Newsletter- March 2022

Welcome to the March 2022 chapter newsletter.

March is named for Mars, the Roman god of war and divine father to Romulus and Remus. March inaugurated the ancient season of warfare, when swords clanged, soldiers rallied, and emperors were made, not born. 

If you haven’t yet, listen to The Planets suite by Gustov Holst. Mars’s ominous introduction is set to a relentless 5/4 drumbeat that escalates into a dissonant, skyscraping climax. Dread it; run from it; destiny still arrives. Mars, in Holst’s rendering, is the very definition of “inevitable.”

Let us know what you think, and remember, you can also read it on the chapter website. You can find previous newsletters on the website as well.

In this issue:





Seeking Candidates for President-Elect, Chapter Advisory Council Reprentative, Co-Treasurer and Programming Chair

The AMWA North Central chapter is looking for volunteers!AMWA North Central is a volunteer-based organization. If members don’t take an active role, the chapter will cease to function, and members will lose access to programming, news, and networking opportunities. Consider taking your turn to lead (or join) a committee or serve as a chapter officer.

Please submit your interest or nominations for any of the positions to bod (at) list.amwanorthcentral (dot) org

  • President-Elect: The president-elect position is critical to our status as a chapter!  Without a volunteer to fill this vital position, we will not be able to continue as a chapter. Please volunteer! The new president-elect role will serve a one-year term beginning in February 2021 and ideally will transition into the role of president in 2022. As president-elect, you will attend the monthly AMWA NC chapter board meetings, take minutes, and chair the meeting if the president is unable to attend. Other duties may be assigned by the president or board on an ad hoc basis.
  • CAC Representative: The Chapter Advisory Council Representative attends all meetings of the Chapter Advisory Council, either held in person at the annual AMWA National meeting, or by conference call. The CAC Representative then communicate all concerns and questions from chapter leaders and chapter members to the Chapter Advisory Council. 
  • Programming Committee Chair: The Program Committee Chair is responsible for organizing in-person and virtual AMWA events throughout the year, including identifying topics of interest and recruiting speakers. This is an important role in the chapter and is valuable for both member engagement and education.
  • Co-Treasurer: Manages finances, files U.S. taxes, drafts the annual budget, prepares a financial summary for the bi-annual reports, and works with the Finance committee chair during the annual audit.

In addition to keeping our group viable, volunteering with AMWA is a great way to network with your fellow members. It’s also a good way to fortify your C.V. with an extra line showing how you give back to your profession! If you can volunteer a few hours a month, contact bod (at) list.amwanorthcentral (dot) org.


Virtual Event with Tom Lang, March 23rd at 7 PM via Zoom 

In this remote event, co-sponsored by the North Central Chapter and GWIS (Graduate Women in Science) Minnesota Chapter, Thomas A Lang, MA will speak on “Improving Comprehension in Medical Writing.” His talk will draw upon his extensive experience with scientific and medical writing. Mr. Lang served as a member of the group that developed the CONSORT Guidelines for presenting results of clinical trials and has also conducted numerous workshops at AMWA national meetings on topics that include writing, critical analysis, and communication. His latest book is Understanding Statistics in Medicine: Basic concepts for those who write, edit, review, or read the medical literature by Thomas A Lang, Donna E. Stroup, Michelle Please join us for his presentation. 

Additional information can be found on the Tom Lang Communications and Training International website: 

Zoom meeting

Meeting ID: 832 6192 6068
Passcode: 412134



Read a Good Book?The Body: A Guide for Occupants

By Paul W. Mamula, PhD 

For a light-hearted, but informative book, I recommend Bill Bryson’s The Body: A Guide for Occupants. Bryson was born in the United States and spent the 1980’s and 1990s living in in the United Kingdom. He has written books on travel, the English language, and science, but gained prominence with his bestseller, A Short History of Nearly Everything in 2003. The Body is his latest book, published in 2019. 

The Body contains 386 pages of text and 12 pages of photographs and illustrations. Nonscience readers will find sophisticated material written in a breezy nontechnical style. Bryson begins with chapters on the skin and hair and works his way through the body, describing, among many other topics, the skeleton, bipedalism and exercise, food consumption, diseases, and medical practice. The book ends with a chapter on aging and death, appropriately titled “The End.” The chapter notes and comprehensive bibliography are helpful for the curious. 

Bryson interweaves the odd facts in delightful ways, so much so that I used tabs to mark the ones I found interesting. A few samples follow: 

  1. Universal Sequence. “Viruses aren’t considered living things, but its genetic code contains a stretch of 62 letters that has been found in all living things…” (pp.37- 38). A footnote includes the genetic sequence for the curious. 
  1. Floaters. “The technical name for them [floaters in the eye], if you wish to impress someone, is muscae volitantes, or ‘hovering flies.’” Floaters are microscopic bits of protein in the vitreous humor that appear with aging but can also indicate serious eye problems (p. 80). 
  1. Heart Attacks. “No less appallingly, more than half of all first heart attacks (fatal or otherwise) occur in people who are fit and healthy and have no known obvious risks.” (p. 116) 
  1. Skeleton. “It is usually said that we have 206 bones, but the actual number can vary a bit between people. About one person in every eight has an extra, thirteenth pair of ribs, while people with Down’s syndrome frequently have a pair missing.”  (p. 165) 
  1. Eight Glasses of Water. “The conviction that we should all drink 8 glasses of water a day is the most enduring of dietary misunderstandings. The idea has been traced to a 1945 paper from the US Food and Nutrition Board, which noted that that was the amount that the average person consumed in a day.” (p. 238) An exhaustive discussion can be found elsewhere.1 
  1. Genetic Disorders. “One of the more famous sufferers of a rare genetic disorder was the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who is thought to have had pycnodystosis.” (p. 332) The disorder shortened the artists legs and made him appear as if he were on his knees. His aristocratic family had multiple first cousin marriages, and some of his cousins had related physical ailments.2 

Many “strange but true” anecdotes leaven the chapters. My favorite is nestled in the last chapter in a discussion of the potential maximum lifespan and notes the purported oldest person known, Jean Louise Calment. In 1965, a French lawyer struck a deal with Calment, then 90 years old and in financial difficulties. The lawyer offered her 2,500 francs a month in return for him getting her apartment when she died. The lawyer thought he had a good deal, given that Calment was also a life-long smoker. Unfortunately for him, the lawyer died first, 30 years later, and had paid Calment more than 900,000 francs. Calment lived to age 122 years, 164 days (pp.375-376)! 

The Body is filled with many more fascinating facts and stories about biomedical and science topics, and if you have some spare time, this book is worth the time. You’ll enjoy a book that will make you laugh, wince, and think. 


  1. Valtin H. “Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.” Really? Is there scientific evidence for “8 X 8”? [Invited Review] Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 2002;283:R993-1004 doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00365.2002 
  1. Haynes C. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Biography. [Accessed February 18, 2022]