Friday, December 23, 2011

France 2011 90th Anniversary of the discovery of insulin

The French Post released this stamp on 18 November 2011 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. The stamp does not display any overt scientific connection to this important protein, instead the designer has chosen to illustrate the importance with 3 lively human silhouettes casting unlikely shadows that spell the word "vie", which means "life" in french. The importance of insulin was supposedly discovered in 1921 in Toronto and the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded in 1923 to Frederick Grant Banting and Charles Best for this discovery. However, the Romanians have claimed that Nicolae Paulescu is the true pioneer of insulin, who had developed the substance in 1916 and experimented it on a dog. Paulescu had to interrupt his work because of World War I, and only published his work entitled "Research on the Role of the Pancreas in Food Assimilation" in the Archives Internationales de Physiologie in August 1921, and filed patent 6254 for his invention on 10 April 1922 with the Romanian Ministry of Industry and Trade. More can be read about the insulin itself at PDB:

USA 2004 Sickle Cell Stamp

The USPS issued a stamp to highlight the sickle cell disease on 29 September 2004, encouraging parents at risk to test themselves and their children. The stamp designer decided not to use any scientific illustration for the stamp, opting instead to highlight the human side of the disease, featuring a mother lovingly kissing her child, as the disease is genetic in nature and could be passed from parent to child.

Grenada 2010 Sickle Cell Association of Grenada

On 25 June 2010 The Sickle Cell Association of Grenada (SCAG) gathered at the Sauteurs Grenada Catholic Cemetery to lay a wreath and to unveil a plaque in memory of Dr Walter Clement Noel, who became the first recorded case of sickle cell disorder in history. In 1910, Dr James B Herrick publish an article reporting the case of an anaemic student from Grenada with peculiar sickle-shaped red blood cell. Walter C. Noel was born in Grenada on 21 June 1884, he successfully completed in dentistry studies in Chicago and returned to Grenada to do his practice; he died on 3 May 1916 at the age of 32, nine years after his return. Today sickle cell anaemia is the world's largest genetic disorder. The gene defect causing this disease is a mutation of a single nucleotide (single-nucleotide polymorphism - SNP) (A to T) of the ß-globin gene, which results in glutamic acid being substituted by valine (mutation of a single nucleotide, from a GAG to GTG codon). 2 souvenir sheets were released on 9 December 2010 to acknowledge the Sickle Cell Association of Grenada and to commemorate the centennial of the reporting of the first sickle cell case; the designs of the stamps include ribbons and flowers which were part of the wreath laid at the grave of Dr Walter Clement Noel.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Macau 2011 Issue with MRI

Macau Post released on 28 October 2011 a souvenir sheet and a set of 4 stamps commemorating the 140th Anniversary of the Kiang Wu (Mirror Lake) Hospital Charity Association. The central figure in the souvenir sheet is Dr Sun Yat-sen who joined the hospital in 1892 as a voluntary doctor for western medicine, thus introducing western medicine to the institution. On the right side of the souvenir sheet is an early day microscope which could have been used by Dr Sun. Two photos overlapping the right side of the stamp and the sheet selvage illustrate modern medical technology - the MRI whole-body scanner and video-aided key-hole surgery.
Of the 4 stamps, one features a traditional tool for preparing traditional chinese medicine (TCM), another shows a patient undergoing MRI scanning.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Portugal 2011 World Veterinary Year

One of the four stamps released by Portugal on 7 September 2011, to mark World Veterinary Year, features the horse with graphical representation of DNA; the theme of the stamp is animal production and improvement. Incidentally, the first draft genome sequence of the domestic horse (Equus caballus) was completed in April 2007.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Poland 2011 Rudolf Stefan Weigl

One of the 4 stamps released on 29 August 2011 by Poland, on the theme of famous Poles, features Rudolf Stefan Weigl (1883-1957) who invented the first effective vaccine against epidemic typhus in 1933. Weigl's vaccine was made up of ground up lice; lice were responsible for the spread of typhus; the first major application of this vaccine took place between 1936 and 1943 by the Belgian missionaries in China. More modern vaccine against typhus has been invented since then.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Monaco 1974 Centenary of birth of Ernest Duchesne

