GTN Celebrates Pride Month: Alan Hart & M. Tuberculosis

Author(s) orcid logoHelena Rasche avatar Helena Rasche

Posted on: 1 June 2023 purlPURL:

June is Pride Month in the US and countries around the world. We have automatically activated the new Progress Pride theme on the home page (Click to Activate) if you hadn’t already selected a theme.

This month we want to highlight the contributions of Alan L. Hart, an American physician and radiologist who pioneered the use of X-Rays to screen for Tuberculosis. Dr. Hart was one of the first trans men to have a hysterectomy in the US.


Tuberculosis, mostly caused by Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, is 13th leading cause of death. It was temporarily decreased to the 2nd leading cause of death by an infectious agent, due to the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Sadly, it retains this position despite being preventable and curable (WHO 2023).

Roughly 23% of the world’s population is infected with M. tuberculosis, it claims 1.5 million lives each year (CDC 2020).

Alan L. Hart

Hart graduated from Albany College in 1912, and in 1917 obtained a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Oregon Medical Department in Portland (now Oregon Health & Science University); […] Hart devoted much of his career to research into and treatment of tuberculosis. In the early 20th century the disease was the biggest killer in America. … Hart was among the first physicians to document how it then spread, via the circulatory system, causing lesions on the kidneys, spine, and brain, eventually resulting in death […] In the early twentieth century [X-Rays] were used to detect bone fractures and tumors, but Hart became interested in their potential for detecting tuberculosis. Since the disease often presented no symptoms in its early stages, x-ray screening was invaluable for early detection.

In 1937 Hart was hired by the Idaho Tuberculosis Association and later became the state’s Tuberculosis Control Officer. He established up Idaho’s first fixed-location and mobile TB screening clinics and spearheaded the state’s war against tuberculosis. Between 1933 and 1945 Hart traveled extensively through rural Idaho, covering thousands of miles while lecturing, conducting mass TB screenings, training new staff, and treating the effects of the epidemic.

An experienced and accessible writer, Hart wrote widely for medical journals and popular publications, describing TB for technical and general audiences and giving advice on its prevention, detection, and cure. At the time the word “tuberculosis” carried a social stigma akin to venereal disease, so Hart insisted his clinics be referred to as “chest clinics”, himself as a “chest doctor”, and his patients as “chest patients”. Discretion and compassion were important tools in treating the stigmatised disease.

In 1943 Hart, now recognised as preeminent in the field of tubercular Roentgenology, compiled his extensive evidence on TB and other x-ray-detectable cases into a definitive compendium, These Mysterious Rays: A Nontechnical Discussion of the Uses of X-rays and Radium, Chiefly in Medicine (pub. Harper & Brothers), still a standard text today. The book was translated into several languages, including Spanish.

Read more on Wikipedia contributors 2023

The GTN Connection

The GTN has a series of tutorials dedicated to the analysis and screening of M. Tuberculosis data

GTN & Pride

This news post was produced by a Helena, a queer, trans Galaxy committer and current GTN Co-Lead.


  1. CDC, 2020 Tuberculosis.
  2. WHO, 2023 Tuberculosis.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, 2023 Alan L. Hart — Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. [Online; accessed 2-June-2023].
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