The New England Journal of Medicine Releases Documentary Film, Getting Better: 200 Years of Medicine

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) announces the release of a documentary film, now available on the NEJM 200th Anniversary website, in celebration of 200 years of continuous publication. Getting Better is a three-part, 45-minute documentary that explores the evolution of knowledge in medicine and some of the remarkable advances reported in NEJM, including the use of anesthesia in surgery, successful cancer therapies, and treatments for HIV/AIDS.

Getting Better: 200 Years of Medicine is a documentary film from the New England Journal of Medicine ...

Getting Better: 200 Years of Medicine is a documentary film from the New England Journal of Medicine (Photo: Business Wire)

“We’ve made so many advances in the field of medicine over the last 200 years, and people’s lives have greatly improved as a result,” says Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. “As a journal, the New England Journal of Medicine has played a role as an observer and an informer, and this film is a reflection of what we’ve seen. As patients, we have all benefited.”

NEJM was founded in 1812 when surgery was unsanitary and performed without anesthesia, cancer went undiagnosed, and there was no understanding of infectious disease.

The first part of the film, “From Rough to Refined: The Rise of Surgery,” takes the viewer from the first public demonstration of ether anesthesia in 1846 to a modern-day operating room, where Dr. Atul Gawande performs a thyroidectomy. A segment on leukemia, “Targeting Cancer: The Story of Leukemia,” covers Dr. Sidney Farber’s first successes in the treatment of early childhood leukemia in 1948 through the development of the first targeted therapy in 2001, the beginning of personalized medicine. In “The Plague of our Time: HIV/AIDS Epidemic,” Drs. Tony Fauci and Paul Farmer recall the first cases of HIV/AIDS, how doctors came to understand and treat the disease, and how the epidemic has been part of a revolution in access to care and knowledge.

Each segment of the film traces the connection between research discoveries and current practice, telling the story through the voices of prominent experts, practicing clinicians, patients, and advocates. The documentary illustrates the importance of medical research in shaping clinical practice and patient care; and, how technological advances have changed the speed and trajectory of information sharing, transforming knowledge into action.

A Nancy Porter Production, the film was written and directed by Nancy Porter, an Emmy award-winning filmmaker who has made numerous documentaries for PBS including several for NOVA and American Experience, and produced by Kathryn Dietz, who has produced films for Frontline and American Experience.

About The New England Journal of Medicine

The New England Journal of Medicine ( is the world’s leading medical journal and website. In 2012, NEJM celebrates 200 years of advancing medical science, practice and patient care. Each week, NEJM publishes peer-reviewed research and clinical content for physicians, educators and the global medical community. The New England Journal of Medicine is owned and published by the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:


NEJM Media Relations
Karen Buckley or Jen Zeis, 781-434-7847
[email protected]

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Massachusetts

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Entertainment  Surgery  Practice Management  Health  Film & Motion Pictures  Hospitals  Infectious Diseases  Oncology  Pharmaceutical  Communications  Research  Publishing  Science  General Health


Getting Better: 200 Years of Medicine is a documentary film from the New England Journal of Medicine (Photo: Business Wire)

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