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Human culture has preserved its most important events as stories, originally by oral retelling, and today in diverse media formats. Innovators and explorers are featured as heroes; and their stories, as the most precious of all. Today we live in an era where there is so much information, so many stories, that it is difficult to separate the important from the noise. For many reasons, the traditional time spent in the lab for recounting the history of discovery, and understanding what really happened beyond the scientific manuscripts, has been relegated to the back burner. Time once spent on teaching and storytelling in the laboratory is all too often cancelled or ignored, replaced instead by tasks including grant writing, and fast-paced experimentation focused on early dissemination of results. Untold, the real stories of innovation at the heart of the scientific culture run a risk of being lost forever from the permanent record.

To document the history of discovery, Molecular Medicine has established the Anthony Cerami Award in Translational Medicine. The award honors investigators who have created the fundamental innovation necessary for molecular medicine to advance into clinical practice. It recognizes leading edge discoveries that have led to improvement of human health and have opened the door to new therapeutic advances and understanding.

Recipients are investigators who provided the crucial early insight and ideas that are the essence of discovery, creating new fields and research trajectories followed by persistent clinical investigation that ultimately changes how disease is prevented, diagnosed and treated. The award celebrates and commemorates the unique attributes of insight, genius and resolve that are at the heart of the discovery process. Recipients are invited to publish a monograph of their work that inspired or produced the clinical product(s). The monograph represents a unique opportunity to capture the inspirations, insights, surprises and conceptual advances that are woven into the history of discovery and form the framework for scientific culture.

The inaugural Cerami Award Monograph, by Carl Nathan, MD, Chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College is entitled, “Promise, Purpose, Privilege: A Journey in Science.” As you will see, it is a rich source of insight and inspiration. It provides a glimpse into a journey that will undoubtedly inspire generations of researchers.

It is our vision that these Cerami Award Monographs will preserve these stories for generations of future beneficiaries and scientific leaders.

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Correspondence to Kevin J. Tracey.

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Tracey, K.J. Editorial. Mol Med 19, 304 (2013).

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