NOBEL THOUGHTS: Joseph Murray

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NOBEL THOUGHTS: Joseph Murray

Profound Insights of the Laureates

by Marc Abrahams

Joseph Murray is emeritus professor of surgery at the Harvard Medical School and chief of plastic surgery emeritus at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston. In 1990 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his role in performing the first successful kidney transplant. We spoke in a colleague's office at the Medical School.

In your opinion, what is the best way to eat corn on the cob — vertically, horizontally, or some other way?

A. What other way is there? Horizontally is the way I do it. I can't imagine doing it vertically. You might get labyrinthitis or something.

What food is most effective for stimulating thought?

A. I think breakfast cereal. You're fresh in the morning, and you've got the day ahead of you and you're looking ahead. It's my time for really doing a little spiritual reading ahead of time, and then you think for the day. I like dry cereal with milk. I don't like eggs because they're too difficult to cut. The beauty of dry cereal and milk is that you can eat it without thinking, whereas eggs you've got to figure out how not to spill it and all on your necktie. I find breakfast cereal, even before I go to bed at night, is very good.

When you have a cold, what are your favorite (as opposed to your recommended) foods?

A. Well, just lots of water, and Bufferin, and go to bed.

Any other favorite rituals for getting rid of a cold?

A. No. Mostly sleep.

Do you have any advice for young people who are entering the field?

A. What field?

Your field.

A. My field is kind of difficult to identify. Primarily I'm a doctor taking care of patients. My advice to anybody wanting to be a physician is to love people and like taking care of them. That leads to a lot of ramifications. I went to medical school merely to take care of patients. I had no idea of all the ramifications and the amplifications of the profession. And I certainly didn't have any idea of what research is. That just came out of probably limited vision. But, you know, it opened up when I got to medical school.


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