4 years after Sir Alexander Fleming received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of penicillin, the French National Academy of Medicine (l’Académie nationale de médecine) officially recognized Ernest Duchesne's original work in 1894 as the original discovery of antibiotics! This stamp released by Monaco on 8 May 1974 celebrates the birth centenary of Ernest Duchesne. Duchesne enrolled at l'Ecole du Service de Santé Militaire de Lyon (School of Military Health Services in Lyons) in 1894, and in 1897 submitted his thesis, “Contribution à l’étude de la concurrence vitale chez les micro-organismes: antagonisme entre les moisissures et les microbes” (Contribution to the study of competitive survival of micro-organisms: Antagonism between moulds and microbes) to get his doctoral degree. This was considered the first study in the therapeutic capabilities of moulds resulting from their anti-microbial activity. Because of his youth and military commitment, his recommendation in his thesis for further investigation into this phenomenon was ignored. Duchesne died at age of 37 on 12 April 1912, from a lung infection, probably tuberculosis.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mozambique 2011 Alexander Fleming

On 30 June 2011 Mozambique released 2 souvenir sheets celebrating the life of Alexander Fleming as one of the most important scientists in the 20th century. Knighted in 1944, Sir Alexander Fleming, a Scottish biologist and pharmacologist, was born 6 August 1881. He discovered penicillin in 1928, pioneering the age of antibiotics, and received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1945 for it. In 1999, Time magazine named Fleming one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century. As such a famous personality, Sir Alexander Fleming is featured in many stamps. For this issue, the first stamp in the souvenir sheet with 4 stamps features the molecular structure of penicillin, whereas the core structure of the penicillin group of antibiotics is shown on the selvage of the smaller souvenir sheet. The background of both souvenir sheets are filled with white pills, probably an antibiotic.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

DNA representing biology on Liechtenstein stamp

On 28 August 1969 Liechtenstein released a set of 4 stamps to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Duchy of Liechtenstein. Each of the 4 stamps features an important field of study - biology, physics, astronomy and art. The stamp representing biology features a man and the double-helical structure of DNA. This is the earliest use of the double helix to represent science on a stamp design. Scott 454.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Peru 2011 International Year of Chemistry

Peru released on 1 August 2011 a stamp commemorating the International Year of Chemistry, featuring an array of symbols representing the connections between chemistry and the Peruvian coat of arms. For example, the helical structure of keratin, the main polymeric material that makes up the wool of the vicuña and other camelids, is shown to the left of the coat of arms; and to right, the molecular structure of quinine, the classic antimalarial drug extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree. Also shown are the symbol and electronic configuration of gold (Au for Aurantium) since a cornucopia spilling coins of the noble metal is included in the bottom half of the coat of arms. Then there's the logo of the Colegio de Químicos del Perú, the organization representing all professional chemists in the country (not to be confused with the Peruvian Chemical Society). The lower portion of the stamp has images showing chemists handling reagents and working in laboratories.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Canada 2011 Canadian Innovation - The Pacemaker

The Canadian Post issued on 17 August 2011, a set of 4 stamps on the theme of Canadian innovations. One stamp, shown on the left, features the pacemaker, designed and built by Canadian electrical engineer John Hopps in 1950 based upon observations by cardio-thoracic surgeon Wilfred Gordon Bigelow at Toronto General Hospital. This initial is very big machine using vacuum tube technology to provide transcutaneous pacing for the heart, it was somewhat crude and painful to the patient in use and, being powered from an AC wall socket, carried a potential hazard of electrocution of the patient by inducing ventricular fibrillation.

