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June 17, 1992

Preserve Your Love for Science: Life of William A. Hammond, American Neurologist

Author Affiliations

Nashville, Tenn

JAMA. 1992;267(23):3216. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480230116041

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"Preserve your love of science," William Hammond advised medical students. This was the maxim that sustained him as his career oscillated from the heights of success to the depths of despair.

During the 1850s, Hammond served as a US Army physician beyond the frontier. He used his free time at lonely Western army posts to perform original scientific research, using himself as his sole experimental subject. By measuring chemicals such as urea in his urine, he tried to show metabolic changes produced by prolonged heavy physical exercise and, most interestingly, by prolonged mental exertion.

He resigned from the army to begin an academic career with the University of Maryland, but the Civil War began. He returned as a very junior officer, but was soon promoted, over the heads of many other medical officers, to become Surgeon General of the Union Army. His vigorous leadership helped maintain the health of the