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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > Joseph E. Murray Quotes

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Joseph E. Murray
(1 Apr 1919 - 26 Nov 2012)

American surgeon.


Science Quotes by Joseph E. Murray (19 quotes)

As a second year high school chemistry student, I still have a vivid memory of my excitement when I first saw a chart of the periodic table of elements. The order in the universe seemed miraculous, and I wanted to study and learn as much as possible about the natural sciences.
— Joseph E. Murray
In Tore Frängsmyr and Jan E. Lindsten (eds.), Nobel Lectures: Physiology Or Medicine: 1981-1990 (1993), 555.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (227)  |  Chart (5)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Element (129)  |  Excitement (33)  |  First (174)  |  High School (6)  |  Learn (160)  |  Memory (81)  |  Miraculous (7)  |  Natural Science (62)  |  Order (167)  |  Periodic (2)  |  Student (131)  |  Study (331)  |  Table (25)  |  Universe (563)  |  Vivid (16)

From earliest memory I wanted to be a surgeon, possibly influenced by the qualities of our family doctor who cared for our childhood ailments.
— Joseph E. Murray
In Tore Frängsmyr and Jan E. Lindsten (eds.), Nobel Lectures: Physiology Or Medicine: 1981-1990 (1993), 555.
Science quotes on:  |  Ailment (4)  |  Biography (227)  |  Childhood (23)  |  Influence (110)  |  Surgeon (43)

I had no idea of the worldwide influence of it [the world’s first kidney transplant]. It expanded to other organs, multiple organs.
— Joseph E. Murray
As quoted by Alvin Powell in 'A Transplant Makes History', Harvard Gazette (22 Sep 2011).
Science quotes on:  |  Expand (14)  |  First (174)  |  Idea (440)  |  Influence (110)  |  Kidney (13)  |  Multiple (9)  |  Organ (60)  |  Transplant (8)  |  World (667)

I tell [medical students] that they are the luckiest persons on earth to be in medical school, and to forget all this worry about H.M.O.'s and keep your eye on helping the patient. It's the best time ever to be a doctor because you can heal and treat conditions that were untreatable even a couple of years ago.
— Joseph E. Murray
From Cornelia Dean, 'A Conversation with Joseph E. Murray', New York Times (25 Sep 2001), F5.
Science quotes on:  |  Advice (33)  |  Best (129)  |  Condition (119)  |  Doctor (100)  |  Forget (40)  |  Heal (4)  |  Help (68)  |  Luck (25)  |  Patient (116)  |  Student (131)  |  Time (439)  |  Treat (17)  |  Worry (27)

If gold medals and prizes were awarded to institutions instead of individuals, the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital of 30 years ago would have qualified. The ruling board and administrative structure of that hospital did not falter in their support of the quixotic objective of treating end-stage renal disease despite a long list of tragic failures that resulted from these early efforts.
— Joseph E. Murray
In Tore Frängsmyr and Jan E. Lindsten (eds.), Nobel Lectures: Physiology Or Medicine: 1981-1990 (1993), 558.
Science quotes on:  |  Administrator (6)  |  Award (5)  |  Board (5)  |  Brigham Hospital (2)  |  Disease (257)  |  Early (39)  |  Effort (94)  |  Failure (118)  |  Institution (32)  |  Nobel Prize (26)  |  Objective (49)  |  Qualify (2)  |  Renal (4)  |  Result (250)  |  Support (63)  |  Tragic (8)  |  Treatment (88)

If you’re going to worry about what people say, you’re never going to make any progress.
— Joseph E. Murray
As quoted by Alvin Powell in 'A Transplant Makes History', Harvard Gazette (22 Sep 2011).
Science quotes on:  |  People (269)  |  Progress (317)  |  Say (126)  |  Worry (27)

It is probably no exaggeration to suppose that in order to improve such an organ as the eye at all, it must be improved in ten different ways at once. And the improbability of any complex organ being produced and brought to perfection in any such way is an improbability of the same kind and degree as that of producing a poem or a mathematical demonstration by throwing letters at random on a table.
[Expressing his reservations about Darwin's proposed evolution of the eye by natural selection.]
— Joseph E. Murray
Opening address to the Belfast Natural History Society, as given in the 'Belfast Northern Whig,' (19 Nov 1866). As cited by Charles Darwin in The Variation of Animals & Plants Under Domestication (1868), 222.
Science quotes on:  |  Bring (53)  |  Complex (78)  |  Demonstration (51)  |  Eye (159)  |  Improbability (7)  |  Improve (39)  |  Letter (36)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Organ (60)  |  Perfection (71)  |  Poem (85)  |  Produce (63)  |  Random (21)  |  Throw (31)