The development of the silicon transistor and its first commercial availability in 1956 was the pivotal event which led to rapid development of practical cardiac pacemaking. In 1958, American engineer Earl Bakken of Minneapolis, Minnesota, produced the first wearable external pacemaker. This transistorised pacemaker, housed in a small plastic box, had controls to permit adjustment of pacing heart rate and output voltage and was connected to electrode leads which passed through the skin of the patient to terminate in electrodes attached to the surface of the myocardium of the heart. The first clinical implantation into a human of a fully implantable pacemaker was in 1958 at the Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden, using a pacemaker designed by Rune Elmqvist and surgeon Åke Senning, connected to electrodes attached to the myocardium of the heart by thoracotomy. The device failed after three hours. A second device was then implanted which lasted for two days. The world's first implantable pacemaker patient, Arne Larsson, went on to receive 26 different pacemakers during his lifetime. He died in 2001, at the age of 86, outliving the inventor as well as the surgeon.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Netherlands 2011 Utrecht University Biomedical Sciences

The Netherlands postal authority released a sheetlet of 10 stamps on 28 March 2011, celebrating the 375th Anniversary of Utrecht University, one of the top universities in Europe. Each of the 10 stamps celebrates an important Utrecht University event in these 375 years, this particular stamp illustrated with the double helix structure of DNA celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Utrecht University Biomedical Sciences Studies.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Netherlands 2011 On microbiology

The Netherlands issued 10 nondenominated "1" stamps on 20 April 2011 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Netherlands Society for Microbiology. The various microscopic life forms harnessed by human featured on the stamps include yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) for fermentation in wine production, lactic bacterium (Lactococcus lactis) for making cheese from milk, rhizobium that provides nitrogen for planting, Anammox (short for ANaerobic AMMonium OXidation) bacteria for rendering waste water harmless, bacteriophage that kills harmful bacteria, penicillium for production of penicillin, methonosarcina for production of methane gas (biogas), marine green algae, Tetraselmis suecica, for production of biodiesel, Aspergillus niger (black mold) for breaking down vegetable waste into compost, and bacillus bacteria that repairs concrete by filling up cracks with lime.

USA 2011 American Scientist: Dr Severo Ochoa

The US Postal Service released a third series of American Scientists stamps on 16 June 2011. The set comprises 4 stamps, and one of them features Dr Severo Ochoa. Ochoa was awarded the 1959 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his work the synthesis of RNA.
Severo Ochoa was born on 24 September 1905 in Spain. Ochoa attended elementary school and high school in Malaga, then in 1923 he went the University of Madrid Medical School. He completed his undergraduate medical degree in summer of 1928 and developed an interest in going abroad to gain further research experience. His previous creatine and creatinine work led to an invitation to join Otto Meyerhof’s laboratory at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology in Berlin-Dahlem in 1929. At that time the Institute was a "hot bed" of the rapidly evolving discipline of biochemistry, thus Ochoa had the experience of meeting and interacting with scientists such as Otto Warburg, Carl Neuberg, Einar Lundsgaard, and Fritz Lipmann in addition to Meyerhof who had received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine less than a decade earlier. In 1930 Ochoa returned to Madrid to complete research for his MD thesis, which he defended that year. In 1931, a newly minted MD, married Carmen García Cobián and began postdoctoral study at the London National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), where he worked with Sir Henry Dale. With the outbreak of the Spanish civil war, Ochoa left Spain in 1936, taking up poistion in various parts of Europe. In 1942, Ochoa went to USA and started working for the New York University School of Medicine. He became an America citizen in 1956.
After receiving the Nobel Prize in 1959, Ochoa continued research on protein synthesis and replication of RNA viruses until 1985, when he returned to Spain and gave advice to Spanish science policy authorities and scientists. Ochoa was also a recipient of U.S. National Medal of Science in 1979. Severo Ochoa died in Madrid, Spain on 1st November 1993.
The 2011 American scientist stamp of Severo Ochoa is illustrated with photographs of Ochoa in his laboratory in 1959; Ochoa’s signature, from a 1949 letter to colleague Arthur Kornberg; a scheme, from one of his publications, representing the replication of viral RNA; and an equation representing the bacterial ribosome cycle in polypeptide synthesis. Severo Ochoa is also featured in the 2003 (20 March) Spain-Sweden joint stamp issue for recipients of Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

