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June 4, 1982

Guido Majno, MD: raconteur of medical lore

JAMA. 1982;247(21):2882-2884. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320460010003

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It all started with a leisurely one-week perusal of the literature on blood vessels. Next thing he knew, it was a 20-year project tracing the history of wound healing.

It could only happen to someone who finds the history of medicine as fascinating as the practice of it.

"I think there is a link between pathology and history—they're both about mechanisms," says Guido Majno, MD, chairman of pathology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and author of the former Book-of-the-Month Club offering, The Healing Hand, published in 1975 (Harvard University Press, Cambridge). "Many historians of medicine were pathologists, and if you're interested in mechanisms you become a pathologist."

Majno's desire to understand why and how medicine evolved led him to original manuscripts from the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, India, and Iran, among others. Because of this, reading The Healing Hand is like going through