Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/278

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274
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
FRITZ SCHAUDINN
By Professor THOS. H. MONTGOMERY, Jr., Ph.D.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS

FROM the medical and biological world a genius has been taken. and it is not saying too much to conclude that the only man of the past half century who may be considered in any way the equal of Louis Pasteur is Fritz Schaudinn. Yet when Schaudinn died, on the twenty-second of last June, he was in only his thirty-fifth year. Truly those whom the gods love die young! The work of his life is so recent that only the perspective of time can throw it out in its true proportions; but rarely has it fallen to the lot of any man to receive the quick recognition of value that has been so generally conceded to Schaudinn.

With the exception of a few contributions on the worm Ankylostomum, on bear animalcules (Tardigrades), and on bacteria, the attention of Schaudinn was devoted entirely to the Protozoa; Dujardin, Max Schultze and Schaudinn, each of these marked a great advance in our knowledge of the unicellular animals, and of them Schaudinn covered the most difficult field. For his study of the Protozoa was an intensive examination of their complex life cycles, undertaken first to elucidate their genetic relationships and the meaning of alternation of generations, and second to break a road to the checking of human diseases. His discoveries are of fundamental importance for the understanding of the genesis of the cell, particularly of the phenomena of conjugation and the reduction of the chromosomes, for our ideas of the genetic relations of the various Protozoan groups, and for the prevention of disease. It may be said that before Schaudinn entered the field almost all human infectious diseases were supposed to be due to bacteria, with the exception of the malaria parasite and certain few agents doubtfully associated with unimportant disorders. To Schaudinn more than to any other belongs the credit of the demonstration that the Protozoa are fully as efficient as the bacteria in transmitting and engendering disease. Indeed, the greatest advance in medicine of the past twenty years may be said to be just this conclusion. Schaudinn's particular merit lies in his insistence that the first step in combating any disease must be to understand the whole life cycle of the disease germ; and his genius, in his admirable and unequaled success

[1]

  1. Contributions from the Zoological Laboratory of the University of Texas, No. 83.