Definition of New England Journal of Medicine

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

New England Journal of Medicine: Despite its regional name, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) is far from provincial. It is an eminent weekly national and international general medical journal, devoted to no single specialty, but to all of medicine. The Journal is published by the Massachusetts Medical Society and is closely associated with the medical schools (Boston University, Harvard and Tufts) in the Boston area.

By North American standards, it is a venerable journal. The first issue of The New England Journal of Medicine appeared in January of 1812. The Original Papers in that inaugural issue were titled as follows (verbatim):

  • Remarks on Angina Pectoris
  • Some Remarks on the Morbid Effects of Dentition
  • Account of Bichat
  • Cases of Apoplexy with Dissections
  • A Concise View of the Results of Dr. Davy's Late Electro-Chemical Researche
  • Observations and Experiments on the Treatment of Injuries Occasioned by Fire and Heated Substances
  • Remarks on Diseases Resembling Syphilis
  • Case and Dissection of a Blue Female Child
  • Spurred Rye.

Bichat was Marie F.X. Bichat, a French anatomist, physician, and biologist (1771-1802) after whom Bichat's canal, Bichat's fat-pad, Bichat's fissure, Bichat's foramen, Bichat's fossa, Bichat's ligament, Bichat's membrane, Bichat's protuberance, and Bichat's tunic were named.

That was, indeed, the way they spelled "research" in 1812 (at least in The New England Journal) -- "researche."

And the paper about "Spurred Rye" had to do with ergot and its powers "ad partum accelerandum." Ergot is a product of a parasitic fungus of rye grass that induces uterine contractions. The Journal quite rightly observed that "it has hastened the termination of the labour."


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