Letter from the Editor
We recently read about the work of a scientist named Fritz Haber, who helped develop the Haber–Bosch process between 1894 and 1911. Never heard of Haber? You
should have. He may be the reason you’re here to read these words today. His process
led to the production of nitrogen-based products like fertilizers. At that time, the
work of economist Thomas Malthus predicted that subsistence would never be able
to keep up with the exponential growth of the world population. In other words, in
a few generations billions of us would starve. Haber’s discovery made it suddenly
possible to fertilize and grow much larger agricultural yields, capable of feeding our
That’s just one example of the many amazing leaps that science has brought us. In healthcare, for instance,
where would we be without the work of Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin in vaccines? Success in surgical procedures depended greatly on the likes of William Morton in anesthesia and
Joseph Lister in antisepsis. Sir Alexander Fleming’s work in antibiotics was just the beginning of a long string
of miracles that today fight bacterial and viral illnesses like AIDS. Wilhelm Röntgen’s breakthrough work in
X-rays brought us to the modern era of imaging that helps identify and fight many of the ills that were previously invisible without dangerous surgery. The history of painkillers goes back centuries to natural remedies
like opium, but it’s only been in the last few decades that pain management has emerged as its own science,
precisely identifying and treating the numerous kinds of discomfort we experience.
We live in a seemingly magical age in which so many diseases and conditions that have beset humankind
for eons are now under control. And yet there are so many more—cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, congenital conditions—that continue to challenge us. Then there’s the threat of the superbugs, mutated versions of
microscopic beasties that are immune to our best weapons.
But the history of our battle is one of continual victories. Waiting and watching and working for the next
triumph is what healthcare is all about. What a fascinating industry to be part of.
As always, we continue to look for the value of your contributions. Let us know if you have an idea for an
article—the people we write for are the people who write for us.
Neil Greenberg, Editor
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