Watch the NEJM Documentary, Getting Better

Posted by Karen Buckley • May 2nd, 2012

In our continuing celebration of 200 years of NEJM, a new documentary is now available on the 200th anniversary website. Getting Better: 200 Years of Medicine is a three-part, 45-minute film that explores three remarkable stories of medical progress that have taken place over the course of the long history of NEJM.

When NEJM was founded in 1812, medical knowledge was limited. We had no understanding of infectious disease. Surgery was unsanitary and performed without anesthesia. Cancer was unrecognized, in part because so few people lived long enough to develop it.


The first part of the film, “From Rough to Refined: The Rise of Surgery,” takes the viewer from the first public demonstration of ether anesthesia in 1846 to a modern-day operating room, where Dr. Atul Gawande performs a thyroidectomy.

A segment on leukemia, “Targeting Cancer: The Story of Leukemia,” covers Dr. Sidney Farber’s first successes in the treatment of early childhood leukemia in 1948 through the development of the first targeted therapy in 2001, the beginning of personalized medicine.

In “The Plague of our Time: HIV/AIDS Epidemic,” Drs. Tony Fauci and Paul Farmer recall the first cases of HIV/AIDS, how doctors came to understand and treat the disease, and how the epidemic has been part of a revolution in access to care and knowledge.

The film looks at the role of researchers and clinicians, of patients, their families and their advocates, and how information is translated into action.

View the film in its entirety, or in segments, now on our anniversary web site.

One Response to “Watch the NEJM Documentary, Getting Better”

  1. Dale Lorey says:

    This is what I’m talkin about! Nice job.

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