Editor’s Preamble to the Profile of Joseph Goldstein and Michael Brown
A friend is one soul that lives in two bodies
— Aristotle (384-322 BC)
“He who finds a friend finds a treasure.” This adage is undoubtedly one of the absolute truisms of life, which is why it appears in so many cultures and languages throughout history, dating back to the Greek playwright Menander (c. 342-291 BC) and the Roman playwright Plautus (c. 254-184 BC). The lifelong friendship between Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein is a beautiful illustration of the veracity of this adage. As they tell us in this interview,1 not only their personal lives but also their scientific work have been enormously enriched by their friendship. So deep is their bond that it is practically impossible to separate one from the other, personally and scientifically (and so, we had no choice but to set up a joint interview). This reminds me of the famous answer that Aristotle (384-322 BC) gave when asked the question, “What is a friend?” “One soul that lives in two bodies,” he said.
Among many other lessons, this profile of Brown and Goldstein should make us reflect on the incalculable dividends that can accrue from a true friendship. On a personal level, friendship is one of the greatest consolations that we have in this world. It illuminates and warms our life. It transforms everything. As Francis Bacon (1561–1626) put it, “Friendship doubles joys and halves grief.” The great minds of classical antiquity felt even more strongly. For example, Cicero (106–43 BC) went as far as stating that “without friendship, life is nothing,” echoing Aristotle’s earlier assertion that “without friends, no one would choose to live, even if he had everything else.”
In today’s increasingly impersonal society, the need for friendship is acute, perhaps even more so than in the past. And certainly, this is the case in science. The world of biomedical research is a highly competitive ecosystem, replete with unbridled selfishness and populated by morbidly hypertrophic egos. In this difficult environment, friendship offers a much-needed respite that helps us find the fortitude necessary to deal equanimously with the many strange personalities that we encounter in our daily work. Unfortunately, partnerships such as the one between Brown and Goldstein are exceedingly rare in science, and is it not possible—as the two Nobel laureates point out below—to teach young investigators to develop this type of relationship. It must arise spontaneously from the right chemistry. Lucky are those who find it!
This Editor’s Preamble was originally published as part of the interview with Joseph Goldstein and Michael Brown for the Circulation Research series Profiles in Cardiovascular Science. The original article is available online at http://circres.ahajournals.org/content/106/6/1006.full
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.