On this day:
1883 – The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, establishing the United States Civil Service, is passed.
The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act (ch. 27, 22 Stat. 403) is a United States federal law, enacted in 1883, which established that positions within the federal government should be awarded on the basis of merit instead of political affiliation. The act provided selection of government employees by competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation. It also made it illegal to fire or demote government officials for political reasons and prohibited soliciting campaign donations on Federal government property. To enforce the merit system and the judicial system, the law also created the United States Civil Service Commission. This board would be in charge of determining the rules and regulations of the act. The Act also allowed for the president, by executive order to decide which positions could be subject to the act and which would not. A crucial result was the shift of the parties to reliance on funding from business, since they could no longer depend on patronage hopefuls.
It was 50 years ago on Jan. 16, 1964 that Charles Dotter, the father of interventional radiology, performed the first angioplasty. Today, millions of individuals get this medical intervention annually.
Angioplasty and stenting revolutionized medicine and led the way for the more widely known applications of coronary artery angioplasty and stenting that revolutionized the practice of cardiology. Today many conditions that once required surgery can be treated nonsurgically by interventional radiologists. Through a small knick in the skin, they use tiny catheters and miniature instruments so small they can be run through a person’s network of arteries to treat at the site of illness internally, saving the patient from open invasive surgery. While no treatment is risk free, the risks of interventional procedures are far lower than the risks of open surgery, and are a major advance in medicine for patients.
Some of the more recent advances in interventional radiology include:
Nonsurgical ablation of tumors to kill cancer without harming the surrounding tissue
Embolization therapy to stop hemorrhaging or to block the blood supply to a tumor
Catheter-directed thrombolysis to clear blood clots, preventing disability from deep vein thrombosis and stroke
Carotid artery angioplasty and stenting to prevent stroke
Dotter, together with his trainee Dr Melvin P. Judkins, described angioplasty in 1964.
Dotter invented angioplasty and the catheter-delivered stent, which were first used to treat peripheral arterial disease. On January 16, 1964, at Oregon Health and Science University Dotter percutaneously dilated a tight, localized stenosis of the superficial femoral artery (SFA) in an 82-year-old woman with painful leg ischemia and gangrene who refused leg amputation. After successful dilation of the stenosis with a guide wire and coaxial Teflon catheters, the circulation returned to her leg. The dilated artery stayed open until her death from pneumonia two and a half years later. He also developed liver biopsy through the jugular vein, initially in animal models and in 1973 in humans.
Charles Dotter is commonly known as the “Father of Interventional Radiology.” He served as the chairman of the School of Medicine Department of Diagnostic Radiology at Oregon Health Sciences University for 33 years, from 1952 until his death in 1985. The University now boasts the Dotter Interventional Institute in his honor.
Born on this day:
1634 – Dorothe Engelbretsdatter, Norwegian author and poet (d. 1716)
In 1678 her first volume appeared, Siælens Sang-Offer published at Copenhagen. This volume of hymns and devotional pieces, very modestly brought out, had an unparalleled success. The first verses of Dorothe Engelbretsdatter are commonly believed to have been her best.
The fortunate poet was invited to Denmark, and on her arrival at Copenhagen was presented at court. She was also introduced to Thomas Hansen Kingo, the father of Danish poetry. The two greeted one another with improvised couplets, which have been preserved and of which the poet’s reply is incomparably the neater. King Christian V of Denmark granted her full tax freedom for life. Her Taare-Offer (1685) was dedicated to Queen Charlotte Amalia, the wife of King Christian V.
In 1683, her husband died. She had nine children, but seven of them died young and her two adult sons lived far away from Bergen. She lost her house in the great fire in 1702 in which 90 percent of the city of Bergen was destroyed. Her re-placement house was not available until 1712. Her sorrow is evident in examples such as the poem Afften Psalme. She died on the 19th of February 1716. 
1919 – Jerome Horwitz, American chemist and academic (d. 2012)
In 1964, while conducting research for the Karmanos Institute, Horwitz synthesized a compound that was to become known as zidovudine (AZT) – an antiviral drug used to treat HIV patients; Zidovudine was initially developed as a treatment for cancer. Horwitz was also first to synthesize stavudine (d4T) and zalcitabine (ddC) – two other reverse transcriptase inhibitors used in the treatment of HIV patients.
Also during 1964, he published the first production and demonstration of X-gal as a chromogenic substrate.
After synthesizing AZT, Horwitz went on to create many successful treatments for cancer and other diseases. At the time of his most recent findings, Horwitz was working for the Michigan Cancer Foundation with a federal grant from the National Institutes of Health; he retired in 2005.
1947 – Laura Schlessinger, American physiologist, talk show host, and author
Laura Catherine Schlessinger (born January 16, 1947) is an American talk radio host, socially conservative commentator and author. Her radio program consists mainly of her responses to callers’ requests for personal advice and has occasionally featured her short monologues on social and political topics. Her website says that her show “preaches, teaches, and nags about morals, values and ethics”.
Schlessinger used to combine her local radio career with a private practice as a marriage and family counselor, but after going into national syndication, she concentrated her efforts on the daily The Dr. Laura Program, and on writing self-help books. The books Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, and The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands are among her bestselling works. A short-lived television talk show hosted by Schlessinger was launched in 2000. In August 2010, she announced that she would end her syndicated radio show in December 2010.
Her show moved to Sirius XM Radio’s Sirius XM Stars on January 3, 2011. Schlessinger announced a “multi-year” deal to be on satellite radio.
1948 – John Carpenter, American director, producer, screenwriter, and composer
John Howard Carpenter (born January 16, 1948) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, musician, editor and composer. Although Carpenter has worked in numerous film genres, he is most commonly associated with horror and science fiction films from the 1970s and 1980s.
Most films in Carpenter’s career were initially commercial and critical failures, with the notable exceptions of Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), Escape from New York (1981), and Starman (1984). However, many of Carpenter’s films from the 1970s and the 1980s have come to be viewed as cult classics, and he has been acknowledged as an influential filmmaker. Cult classics that Carpenter directed include: Dark Star (1974), Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), The Thing (1982), Christine (1983), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Prince of Darkness (1987), They Live (1988) and In the Mouth of Madness (1995).
Carpenter is also notable for having composed or co-composed most of the music of his films; some of them are now considered cult as well, with the main theme of Halloween being considered a part of popular culture. He released his first studio album Lost Themes in 2015, and also won a Saturn Award for Best Music for Vampires (1998).