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  • Writer's pictureBill

Less Than Honest Biomedical Research

As some of you devoted readers know, Baby Doe, recently published, (and available here) is the first in a series of novels featuring my doppelganger, the feckless Eli Kurz MD. In Baby Doe, Eli has a cameo role as a smart but overbearing and career-focused senior resident.

In the second book in the series, tentatively entitled DiBene, it's the 1990's, and it's all about Eli's first person telling of his attempt to reboot his faltering career at Harvard after having scanted his research.

The obvious questions are why one chooses to do biomedical research, how to do the research, and the rewards and downsides of minimizing clinical work in favor of long days in a lab. Whether one wants to earn fame and glory, getting big grants, or is in it for the joys of making discoveries big or small? And what if the pressures to succeed are such that one takes short cuts?

Many of these questions are addressed in an interesting book I've just finished reading. It's titled Intuition, by Allegre Goodman, published in 2006. She has a large cast of characters all involved with the independent Philpott Institute of Biomedical Research just a hop away from Harvard. Goodman uses third person roving points of view, to give multiple views on what? Basically, some research that deviates, in almost a small way, from norms. To say all hell breaks loose is a vast understatement. Nobody dies, but lives are ruined, time and money are wasted, wrong conclusions are drawn by these fictional, flawed, but very human characters.

These days, trashing those naysayers who trash science and medical research is all the rage, and I'm all for it. But I'm also saying in medical research, like any human endeavour, we can screw up sometimes as well.

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