30th Anniversary of Identification of AIDS

The year 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of the HIV virus discovery and, at the same time, 30 years of fight against this global plague. Between 8 and 10 June, the activities of the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on fight against HIV/AIDS will be conducted at the UN Headquarters in New York. Romania issued a commemorative stamp on 8 June for this event, featuring the red ribbon signifying the fight against AIDS, and the representative structure of the AIDS virus.
As shown on the stamp, the AIDS virus structure is roughly spherical with a diameter of about 120 nm. It is composed of two copies of positive single-stranded RNA that codes for the virus's nine genes enclosed by a conical capsid composed of 2,000 copies of the viral protein p24. The single-stranded RNA is tightly bound to nucleocapsid proteins, p7, and enzymes needed for the development of the virion such as reverse transcriptase, proteases, ribonuclease and integrase. A matrix composed of the viral protein p17 surrounds the capsid ensuring the integrity of the virion particle. This is, in turn, surrounded by the viral envelope that is composed of two layers of fatty molecules called phospholipids. Embedded in the viral envelope are proteins from the host cell and about 70 copies of a complex HIV protein that protrudes through the surface of the virus particle. This protein, known as Env, consists of a cap made of three molecules called glycoprotein (gp) 120, and a stem consisting of three gp41 molecules that anchor the structure into the viral envelope. This glycoprotein complex enables the virus to attach to and fuse with target cells to initiate the infectious cycle.
The Serbian Post released on 1 June the commemorative stamp with an artist's impression of the virus, with the external glycoprotein structures shown.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mozambique 2010 A Tribute to Marshall Warren Nirenberg

Marshall Warren Nirenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 for deciphering the genetic code. It was during his early post-doctoral days at the National Institute of Health (NIH) that he conducted a series of experiments leading to the discovery of how the triplets of nucleotides combined to form the different amino acids necessary for protein synthesis. He discovered first the codon for phenylalanine, he then presented his work in 1961 at the International Congress of Biochemistry at Moscow, receiving scant attention, until Francis Crick organised a repetition of the presentation in a larger hall in the same Congress. By 1966 Nirenberg had worked out the codons for all the 20 amino acids; in 1968 he received the Nobel Prize. All this time, Severo Ochoa, already a Nobel laureate, was pursuing for the same results in a large lab at New York University; in view of this stiff competition, all of Nirenberg's colleagues and friends at NIH dropped their own work to help him succeed in the race to decipher the complete codon table. Marshall Warren Nirenberg died of cancer on 15 January 2010, at the age of 82.
The mushrooms featured on the souvenir sheets and the stamps themselves have no links to Marshall Warren Nirenberg, they are included by the printers of these souvenir sheets targetted at philatelic enthusiasts.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Romania 2011 World Down Syndrome Day

Romania has released on 21 March 2011 a stamp marking World Down Syndrome Day. Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that occurs in approximately 1 out of 800 live births. First described by British physician John Langdon Down in 1866, it is the leading cause of cognitive impairment. On 21st of March 2006, Down Syndrome Association organized, in Singapore, the first actions meant to draw attention to the appropriate understanding of this condition. Simultaneously, similar events occurred in Geneva. Later, March 21st was declared the World Down Syndrome Day. This date is symbolic as Down Syndrome is also known as Trisomy 21 - Down Syndrome babies have 3 copies of chromosome 21.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Switzerland 2011 International Year of Chemistry - Vitamin C

The Swiss Post features the molecular structure of Vitamin C on their stamp celebrating the International Year of Chemistry (IYC). Vitamin C is probably the best-known vitamin and is regarded as the health remedy par excellence. The story of its discovery dates back to the middle ages, when sailors on long sea voyages of discovery inadvertently succumbed to scurvy because nobody understood the problem of vitamin C deficiency. Though the link between scurvy and the consumption of citrus fruits and fresh vegetables was understood as early as the 16th century, it was only two hundred years later that the
diet of sailors was supplemented with sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) and lemon or lime juice, thus curbing scurvy outbreaks.

