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December 13, 1965

The Business of Discovery in the Medical Sciences

Author Affiliations

From the Ben May Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Chicago.

JAMA. 1965;194(11):1211-1215. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090240045012

This essay is shoptalk concerned with the craft of medical research; it is a credo of creativeness. A century ago Claude Bernard described his approach to science wherein experimental medicine was conceived to be a specific discipline defined as the application of physiology to pathology: "Physiology must be constantly applied to medicine."1 Claude Bernard's classic work has had a continuing and profound influence on successive generations of investigators, but Emerson said, "Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding."2

It is a pleasant vocation to do experiments while teaching young people how to find out new and beautiful and helpful things—how to do elegant Science. It becomes a philosophy because excellence in work engenders excellence in life. These remarks can be reminiscent of the traditional professor of economics who, it is alleged, knows everything about money but doesn't