When to Act and When to Refrain

Marvin J. Stone, MD, MACP, FRCP

Publisher: Archway Publishing Pages: 326 Price: (hardcover) $29.99 ISBN: 9781665744850 Reviewed: April, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

The letters behind his name—Master American College of Physicians, Fellow Royal College of Physician— barely scratch the surface of Dr. Marvin J. Stone’s illustrious medical career. As he recalls his decades of medical practice, teaching and research, he prefaces this engaging memoir with the hope that readers will be inspired by the successes of the past and the possibilities of the future of medicine.

From his early days receiving a medical degree with honors from the University of Chicago, to training at Barnes Hospital and the National Institutes of Health, then leading the Baylor Sammons Cancer Center and serving as chief of oncology—Stone recounts his progression through dizzying advances in hematology-oncology, including genetics and immunology. Although his underlying theme is “when to act and when to refrain” he exemplifies more “acting” than “refraining,” except in a few instances when abstaining from a course of treatment was beneficial.

Stone offers anecdotes from his career, such as when visiting orphanages in Romania as part of a Baylor medical mission, where he observed children dying from blood-transmitted HIV infections. As a result, the mission highly recommended that the Romanian medical establishment test blood products.

He also recalls a staff physician who recounted making rounds years ago with an intern and two attending doctors who all eventually won Nobel Prizes—probably the only time a resident made clinical rounds with three future Nobel Prize winners!

Replete with other anecdotes related to renowned professors and researchers, the author frequently names beloved mentors and collaborators and their contributions to medicine and bioethics. Patient histories, photos and letters are also included, as are references and reading suggestions.

Stone writes in a straightforward manner, without artistic flair, but his respect for his mentors, colleagues and patients shines through with humility and good humor. His autobiography will be of interest to those entering or considering careers in medicine (particularly in oncology/hematology)—but especially to Stone’s many colleagues and mentors.

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