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19th World Congress on Heart Disease



Robert W.W. Biederman, M.D. , Carnegie Mellon University, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA, USA


Serendipity means a "fortuitous happenstance" or "pleasant surprise". It was first coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to a friend Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of”. The notion of serendipity is a common occurrence throughout the history of scientific and medical innovation such as Alexander Fleming's accidental discovery of penicillin in 1928. One example of luck in science is when drugs under investigation become known for different, unexpected uses. This was the case for minoxidil, sildenafil and many other medications. Less obvious is the use of microwave technology that has found its way into medicinal practice. Discussion of these and other fascinating examples that interestingly, potentially undermine the role of the randomized clinical trial will ensue.




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