In 1933, Tadeus Reichstein, a Polish-born chemist working at the Zurich Federal Institute of Technology, managed to produce synthetic ascorbic acid in bulk cheaply, based on a combined chemical and bacterial fermentation process. That same year, Reichstein sold his patent for synthetic vitamin C to Hoffmann-La Roche, the Basel pharmaceutical company, which sold the synthetic Vitamin C under the brand name Redoxon.

Albert Szent-Györgyi was awarded the 1937 Nobel Prize in Medicine for isolating hexuronic acid as the anti-scorbutic (anti-scurvy) factor, which was later identified as Vitamin C or ascorbic acid. The shared 1937 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Walter Norman Haworth for his work in the identification and synthesis of Vitamin C, Haworth's award was celebrated by another stamp, the 10p stamp in Great Britain 1977 issue celebrating the 100th anniversary of Royal Institute of Chemistry.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Indonesia 2011 International Year of Chemistry

Indonesia released a set of 2 stamps on 23 March 2011 to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry (IYC). The first stamp features the chemical structure of a xanthone derivative, Artoindonesianin C, derived from the plant Artocarpus teysmanii (a relative of the jackfruit tree), the second stamp (not shown) features the IYC logo. Many forms of artoindonesianins are extracted from the Artocarpus family of plants, for example, Artoindonesianin A & B are derived from Artocarpus chempeden, that is the chempedak tree. Some of these artoindonesianins have been found to be cytotoxic, so they are candidate compounds for anti-cancer research.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Poland 2011 Cystic Fibrosis Week

28 February is Rare Disease Day in Poland, and for this day in 2011, a stamp was released marking Cystic Fibrosis Week. The stamp features the face of a boy, half in colour, the other half in grey scale, probably representing good health and poor health. The first day postmark features the double helical represenation of DNA structure, and the left side of the cover is illustrated with the human chromosome 7 with the region q31.2 marked in red - location of the CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator) gene. Mutation of this gene leads to the development of cystic fibrosis.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Centenary of the award of Nobel Price for Chemistry to Marie Curie

The United Nations has declared 2011 to be the International Year of Chemistry, this year also marks the centenary of the award of the Nobel Price for Chemistry to Marie Curie, for her discoveries related to radium. The most important medical consequence of Marie's discoveries, is that a small amount of radium could destroy human tissue, thus opening the way to the search to treat cancers. La Poste of France issued the stamp marking this important year on 28 January 2011, featuring Marie Curie in her laboratory. The postal authorities of many countries will be issuing stamps commemorating the International Year of Chemistry, and many of them will feature Marie Curie, so far Sri Lanka did it on 30th January, and Spain on 7th February. I supposed as the year goes, we shall see more.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mexico 2010 CONACyT 40th Anniversary

This Mexico stamp, released on 9 December 2010, celebrates the 40th anniversary of CONACyT, or Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, National Council of Science and Technology in English. The design includes an attempt at an artistic representation of the DNA double helical structure, and an indistinct molecule.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Israel 2011 International Year of Chemistry - The Ribosome & The Ubiquitin

The Israel Post released 2 stamps featuring protein structures on 4 January 2011 to ring in 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry. The 4.20-shekel stamp features the ubiquitin, a protein destructor and the 6.10-shekel stamp features the Ribosome, a protein constructor.

For the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation, Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko of the Israel Institute of Technology, and Irwin Rose of the University of California, Irvine, USA, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2004. Ubiquitin serves as a molecular label that fastens itself to the protein destined to be destroyed; the proteins marked for death are fed to the proteasome for disassembly. Before the protein is squeezed into the proteasome for destruction, the ubiquitin label is removed for re-use.

The Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009 was awarded to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of Cambridge, UK, Thomas A. Steitz of Yale University in the USA, and Ada E. Yonath of Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, for their work on the molecular 3D structure of the ribosome, through X-ray crystallography, and showing how it functions at the atomic level, manufacturing proteins giving life to all living organisms.