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February 11, 2009

The Voyage Continues: Darwin and Medicine at 200 Years

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Departments of Genetics and Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill.

JAMA. 2009;301(6):663-665. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.102

On February 12, 1809, Charles Darwin was born in the small market town of Shrewsbury, England. He was an adventurous voyager, as a young man at age 22 embarking upon an epic circumnavigation of the globe aboard the HMS Beagle. However, upon returning to England 5 years later, he attached himself with the tenacity of a barnacle to home and hearth, rarely straying for the remainder of his life. Nevertheless, Darwin's intellectual voyage had only begun when he took up residence at Down House and over the next 41 years, his sedentary habits would belie a far-ranging intellect. His insights and clear unassuming prose would bring order to the chaos of biology, expose the mechanisms that underpin life's diversity, and illuminate the origins of our species.