Kidney transplants seem so routine now. But the first one was like Lindbergh’s flight across the ocean.
— Joseph E. Murray
In interview with reporter Gina Kolata, '2 American Transplant Pioneers Win Nobel Prize in Medicine', New York Times (9 Oct 1990).
Science quotes on:  |  First (174)  |  Flight (45)  |  Kidney (13)  |  Charles A. Lindbergh (22)  |  Routine (11)  |  Transatlantic (3)  |  Transplant (8)

My interest in the biology of tissue and organ transplantation arose from my [WW II] military experience at Valley Forge General Hospital in Pennsylvania … a major plastic surgical center. While there, I spent all my available spare time on the plastic surgical wards which were jammed with hundreds of battle casualties. I enjoyed talking to the patients, helping with dressings, and observing the results of the imaginative reconstructive surgical operations.
— Joseph E. Murray
As a First Lieutenant with only a nine-month surgical internship, randomly assigned to VFGH to await overseas duty. In Tore Frängsmyr and Jan E. Lindsten (eds.), Nobel Lectures: Physiology Or Medicine: 1981-1990 (1993), 556.
Science quotes on:  |  Battle (30)  |  Biography (227)  |  Biology (150)  |  Casualty (3)  |  Experience (268)  |  Help (68)  |  Hospital (33)  |  Imaginative (6)  |  Interest (170)  |  Military (24)  |  Observe (48)  |  Operation (96)  |  Patient (116)  |  Result (250)  |  Talk (61)  |  Tissue (24)  |  Transplantation (4)

My life as a surgeon-scientist, combining humanity and science, has been fantastically rewarding. In our daily patients we witness human nature in the raw–fear, despair, courage, understanding, hope, resignation, heroism. If alert, we can detect new problems to solve, new paths to investigate.
— Joseph E. Murray
In Tore Frängsmyr and Jan E. Lindsten (eds.), Nobel Lectures: Physiology Or Medicine: 1981-1990 (1993), 565.
Science quotes on:  |  Courage (39)  |  Despair (25)  |  Detect (9)  |  Fear (113)  |  Heroism (7)  |  Hope (129)  |  Human Nature (51)  |  Humanity (104)  |  Investigate (49)  |  New (340)  |  Path (59)  |  Patient (116)  |  Problem (362)  |  Resignation (2)  |  Rewarding (2)  |  Science (1699)  |  Solve (41)  |  Surgeon (43)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Witness (18)

My only wish would be to have ten more lives to live on this planet. If that were possible, I’d spend one lifetime each in embryology, genetics, physics, astronomy and geology. The other lifetimes would be as a pianist, backwoodsman, tennis player, or writer for the National Geographic. … I’d like to keep open the option for another lifetime as a surgeon-scientist.
— Joseph E. Murray
In Tore Frängsmyr and Jan E. Lindsten (eds.), Nobel Lectures: Physiology Or Medicine: 1981-1990 (1993), 557.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Embryology (16)  |  Genetics (98)  |  Geology (187)  |  Lifetime (19)  |  National Geographic (2)  |  Physics (301)  |  Pianist (2)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Surgeon (43)  |  Tennis (6)  |  Writer (35)

One of my surgical giant friends had in his operating room a sign “If the operation is difficult, you aren’t doing it right.” What he meant was, you have to plan every operation You cannot ever be casual You have to realize that any operation is a potential fatality.
— Joseph E. Murray
From Cornelia Dean, 'A Conversation with Joseph E. Murray', New York Times (25 Sep 2001), F5.
Science quotes on:  |  Casual (6)  |  Difficult (62)  |  Error (230)  |  Fatality (3)  |  Operation (96)  |  Plan (69)  |  Potential (34)  |  Realize (43)  |  Sign (36)  |  Surgeon (43)

