Despite the complexities of human biology, medical scientists have mostly focused on exploiting or controlling processes that go wrong, rather than analyzing or exploiting processes that put things right. This is an unfortunate oversight, given that medical decisions can have a major impact on the human body. It is also important to recognize that scientific methods are largely incompatible with the social structures that govern medicine. That said, scientific methods have had some successes.
Unlike other fields, medicine has had the opportunity to contribute to the field of basic science, and basic scientists have contributed to clinical medicine by making discoveries that have transformed practice. In the 1950s, Irving London noted that the fundamental nature of research depended on the quality of the experiment and the quality of the question. Historically, funding and space were more constraining factors for research than ideas. Today, that’s not the case.
While pathology and physiology dominated medical research in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, chemists and physicians often analyzed clinical observations. Pasteur and Ehrlich attended pathology sessions. Until World War II, medical institutions did not grant Ph.D. degrees. This meant that many of the early twentieth-century biochemistry leaders were doctors before becoming scientists. If the aim of medicine is to improve health, then it must address the question of how humans are affected by disease.
The philosophy of medicine has also been influenced by societal trends. One dominant approach views disease concepts as empirical judgments of human physiology. The dominant approach emphasizes biologically normal functioning of relevant classes of humans. This approach is characterized by a focus on what is biologically normal for humans and what is disease. These two perspectives have led to a wide range of conclusions and scientific approaches to health care. Aside from this, it also emphasizes the importance of research in advancing medicine.
The philosophy of medicine has influenced the way doctors diagnose diseases. The most dominant approach views disease concepts as empirical judgments of human physiology. This approach views disease concepts as logical conclusions of research. Its goal is to determine biological criteria for disease. A scientific definition of a disease is a complex problem. The philosophy of medicine must take into account the limitations of the field. Its shortcomings are reflected in all aspects of human health.
The major philosophical approach to medicine considers disease concepts as empirical judgments of human physiology. The “naturalist” philosophy focuses on biologically natural functioning for all human beings. The other approach focuses on biologically natural functions of relevant classes. It claims that disease is a condition that is distinct from normal. Moreover, a scientific approach aims to find out this criterion for disease. These types of ideas are critical to medicine.
Since the 1970s, the gap between basic science and medicine has been growing. In particular, the scientific community has focused on implementing the advances in biology and medicine. The gap between these two areas has become greater. It has been difficult to apply the advances in basic science to disease. However, this gap requires collaboration between clinical and basic scientists. For instance, most of the basic scientists have little knowledge of pathobiology. It is therefore important to develop sufficient expertise in pathobiology so as to attack disease-related problems. This is where the role of physician-scientists comes in.
The number of medical researchers has increased sevenfold in the last 70 years. This is a sign of the progress in medicine. The number of discoveries in basic science has been enormous and fundamental, but the gaps between the two fields have been increasing for decades. It took 17 years for a single discovery to be translated into a new therapeutic technique. And the difference between clinical and preclinical research is more complicated than that. It depends on the nature of the research questions.
The main difference between basic and clinical science is the method of study. During the nineteenth century, pathology and physiology were the dominant medical disciplines, and chemists subsequently made discoveries that profoundly changed the practice of medicine. In 19th century Europe, there was no PhD degree, and most doctors were trained as physicians first. By the time of World War II, this difference was no longer relevant, but it did make the difference between basic and clinical research.