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Siddhartha Mukherjee quotes (showing 1-30 of 492)

“History repeats, but science reverberates.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“The art of medicine is long, Hippocrates tells us, "and life is short; opportunity fleeting; the experiment perilous; judgment flawed.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“It remains an astonishing, disturbing fact that in America - a nation where nearly every new drug is subjected to rigorous scrutiny as a potential carcinogen, and even the bare hint of a substance's link to cancer ignites a firestorm of public hysteria and media anxiety - one of the most potent and common carcinogens known to humans can be freely bought and sold at every corner store for a few dollars.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“But the story of leukemia--the story of cancer--isn't the story of doctors who struggle and survive, moving from institution to another. It is the story of patients who struggle and survive, moving from on embankment of illness to another. Resilience, inventiveness, and survivorship--qualities often ascribed to great physicians--are reflected qualities, emanating first from those who struggle with illness and only then mirrored by those who treat them. If the history of medicine is told through the stories of doctors, it is because their contributions stand in place of the more substantive heroism of their patients.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“In God we trust. All others [must] have data. - Bernard Fisher”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“Cancer was not disorganized chromosomal chaos. It was organized chromosomal chaos”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“Down to their innate molecular core, cancer cells are hyperactive, survival-endowed, scrappy, fecund, inventive copies of ourselves.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“Freaks become norms, and norms become extinct. Monster by monster, evolution advanced”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing. —Voltaire”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies
“Normalcy is the antithesis of evolution.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“In 2005, a man diagnosed with multiple myeloma asked me if he would be alive to watch his daughter graduate from high school in a few months. In 2009, bound to a wheelchair, he watched his daughter graduate from college. The wheelchair had nothing to do with his cancer. The man had fallen down while coaching his youngest son's baseball team.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“If we define "beauty" as having blue eyes (and only blue eyes), then we will, indeed, find a "gene for beauty." If we define "intelligence" as the performance on only one kind of test, then we will, indeed, find a "gene for intelligence." The genome is only a mirror for the breadth or narrowness of human imagination.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“This was yet another colonial fascination: to create the conditions of misery in a population, then subject it to social or medical experimentation.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“One swallow is a coincidence, but two swallows make summer.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“Memories sharpen the past; it is reality that decays.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“The point is this: if you cannot separate the phenotype of mental illness from creative impulses, then you cannot separate the genotype of mental illness and creative impulse.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“The daughter of Lithuanian immigrants, born with a precocious scientific intellect and a thirst for chemical knowledge, Elion had completed a master's degree in chemistry from New York University in 1941 while teaching high school science during the day and preforming her research for her thesis at night and on the weekends. Although highly qualified, talented, and driven, she had been unable to find a job in an academic laboratory. Frustrated by repeated rejections, she had found a position as a supermarket product supervisor. When Hitchings found Trudy Elion, who would soon become on of the most innovative synthetic chemists of her generation (and a future Nobel laureate), she was working for a food lab in New York, testing the acidity of pickles and the color of egg yolk going into mayonnaise. Rescued from a life of pickles and mayonnaise…”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“Seek simplicity, but distrust it,” Alfred North Whitehead, the mathematician and philosopher, once advised his students. Dobzhansky”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“It is tempting to write the history of technology through products: the wheel; the microscope; the airplane; the Internet. But it is more illuminating to write the history of technology through transitions: linear motion to circular motion; visual space to subvisual space; motion on land to motion on air; physical connectivity to virtual connectivity.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“Like musicians, like mathematicians—like elite athletes—scientists peak early and dwindle fast. It isn’t creativity that fades, but stamina: science is an endurance sport. To produce that single illuminating experiment, a thousand nonilluminating experiments have to be sent into the trash; it is battle between nature and nerve. Avery”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“Cancer's life is a recapitulation of the body's life, its existence a pathological mirror of our own.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“The greatest clinicians who I know seem to have a sixth sense for biases. They understand, almost instinctively, when prior bits of scattered knowledge apply to their patients—but, more important, when they don’t apply to their patients.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Laws of Medicine: Field Notes from an Uncertain Science
“In the laboratory, we call this the six-degrees-of-separation-from-cancer rule: you can ask any biological question, no matter how seemingly distant—what makes the heart fail, or why worms age, or even how birds learn songs—and you will end up, in fewer than six genetic steps, connecting with a proto-oncogene or tumor suppressor.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies
“Three profoundly destabilizing scientific ideas ricochet through the twentieth century, trisecting it into three unequal parts: the atom, the byte, the gene.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“It was Disney World fused with Cancerland.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“Cancer, perhaps, is an ultimate perversion of genetics—a genome that becomes pathologically obsessed with replicating itself. The”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“Our ability to read out this sequence of our own genome has the makings of a philosophical paradox. Can an intelligent being comprehend the instructions to make itself? —John Sulston Scholars”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“All cancers are alike but they are alike in a unique way.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“History repeats itself, in part because the genome repeats itself. And the genome repeats itself, in part because history does. The impulses, ambitions, fantasies, and desires that drive human history are, at least in part, encoded in the human genome. And human history has, in turn, selected genomes that carry these impulses, ambitions, fantasies, and desires. This self-fulfilling circle of logic is responsible for some of the most magnificent and evocative qualities in our species, but also some of the most reprehensible. It is far too much to ask ourselves to escape the orbit of this logic, but recognizing its inherent circularity, and being skeptical of its overreach, might protect the week from the will of the strong, and the 'mutant' from being annihilated by the 'normal'.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
“How can one capture genes that behave like ghosts," Weinberg wrote, "influencing cells from behind some dark curtain?”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

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