From the Director
This is a marvelous accomplishment that signals the beginning of what will surely be an extraordinary era of medical discovery and progress. Human Genome Map Poses Opportunities and Responsibilities

The announcement that the mapping of the human genome is virtually complete truly is a milestone in human history. This is a marvelous accomplishment that signals the beginning of what will surely be an extraordinary era of medical discovery and progress. That era should extend through this century and well into the next, providing generations of scientists and health professionals with unprecedented opportunities to understand our chemical building blocks, improve human health, and transform the delivery of health care.

Yet, it can be somewhat daunting to stand at the threshold of a new era. It is hard not to be awed by both the opportunities and the responsibilities we face. Access to the genome database will open up millions of new avenues for research. It will also raise tough new ethical, access, and equity issues for everyone from policy makers to patients. It will take the combined resources of many thousands of people and institutions worldwide to fully exploit the possibilities and understand the implications of the genomic revolution. And it will take time, not simply to conduct the necessary research, but to have the public dialogue necessary to guide the research and adapt our health care and social systems to the new realities as they unfold. As a health professional, it is hard to imagine a more exciting future.

It is interesting to note that, while the genome mapping effort began as a publicly funded effort of a consortium of universities and nonprofit research centers, it is culminating in a "cooperative" effort of the public consortium and a private, for-profit company. This sort of coopetition is emblematic of our current era, where we are still exploring the best ways to combine, or at least leverage together, the strengths of public- and private-sector institutions in the pursuit of improving health. While the initial quest for the complete genome was conceived and funded as a public good, that quest was accelerated and variously invigorated by the appearance of a parallel private-sector effort. It remains to be seen how the two efforts will play out, but there is little doubt that both public and private interests will play necessary and important roles in any conceivable future for medical science.

The goal of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center is nothing less than to be at the forefront of both today's and tomorrow's progress in health research, education, care, and service. Lest we get too carried away with imagining far distant futures, this issue of Momentum continues to explore the enormous array of exciting research, care, and policy efforts in which Emory faculty, students, and staff are making major contributions today.

In our "On Point" essay, William Bornstein puts the recent Institute of Medicine report on medical errors in perspective and describes some of the ways in which Emory has been addressing the issue. This is not simply a medical problem but one that implicates our legal system and a broader array of social and ethical issues. We would like to hear further thoughts about the issue of medical errors from other members of the Emory community. Please address letters to our editor.

In this Issue

From the Director  /  Letters

Imitation of Nature

A Cut, a Shave, and a
Blood Pressure Check

Medical Mistakes:
Human Error or System Failure?

Moving Forward  /  Noteworthy

Putting on the Ritz, Part Two


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Send comments to the Editors.
Web version by Jaime Henriquez.