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Contempo Updates
March 22/29, 2000

The Impact of the Polymerase Chain Reaction in Clinical Medicine

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Center for Genomic Sciences, Allegheny Singer Research Institute, and the Department of Surgery, Allegheny General Hospital (Drs Post and Ehrlich), and the Departments of Otolaryngology (Drs Post and Ehrlich) and Human Genetics (Dr Ehrlich), MCP-Hahnemann University School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pa.

JAMA. 2000;283(12):1544-1546. doi:10.1001/jama.283.12.1544

Consider the plight of the medieval scholar. Before the advent of movable type, scholarship was greatly hindered by a lack of access to necessary texts. Even a journey to the library of a far-away monastery did not guarantee finding one of the few existing copies of a book, and the volume, once found after a long search, might prove to be a faulty copy produced by a careless scribe. Gutenberg's invention of printing from movable type revolutionized scholarship, leading to an explosion of new knowledge. Any number of copies of exactly replicated texts could be produced, greatly enhancing the probability that the scholar would come across the needed information, and in turn produce new information that could be shared with others.