A Passano Award, quite as much as John Donne's tolling bell, marks a time in which to pause and to reflect on the interdependence of humankind and of scientists and of scientific progress in particular.
I wonder how many of you can recall the state of chemotherapy 30 years ago? At that time sulfanilamide was hailed as the "drug of the year" by Dr. Morris Fishbein, then editor of The Journal. As quoted by the Boston Herald on Dec 31, 1939, he said, "By repeated success, sulfanilamide established itself as one of medicine's few specifics, those remedies which are especially suited to cure certain diseases. The list includes quinine for malaria, arsphenine for syphilis, and diphtheria antitoxin." Sulfanilamide made four. Period.
What I wish to discuss, however, is not the encouragement which that discovery gave to the search for specific remedies, but rather the conceptual advances that it stimulated. As