October 23, 1987

Gerald Weissmann: Belletrist in the Laboratory

JAMA. 1987;258(16):2215-2216. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400160069011

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"IT'S NO EASIER. If anything, the more I do it, the more difficult it becomes." Gerald Weissmann, MD, whose bibliography sports almost 400 entries, is describing the act of writing.

Weissmann, professor of medicine and director of rheumatology at New York University School of Medicine, is not referring to the process of drafting the steady stream of scientific papers that emanates from his laboratories at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. He is expressing the angst of producing the carefully crafted 2000-word essays that appear bimonthly under his byline in Hospital Practice. Many of these essays have been collected in two volumes, Woods Hole Cantata and They All Laughed at Christopher Columbus.

To Weissmann the two forms of literature have little in common; he thinks they require very separate types of thought and talent. "The ability to write well is probably