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November 7, 2012

Viewing Cardiovascular Research Through the Eyes of Past, Present, and Future Generations

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, North Carolina (Dr Peterson); and Division of Aging, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr Gaziano). Drs Peterson and Gaziano are also Contributing Editors, JAMA.

JAMA. 2012;308(17):1809-1810. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.28743

William Harvey, the 17th-century English physician who first correctly described how the heart pumped blood around the body, was quoted as saying, “All we know is still infinitely less than all that remains unknown.” To his credit and humility, he understood that his work only set the stage for many discoveries yet to come. All physicians could learn important lessons from Harvey. Looking back to past research can provide interesting insights into how the field of cardiovascular medicine got to where it is and also important hints on where it may be going. Yet historical reviews can also be humbling, demonstrating how prior generations had inaccurately interpreted their findings and in other cases, how slow clinicians have been in adopting past advances.

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