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Rivalries in Medicine: How Humanity Can Benefit from the Worst in People

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, March 20, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0349
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Syringe used by Jonas Salk during the early testing of his polio vaccine carried out in 1952 and 1953 (Smithsonian Institution)

The greatest discoveries in medicine were made by brilliant doctors who overcame setbacks and persevered through adversity. Yet none were saints. They were human, fallible, and often guilty of arrogance, envy, and self-interest. Such flaws frequently harmed their reputations and hindered their productivity—but not always. Sometimes these failings resulted in competition and rivalry that spurred incredible breakthroughs.

Surgeon and author Andrew Lam reveals how the rivalries between Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, and the quartet of doctors who warred over credit for the discovery of anesthesia harmed each individual but benefited humankind and saved millions of lives. 

Lam is an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and author of The Masters of Medicine: Our Greatest Triumphs in the Race to Cure Humanity’s Deadliest Diseases.

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Inside Science