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July 23, 1997

A Most Satisfactory Man: The Story of Theodore Brevard Hayne, Last Martyr of Yellow Fever

Author Affiliations

Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute Chulalongkorn University Bangkok, Thailand

JAMA. 1997;278(4):342. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550040098050

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This book deserves praise as a fascinating, well-written, historical study of a little-known great "young Turk" of American medicine: Theodore B. Hayne. Here is a man of average high school and college achievements but with a burning curiosity that ranged from entomology, epidemiology, and clinical infectious disease to automobile mechanics. Would such a young man even make it into a respected medical college or postgraduate science faculty today? Indeed, Hayne could serve as an example that motivation, a wide range of interests, perseverance, and the ability to improvise and think creatively combined with good intellect can be predictors for achievement in science.

What held my attention most, however, as an infectious disease physician in a tropical environment, was the discussion of the direct, technology-poor approaches to problem solving—now almost unknown—in field research some six decades ago. This was the age when enzyme-linked immunosrobent assays, radioisotope studies, and most other sophisticated