Most people think of scientific advancement as sparks of genius that occur in a few exceptional individuals, or that a few people can jump scientific advancement forward by huge steps. This idea of big scientific movers creates an impression that a scientist can’t be important unless they make a big contribution. I think this is extremely misguided. I think that in all scientific fields, especially in genetics, scientists need thousands of little, inconsequential discoveries before any large breakthrough can be made. The discoveries that make a real difference are often found because the discoverer was in a lucky place in line of scientific discoveries. Without the thousands of little discoveries before the big one, nothing can happen. Using sickle cell as an example, in 1956 Vernon Ingram discovered the amino acid that determined whether someone had sickle cell or not(Winter). Medical treatments came right after his discovery, and he was labeled as a medical savior. For all the good he did, he rested on the shoulders of Scriver and Waugh, the discoverers of sickle cell(Hamosh), and on Dr. James V. Neel proved that sickle cell is hereditary in 1949(Winter), or Linus Pauling and Harvey Itano who tied sickle cell to hemoglobin in 1951(Winter), or the host of other researchers that had their hands in the hundreds of discoveries that led to our accumulated knowledge of sickle cell. I will be looking through medical journals and government websites to find proof that leaps in science are not made my one man, individuals can only take baby steps.
Hamosh, ada. OMIM Entry – # 603903 – SICKLE CELL ANEMIA. 13 June 1999, https://www.omim.org/entry/603903.
“Learning About Sickle Cell Disease.” National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), https://www.genome.gov/10001219/Learning-About-Sickle-Cell-Disease. Accessed 2 Nov. 2017.
Mayo Clinic Staff. Sickle Cell Anemia – Diagnosis and Treatment – Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sickle-cell-anemia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355882. Accessed 2 Nov. 2017.
Winter, William. A Brief History of Sickle Cell Disease. http://www.sicklecell.howard.edu/ABriefHistoryofSickleCellDisease.htm. Accessed 2 Nov. 2017.