V. Social Determinants of Medical Knowledge

René Dubos, PhD
JAMA. 1965;194(13):1371-1373. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090260031009.
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Exactly 100 years ago, in the fall of 1865, Claude Bernard published his Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, now regarded as one of the medical classics. Despite its austere language, the Introduction immediately achieved popularity with the educated public. The intellectual atmosphere was favorable for Claude Bernard's thesis because of the general awareness that the time had come to convert medicine from an empirical art into a scientific discipline. Claude Bernard would probably regard the event we are celebrating as the most suitable form of commemoration for the centenary of his book. However, it is for another reason that I have mentioned him. My purpose is to illustrate that social forces exert a profound influence on the success of scientific philosophies and medical institutions.

Medicine became scientific through anatomical, physiological, and biochemical studies. Yet, the first large research institutes were not organized around these sciences; they were devoted


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