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January 5, 1990

MDs of the Millennium— The dozen who made a difference

JAMA. 1990;263(1):108-113. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440010106041

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IN 10 SHORT years, a millennium will have passed, offering medical historians an opportunity to look back upon 1000 years of history and trace the movements and trends that have led to modern medicine.

"The whole history of medicine," says Lester S. King, MD, "is, perhaps, a progressive discrimination." He explains, "Someone with special insight, or special technique, is able to point out a distinction that had previously gone unnoticed. What seemed simple is found to be complex; what seemed unitary is found to be multiple.

"But there is an opposite and compensatory trend, for as differences multiply, new relationships are noted, which connect up the multiplicity. The process is unending—one into many, and the many back into one—but always, like an ascending spiral, reaching new levels."

King, 81, a JAMA Contributing Editor, wrote these words in 1963 in his second book of medical history, The Growth of Medical Thought