ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

What About the Mozarts of Science?

A decade ago, Bernadine Healy, then director of the National Institutes of Health, spoke of the "need to discover the new medical Mozarts among the many Salieris in biomedicine."1 For Healy, the popular play and movie Amadeus, which depicted the rivalry between Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Mozart, makes an important statement about talent. Salieri, Healy recalled, was talented in a "workmanlike sort of way. He could compose and get the job done with competence. By contrast, Mozart was a mercuri

Walter Brown
A decade ago, Bernadine Healy, then director of the National Institutes of Health, spoke of the "need to discover the new medical Mozarts among the many Salieris in biomedicine."1 For Healy, the popular play and movie Amadeus, which depicted the rivalry between Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Mozart, makes an important statement about talent.

Salieri, Healy recalled, was talented in a "workmanlike sort of way. He could compose and get the job done with competence. By contrast, Mozart was a mercurial, brilliant, difficult genius. The music he composed was not merely competent; it was sublime." The contrast between Mozart and Salieri raised a question for Healy about policy: "Can science and medicine flourish ... if we cultivate only the Salieris?" Her answer, of course, was no: "The talent base we need requires more Mozarts. Energetic, talented and irreverent youth must be encouraged .... The cost of finding, educating, and...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?
ADVERTISEMENT