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January 1992

Molecular Biology: The Message, Its Language, and the Surgeon

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles, Calif

Arch Surg. 1992;127(1):15. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1992.01420010021002

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


The message is on the wall, but it is not easy to read. Simply stated, it says that molecular biology is in the process of fundamentally changing both our concepts and our treatment of disease. As if that were not enough, we are also seeking to learn about what we call "life" in the human genome project. The pity is that not many surgeons understand either the language, the implications of the message, or even their role in the conversation. This needs to be changed promptly.

It is curious that such a profound message would be written in such an arcane language. Cosmids, YACs, centi-morgans, RFLPs, telemeric, and contigs are not in the parlance of the practicing surgeon. The language is not our tongue. The reasons are obvious. Most of the advances in molecular biology have occurred in the past few years. The vocabulary is new. Moreover, the rate at

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