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March 1990


Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(3):283. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150270033020

During my senior year in medical school, I had to write and deliver a paper to an undergraduate medical society. After much thought, I chose cystic fibrosis as my topic. It was a "hot disease." Although undoubtedly sickening and killing people or millennia, cystic fibrosis had been recognized1 a mere decade previously. Investigators in New York and Boston had sharply differing views on the pathogenesis of its pulmonary anifestations. Andersen and Hodges2 at Columbia University felt strongly that vitamin A played a key role, whereas Farber3 at Harvard University had coined the term mucoviscidosis to describe what he believed was an inborn disease of all mucus-secreting glands.

In preparing my paper I was able to read the entire world's literature on the subject, and for a brief heady moment knew everything that had been published about the disease. (I have been falling farther and farther behind since then.) As boring as that paper was, in retrospect it was crucial in my pediatric