Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/507

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503
RESEARCH IN MEDICINE

RESEARCH IN MEDICINE[1]
By Professor RICHARD M. PEARCE

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

I. Antiquity to 1800; The Efforts of Isolated Investigators

THE phrase "Research in Medicine" will naturally arouse different thoughts and associations in the minds of different groups of men.

The bacteriologist will be reminded of Pasteur, Koch, Behring and Flexner and the triumphs of bacteriology and serum-therapy; the surgeon, of Lister and antisepsis, of anesthesia, and of the X-ray; the physician of new means of cure and of diagnosis, of specific sera and vaccines, of the electrocardiograph, the polygraph and other complicated instruments of precision; and the average layman of a confused and confusing welter of catchwords and slogans for popular agitations vaguely associated with antitoxins, mosquitoes, good water supply, sewage disposal, lowered infant mortality and the modern treatment of tuberculosis. But in the last analysis the impressions of all would be of progress in a period representing a little more than half of the past century. This period is indeed the golden age of medical progress and one to which the historian or philosopher must give his best attention if he is to interpret, properly, the impulses which actuate medical research at the present time. That the earlier history of medicine is overshadowed by the rapid progress of modern discovery as represented in bacteriology is in the nature of things. But it should not, for that reason, be forgotten that the art of medicine existed before this period and with it much science. The pathologist, on second thought, reminds us of Morgagni and Rokitansky and the beginnings of pathological anatomy; the physiologist recalls Harvey and Haller; the surgeon mentions Ambroise Paré; the anatomist, after recalling many worthies, takes us back to Vesalius, to Galen and finally leaves us as does the internist, with Hippocrates, 400 years before Christ.

With this stretch of time and with these widely varying aspects of endeavor one must deal in attempting to present the story of research in medicine. It would be comparatively simple to chronicle the advance in any one field, as, for example, surgery, pathology or therapy; but this would, I fear, be less interesting and certainly not enlighten-

  1. These lectures were given as the annual Hitchcock lectures at the University of California. The foundation was created by Mr. Charles M. Hitchcock, who bequeathed to the University of California an endowment, the income of which was to be devoted to "free lectures upon scientific and practical subjects, but not for the advantage of any religious sect nor upon political subjects."