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September 26, 1977

The Horizons of Health

JAMA. 1977;238(13):1413. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280140091039

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With eminent contributors and well-planned contents, this book has a double purpose. It surveys recent research in various medical disciplines; it also pleads for a greater degree of public funding for basic medical research. The foreword, by Donald S. Fredrickson, director of the National Institutes of Health, sets the tone. Basic biomedical research, he points out, brings about "tangible improvements in health care." It has a substantial practical return with a high benefit-cost ratio. Investment in research is a good investment. The "potential benefits" of basic research are sufficiently great to warrant generous government funding. The book, both explicitly and implicitly, pleads for such public support.

But this special pleading, however important it may have been in the planning of the book, is fortunately not really important in the finished product. In 27 well-written chapters, 32 authorities—all but one from Boston — describe progress in the past ten to 25