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November 1962

Four Decades of Progress in Infectious Diseases

Author Affiliations


From the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Department of Medicine.

Arch Intern Med. 1962;110(5):560-562. doi:10.1001/archinte.1962.03620230006002

The 40 years that have passed since Maxwell Finland began his medical career have been perhaps the most significant 40 years in medical history, certainly the 40 years most filled with practical achievements. This has been true most of all in his special area of interest—infectious diseases. We have learned how to prevent and cure many infections that would have meant death or prolonged disability in 1922. The facts that support this statement are so well known that I shall not repeat them. But can we learn anything else from a backward look at these 4 decades? Whitehead has said that the greatest invention of the nineteenth century was the invention of the method of invention, including the process of disciplined attack upon one difficulty after another.1 Progress in knowledge of infections is an excellent example of the results of such a disciplined attack. From an examination of the

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