Animal Experimentation; Cruelty or Science?

Apprentice to Genius: The Making of a Scientific Dynasty
by Robert Kanigel

The Johns Hopkins University Press
P, T, GA **


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Scientists, in pursuing their careers, are judged not only by the number and quality of their publications but also by the "quality" or scientific reputation of their mentor(s). To demonstrate this fact, Kanigel writes a most informative, copiously documented narrative of an illustrious and successful "family" of pharmacologists. Its founding father, Bernard B. Brodie, is characterized as one of the most famous pharmacologists in the world, who started his scientific publishing in 1931 with the first of more than 400 papers. Brodie's merit was to study drugs as chemicals that worked on, and were worked on, by the body--a very different approach from earlier times, when it was noted whether the patient "vomited, or sweated, or urinated, or bled--or died" after a drug was administered. Of course, Brodie influenced a generation of pharmacologists, and the reader is given many scientific and personal details of researchers such as Julius Axelrod, Sol Snyder, and Candace Pert. All, including Brodie, did research with results worthy of a Nobel prize, but only one, Julius Axelrod, received it. Apart from showing how laboratory science works, including publishing and fund raising, the author probes the eternal question why one scientist is awarded a Nobel prize and another with equal merit is not, reminding us of the case of Rosalind Franklin "who helped unravel the structure of DNA... without sharing in the acclaim enjoyed by James Watson and Francis Crick." There is much bitterness in certain passages, which will teach readers that science today is much more than lab work and the publishing of results; many will be astonished to learn about the rivalries and competition that may be the driving forces of thousands of excellent scientific discoveries, whether rewarded by prizes or not.

--Reviewed by Gerhard H. Muller in Science Books and Films, 23/2 (November/December 1987), p. 81.