Our laboratory work involved close contact with many non-clinical scientists. Sir Peter Medawar, 1960 Nobel Laureate, was a frequent visitor to our lab and to the hospital. He once commented, after visiting an early renal transplant patient, that it was the first time he had been in a hospital ward.
— Joseph E. Murray
In Tore Frängsmyr and Jan E. Lindsten (eds.), Nobel Lectures: Physiology Or Medicine: 1981-1990 (1993), 556.
Science quotes on:  |  Comment (8)  |  First (174)  |  Hospital (33)  |  Laboratory (120)  |  Sir Peter B. Medawar (54)  |  Nobel Laureate (3)  |  Patient (116)  |  Renal (4)  |  Transplant (8)  |  Visitor (3)  |  Ward (4)

Service to society is the rent we pay for living on this planet.
— Joseph E. Murray
This quote is not original to Murray, who attributed it to "as someone put it" in his autobiography, Surgery of the Soul: Reflections on a Curious Career (2001, 2004), 212. An exhibit in Brigham Hospital’s library housing his Nobel Prize is framed with these words. As quoted in Associated Press obituary, for example in 'Joseph E Murray, transplant pioneer and Nobel prizewinner, dies at 93', The Guardian (27 Nov 2012).
Science quotes on:  |  Live (186)  |  Pay (30)  |  Planet (199)  |  Rent (2)  |  Service (54)  |  Society (188)

Stem cells are probably going to be extremely useful. But it isn't a given, and even if it were, I don't think the end justifies the means. I am not against stem cells, I think it's great. Blanket objection is not very reasonable to me—any effort to control scientific advances is doomed to fail. You cannot stop the human mind from working.
— Joseph E. Murray
From Cornelia Dean, 'A Conversation with Joseph E. Murray', New York Times (25 Sep 2001), F5.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (123)  |  Blanket (6)  |  Control (93)  |  Doom (9)  |  Effort (94)  |  Failure (118)  |  Human Mind (51)  |  Justification (33)  |  Means (109)  |  Objection (16)  |  Scientific (169)  |  Stem Cell (11)  |  Stop (56)  |  Usefulness (70)  |  Working (20)

The full story of successful organ transplantation in man weaves together three separate pathways: the study of renal disease, skin grafting in twins, and surgical determination. A leitmotif permeates each of these pathways, i.e. a single event or report was critical for medical progress.
— Joseph E. Murray
In Tore Frängsmyr and Jan E. Lindsten (eds.), Nobel Lectures: Physiology Or Medicine: 1981-1990 (1993), 558.
Science quotes on:  |  Critical (34)  |  Determination (53)  |  Disease (257)  |  Event (97)  |  Graft (3)  |  Medical (18)  |  Organ (60)  |  Pathway (11)  |  Progress (317)  |  Renal (4)  |  Report (31)  |  Single (72)  |  Skin (17)  |  Study (331)  |  Success (202)  |  Surgical (2)  |  Transplantation (4)  |  Twin (6)  |  Weave (9)

The slow rejection of the foreign skin grafts fascinated me. How could the host distinguish another person's skin from his own?
— Joseph E. Murray
Recalling his experience during WW II when assigned to a plastic surgery ward of an army hospital. In Tore Frängsmyr and Jan E. Lindsten (eds.), Nobel Lectures: Physiology Or Medicine: 1981-1990 (1993), 556.
Science quotes on:  |  Distinguish (32)  |  Fascinate (5)  |  Foreign (20)  |  Host (9)  |  Rejection (24)

We were trying. In spite of several failures, we felt we were getting close. It’s difficult to translate the optimism of the Brigham staff and hospital. The administration really backed us.
— Joseph E. Murray
Concerning the early years trying to solve the problem of rejection of a transplanted kidney. As quoted by Alvin Powell in 'A Transplant Makes History', Harvard Gazette (22 Sep 2011). The writer of the articles stated: “Through those dark years, he and his colleagues pressed on, inspired by the dying patients who volunteered for surgery in hopes that, even if they didn’t make it, enough could be learned that success would come one day.”
Science quotes on:  |  Administration (8)  |  Brigham Hospital (2)  |  Difficult (62)  |  Failure (118)  |  Optimism (10)  |  Try (103)

Work is a prayer. And I start off every morning dedicating it to our Creator.
— Joseph E. Murray
As quoted in Martin Childs, 'Professor Joseph Murray: Surgeon who performed the first successful kidney transplant', Independent (28 Nov 2012).
Science quotes on:  |  Creator (40)  |  Dedicate (9)  |  Morning (31)  |  Prayer (19)  |  Start (68)  |  Work (457)


See also:
  • 1 Apr - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Murray's birth.
  • Surgery of the Soul: Reflections on a Curious Career, by Joseph E. Murray. - book suggestion.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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