In the beginning, I was intrigued by the progression of opium and its names as it goes from a crude drug to an extract to finally a semi-synthetic. This is the difference between opium and heroin which I was unaware of. I also did not know that the anesthetics used in dental work is based on the cocaine model. Even more surprising is the FDA approval of cocaine HCl as a topical anesthetic in nasal surgery.
I was additionally interested in the discussion of Quinine and Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapy as treatments for malaria. I took Biology 3401 last semester and spent half a semester talking about malaria. We went into detail about the treatments–specifically these two chemicals– and it was nice to see it reiterated as innovations in medicine. It was also nice to see Youyou Tu discussed and credited in both situations.