Archibald Garrod and the individuality of Man

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Clarendon Press, 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 227 pages
In this scholarly and insightful biography, Alexander G. Bearn, a physician and a scientist in the Garrodian tradition, has drawn a portrait of one of the great minds of twentieth century medicine. It is story of intellectual achievement. But the book also gives a fascinating account of the life of a talented professional family and a perspective on the practice of medicine and on medical education at the turn of the century. Archibald Garrod is chiefly remembered as the originator of the concept of inborn metabolic error, an idea which grew from his studies of families with diseases whose biochemical basis he was able to identify. He was widely recognized for this achievement in his own lifetime and held a respected position in the medical establishment, a position accorded to him on the basis of his scientific achievement rather than for any great clinical skill. But to concentrate on the concept of inborn errors is to overlook what has in time turned out to be Garrod's greatest achievement, for it was he who first saw that genetics, biochemistry, and medicine are fundamentally linked. He propounded, to all who would listen, his thesis that disease can only be properly studied in the light of an individual's genetic susceptibility, and that that in turn rests on biochemical individuality. Only by thinking of human diseases as the consequences of genetic and environmental interaction are the advances of today's and tomorrow's medicine possible.

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