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Student JAMA
May 5, 2004

The Evolution and Evaluation of Modern Medical Education

JAMA. 2004;291(17):2138. doi:10.1001/jama.291.17.2138-b

In an era when genome-based pharmacology and therapeutic cloning appear to be not-too-distant possibilities, it is surprising that little more than a century ago, a vigorous and sometimes acrimonious debate over spontaneous generation was unfolding. The idea that beetles, eels, maggots, and—in the 1870s—microbes could arise spontaneously from putrefying matter had been proposed since antiquity.1 It took Louis Pasteur's swan-neck flask experiment, among others, to shepherd medicine from the vitalism and spiritualism of the preceding period of progress to the empiricism of the present one.

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