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April 2, 1982

The Nobel Duel: Two Scientists' 21-Year Race to Win the World's Most Coveted Research Prize

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1982;247(13):1876-1877. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320380068040

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Nicholas Wade has written a great book. It invites comparison with James Watson's landmark essay, The Double Helix, which first laid bare the quirks and neuroses of scientists that adorn, if not fuel, the conduct of biomedical research. Wade's book is the better of the two, though the discoveries that he chronicles are of lesser importance.

The story involves the search for the postulated hypothalamic factors that were (correctly) thought to regulate pituitary hormone secretion, and the rivalry between the principal characters, Roger Guillemin and Andrew Schally, the scientists who eventually jointly received the Nobel prize for the discoveries. The author has meticulously researched and brilliantly presented the key events and personalities involved. In the masterfully controlled unfolding of the story, the greatness and also the tragic flaws of the protagonists and the system in which they work clearly emerge. With humor and an even hand, Wade dispenses what amounts