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In 1970 Van Rensselaer Potter was the first to use the term "bioethics" in a publication to advocate the development of a new discipline to address the basic problems of human flourishing. This article analyzes Potter's notion of bioethics in order to understand its origins, sources, and substance. In early publications, Potter conceptualized bioethics as a bridge: between present and future, nature and culture, science and values, and finally between humankind and nature. In later publications, disappointed by a predominant focus on individual and medical issues, and with a wish to underscore the need for a broader perspective, Potter introduced the new term "global bioethics," meant to transcend ethics specialties and integrate them into a new interdisciplinary endeavor to address global problems. A growing interest in global bioethics today means that Potter's original insights are more timely than ever.