n South African Medical Journal - The University of Cape Town taught me how to challenge beliefs : forum - reflections




The world's first successful human heart transplantation on 2 December 1967 inspired me to study medicine at the University of Cape Town's Faculty of Health Sciences. There I learned 5 key elements for a successful career in either medicine or science or both - perfectionism, passion, compassion, the dispassionate investigation of all the available evidence, and the need to challenge established beliefs for which the scientific evidence appears imperfect. Challenging such beliefs enabled us to prove that hyponatraemic encephalopathy was caused by persistent and heroic over-drinking during prolonged exercise, usually lasting more than 4 hours, and was unrelated to salt losses in sweat and urine; to understand that the brain not the muscles must regulate the exercise performance, and thus develop the Central Governor Model of Exercise; and to reconsider the dietary causes of the obesity and diabetic epidemic.


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