after her, announcing that it would be given to one FDA staff member annually. Kelsey turned 100 in July 2014, and shortly thereafter, in the fall of 2014, she moved from Washington, D.C., to live with her daughter in London, Ontario. In June 2015, when she was named to the Order of Canada, Mercédes Benegbi, a thalidomide victim and the head of the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada, praised Dr. Kelsey for showing strength and courage by refusing to bend to pressure from drug company officials, and said “To us, she was always our heroine, even if what she did was in another country.” Kelsey died in London, Ontario at the age of 101, less than twenty-four hours after Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, visited her home to present her with the insignia of Member of the Order of Canada for her role against thalidomide (died 2015): “[Richardson Merrell executives] were writing letters and telephoning. They were very anxious to get their product on the market. It had been very successful in other countries and they felt there would be a big market in this country. Then quite suddenly, the news came from Europe about the deformities.”

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