Principles – Introduction

Ashley Davidoff MD The Common Vein copyright  2017

The Common Vein is about the principles that govern our biological world.  While “common” refers to the common tenets that govern biology and medicine, “vein” refers to the links that connect and keep units together and viable.

The introductory module is  in keeping with the step wise approach to learning.  Each of the categories discussed below are described in a few sentences which progress in complexity as the project unfolds.  Thus the intent of the first group of introductory chapters, is to paint a broad picture so as to give us a starting point for the learning, and to give context to the detail to come.

There is a firm belief that underlying complexity there is simplicity.  In order to understand the complexity, one should start out with the single and simple, and progressively, in step wise fashion build to complexity.


the common vein, units to unity, letters, words, painting, brush strokes, atoms, molecules, macro-molecules, organelles, nucleus, cells, tissues, organs, body, earth, planets
Units in Our World.  Our units include numbers, letters, musical notes, brush strokes, atoms, molecules, macro-molecules, organelles, cells tissues, bodies, planets, suns, stars, universe.   Copyright 2017
In the world of language the single and the simple is the letter, while in the world of music and painting it is the note, and the brushstroke respectively.  The letter moves on to the word, the note to the bar, and the brush stroke to an object in the painting.  The Mozarts, van Goghs, Einsteins and Shakespeares of the world, organized connected and integrated the units in such a way so as to create a genius result – certainly one that is more powerful than the individual parts.

units, thecommon vein, notes, letters, words, music, equations

 In biology the cell is the basis of the organ and organism.  Years of evolution have slowly crafted the human body into a miraculous machine which we have the good fortune to own,  and honor.  In the medical world we also have the opportunity to study it, and to unravel and understand its mysteries.

The biological unit is considered to be a relatively independant unit that is connected to other biological units that together form a larger unit..  The cell forms a tissue, the organs form the systems and and the systems the body.  The couple, family, and community are also considered biological units in the comtext of the common vein project.

Structure Function Disease Diagnosis Treatment

Structure and function work hand in hand.  The order of one is dependant on the order of the other and similalrly when there is disorder of one there is inevitably disorder of the other.  In the study of structure and function we tend to separate the two in an attempt to understand each of them, but of course in biology they are inextricably linked and dependant on one another.  Within the realm of the biological units, common structural features and functional features exist,whether we are observing the cell , the tissue, the organ, the body or the larger communities.

Links Connections

The interdependace of biological units requires them to be connected.  The blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatics are used as conduits between structures while connective tissue, ligaments, mesenteries and cement matrix bond and link the tissues.

Units to Unity

Units to unity is a fundamental concept throughout  TCV.  The combination of units to form a new unit that is bigger and more powerful than the individual parts is seen at every level of our lives. It is also seen in the non biological aspects.  In  chemistry the single atom is the beginning, and progresses to the element and then to the molecule,  while in biology it is most practical to start out with the cell (though we could start smaller) and progress through the tissues to the organ.  While the bigger unit is more powerful than the individual parts, the bigger unit is only as strong as its individual parts, and continued respect of the role the smaller units play is all imporant.


Although liver cells for example are given characteristic features, each liver cell is absolutely unique.  For one thing, no two structures can occupy the same space and as such, are therefore completely different.  In addition, as each cell is studied in depth, morphological uniqueness will be appreciated in the same way that each human being is recognized as unique.

Dependance and Independance

This module is totally dedicated to the inaugral speech of John F Kennedy’s where he emphasised the importance of individual uniqueness and liberty but also the importance of interdependance of people and of nations.


The universal element of time applies through all aspects of biology, whether one is talking about the lifespan of the a red cell or whether one is talking about the growth and development of the embryo to adulthood.  Time and cycles are inextricably linked to biology.


Space is a second element that is inextricably linked to biology.  All biological units need space to live and to breathe and to work in.  Encroachment on anothers space is a physical and moral transgression.


In addition to space and time, there are other forces in our environment that cause the environment to continually change.  There are some forces like gravity that are always present on earth and do not change while others like temperature, and humidity are in continual flux.  These forces which also include chemical , radiational , and mechanical forces create an ongoing  minute to minute challenge for the organism.


Biological units interact with the forces of the environment resulting in a change.  The xhange may lead to more order or more disorder.

States of Being

There are states of order and states of disorder.  In the extreme we have life and death, and in between our lives exist between states of relative order and states of relative disorder.

Health and Disease

In general the states of order are called health and the states of disorder are called disease.

The Field of Medicine

The field of medicine focuses on the states of order and disorder.  The basic elements that allow the physician to accomplish part of the mission is the understanding of structure, function and disease, and to responsibly and wisely diagnose and treat disorder.

the common vein, units to unity, history, body, anatomy, cells, parts

The Physician – Understanding How Structure Function Disease Diagnosis and Treatment Fit Together

Anatomia Carpi. Isagoge breves perlucide ac uberime, in Anatomiam humani corporis… Bologna, 1535. Woodcut. National Library of Medicine. Jacopo Berengario da Carpi (ca.1460-ca.1530) [anatomist] Berengario, an Italian surgeon and physician, refashioned the 14th-century anatomical treatise of Mondino de’Liuzzi for print publication. The illustrations give little anatomical detail, but visually represent the sense of wonder that attends the opening of the body. (need permission)

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Medicine – Research teaching and Clinical Care

85331p.800 people white coats medicine laboratory group discussion conversation education clinical management white coats students scholars teacher physician student relationship Courtesy Edward Smith MD

The goal of this work is to provide a path for the medical student who comes to us on the first day of his/her education and says – :”I know nothing and I want to grow into a compassionate, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and wise physician.”