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Creating the “Aha!” moment

October 20, 2010

As we all know, the practice of medicine is not a perfect science.  The study of human biology has some unique aspects that have challenged its progress. 

First, we didn’t invent, design, or build the human body.  While the field of communications evolved from smoke signals to newspapers to websites on a smart phone, the science of medicine has been that of reverse engineering the human body.  In order to fix it, we need to know how the darn thing works.  While we have made progress, it’s been estimated that we can only back up about 20% of what we do in our practice of medicine with actual science.  There’s a great deal more out there that we still have to discover.

A great deal has been learned about how the human body works in the past half-century.  In large part, this has been due to the growth in research funding provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as growing opportunities in private industry.  Much of the work done by the NIH has been by extramural investigators, each working incrementally to unravel some area of biology that fascinates them.  Such work is critically important, albeit tediously and frustratingly slow.  Yet it produces the necessary background knowledge for major discoveries.  There are several spectacular discoveries that seem to about through epiphanies, such as the discovery of endorphins.  Once the opoid recepter was found in mammalian cells, investigators started to ask why there would be a receptor in the brain for a molecule derived from a plant.

Such curiosity is critical for the evolution of our industry.  This blog hopes to stimulate that curiosity.  We seek fresh perspectives in health care science and delivery, often using the 30,000 foot view, maybe even the 30,000 mile view, to stimulate new questions and, ultimately, new answers.

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