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Halsted R. Holman and the Struggle for the Soul of Medicine

Brigham author: Matthew H. Liang

This book describes the major changes in American medicine and health care that took place during 100 years of efforts to deliver the fruits of biomedical science to all. The story is told through the life of Halsted Reid Holman, an icon in American academic medicine and arguably one of the most notable academic leaders in the U.S. His story is extraordinary, human, and inspiring.

A charismatic figure, beloved doctor, brilliant bench scientist, innovative teacher, mentor to many leaders in American medicine and leader of one of the world’s great academic medical centers, Holman was a change agent who challenged orthodoxy, injustice and arrogance and took others to a vision they could not imagine. He was a major figure, shaping and reacting to the rise of molecular medicine and all the changes in U.S. health care: the beginning of Medicare/Medicaid, the growth of the health insurance industry and the medical–industrial complex, health maintenance organizations, the disappearance of municipal hospitals and chronic disease and mental health hospitals, widening health disparities, Obama’s Affordable Care Act and the tension between health care as a basic human right and as a business. Holman’s responses were singular, humanitarian, principled, action-oriented, data-driven, collaborative with patients and a departure from a worldview that knowledge and technology will solve all ills and that only experts can see the truth.