Physician-scientists, who study the pathogenesis of disease by using both bedside observations and modern laboratory techniques, are decreasing in number. Ideally, in any profession, some members are devoted to developing its scholarly basis; in contrast, technologists perform activities derived from the work of scientists or scholars. Therefore, the decreasing number of physician-scientists may cause medicine to become a technology rather than a profession.
This atrophy in patient-oriented research is caused in part by the current state of laboratory science: Discoveries that are not generated from clinical observations often elucidate many aspects of disease. Furthermore, economic necessities have impelled research-oriented physicians to choose between delivery of health care and performance of basic laboratory science. This paper discusses the continuing need for detailed observation of human disease as a driving force in the development of biomedical science, which combines clinical and laboratory observations. To further the development of this field, the Association for Patient-Oriented Research has been founded. This association will be a new forum in which physician-scientists can present their work and encourage other physicians to join in the research endeavor.