It was Dr. Robert J. Graves who used to pronounce this statement at the inauguration of his yearly university lectures in Dublin. This was in the nineteen century and he had only just described Graves’ disease, the most common hyperthyroid condition that is so widely recognized today.
There could be at least two complementary ways of interpreting Dr. Graves’ perennial advice. The first way is from a practical viewpoint. It emphasizes the importance of observation and monitoring clinical evolution. This is an important good-practice guide for doctors (and students) that are at a patient’s bedside. This practical approach promotes a deep scrutiny of the disease, taking into consideration that it is not an abstract concept, but an ailment embodied in a given patient.
The second interpretation of Graves’ statement could be more theoretical. Thus the significance of the statement supports the concept of clinical and laboratory research. Physicians must participate in research at all levels: basic, translational, and clinical. Dr. Graves’ counsel encourages efforts to achieve a deep knowledge of disease as individual entities. Therefore, both objectives, practical and theoretical, are closely entwined—laboratory advances connected to the bedside—what we now call translational medicine. Unfortunately, this link is often weak.
CITATION J Thyroid Res. 2012;2012:809231. Epub 2012 May 20
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