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July 18, 1980

The Importance of Individual Pursuit in Scientific Research

Author Affiliations

City of Hope National Medical Center Duarte, Calif

JAMA. 1980;244(3):240. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310030016014

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To the Editor.—  The article on the background of the 1979 Nobel laureates in medicine (242:2380, 1979) is fascinating in that such an important achievement as computerized axial tomography has the humble beginning of Cormack's studies of the differential absorption of x-ray radiation by various body tissues.Too often great scientific work is not readily appreciated, and when Cormack's results were published in The Journal of Applied Physics in 1963 and 1964, he received only a few requests for reprints. Fortunately in Cormack's case, his work was noted by Hounsfield, who with creativity and persistence developed these scientific data into powerful diagnostic technology. This story is reminiscent of the triumphant discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick based on the raw scientific data of Wilkins and Franklin. These samples illustrate the value of individual curiosity and pursuit in science.The examples cited also speak for the fact that creative science