McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

FHS Writes celebrates publishing success of health sciences community

McMaster professor solves medical mysteries in real life and in fiction

Published: March 2, 2010

Infectious disease specialist Ross Pennie describes medicine as his calling, but writing as his passion.

As the author of two books — a memoir and a medical mystery — the professor in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University draws inspiration from his own experiences as a physician and scientist.

In his latest novel, Tainted, Pennie explores the ramifications of a fictional outbreak of human mad cow disease in Hamilton. Two doctors and their colleagues have to solve the puzzle of why people are dying from the infectious disease in light of the scientific, political and emotional upheaval it causes.

"It’s the way it really works," said Pennie, a professor of pathology and molecular medicine and an infectious disease specialist at the Brant Community Healthcare System. "But it’s using fiction as a medium to show people how infectious diseases specialists and public health personnel work in the field when they’re faced with various mysteries."

Pennie is one of over 900 authors in the Faculty of Health Sciences community who will be celebrated today as part of FHS Writes. The second annual event recognizes the publishing achievements of faculty, staff, students and alumni of the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS). As part of the celebration, the library will feature a display of the faculty’s 2009 published works between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., followed by a reception from 4 to 6 p.m.

Liz Bayley, director of the Health Sciences Library, said the event helps to encourage collaboration among researchers, as well as celebrate the role of the Health Sciences Library in that process.

"When we talk about publications, it’s not just research," she said. "There’s a bit of fiction and history. Some of our faculty members are reflecting on their own experience while others are writing specific publications to help patients."

The long-term goal of the Health Sciences Library, in part through the FHS Writes event, is to create a publications database that reflects the educational and research excellence within the Faculty of Health Sciences, Bayley said.

FHS members published more than 1,200 journal articles in 2009. The Lancet topped the list of journals, with a total of 21 citations for the year.

Faculty, staff and students also contributed to 39 books and chapters including Red Wine and Health, edited by Paul O’Byrne, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine, and Histories of Suicide: International Perspectives on Self-Destruction in the Modern World, edited by professors David Wright, who holds the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine, and John Weaver.

Pennie was the only faculty member to publish fiction in 2009 — and intends to continue on with his passion. He’s now working on the second Dr. Zol Szabo medical mystery, due out in spring 2011. While he won’t divulge details, he does promise that much like Tainted, "the germs will be the surprise."

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Level Double-A conformance, W3C WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0