At his first public demonstration of newly discovered x-rays, the evening of January 23, 1896, Wilhelm Conrad Röentgen (1845-1923) astounded scientists who filled the room. Professor of Physics and Rector of University of Würzburg, Germany, Röentgen completed his demonstration by taking an x-ray photograph of the hand of famed Professor of Anatomy, Albert von Kölliker. This led to discussion of possible medical applications. The news traveled fast, and within a year, x-ray equipment was being employed by medical men around the world as a diagnostic tool. Later research revealed many theraputic and industrial applications, as well as the hidden dangers, of x-rays.
Methods of controlling and preventing yellow fever resulted from investigations conducted in 1900 at Camp Lazear, Cuba, by a United States Army commission led by Major Walter Reed (1851-1902). This research proved conclusively that mosquitos carry the yellow fever virus from person to person. First volunteer patient to be infected by mosquito bites was Private John Kissinger. Examining physicians were Major W. C. Gorgas, Havana sanitation officer; Dr. Aristides Agramonte, pathologist; Dr. Carlos J. Finlay, chairman of the cooperating Cuban Yellow Fever Commission and first man to point out the positive infective role of mosquitos; Dr. James Carroll, bacteriologist; and Dr. Reed, commission chairman.
While a first-year student at Harvard Medical School, Boston, in 1896, Walter B. Cannon (1871-1945) employed newly discovered x-rays to study the activities of digestive organs in animals. Cannon induced cats to eat radiopaque meals, and followed food through alimentary organs with the aid of a fluroscopic screen. Basic studies of digestion, and of effects of emotions on it, led to new understandings of food utilization, of transmission of nerve impulses, and of actions of endocrine glands. Second Professor of Physiology at Harvard, Dr. Cannon earned world-wide respect as a researcher, as a teacher, and also as an ambassador of scientific good will.
In a crowded laboratory at Frankfurt's Institute of Experimental Therapy, German research scientist Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915) habitually scrawled work orders to associates with stubby colored pencils on "blocks" of note paper. Dr. Ehrlich and his Japanese assistant, Dr. Sahachiro Hata, announced Salvarsan (606) to the world in 1910 as a "chemical bullet" for treatment of syphilis. Dr. Ehrlich's success with chemical synthesis gave impetus to a new medical science, chemotherapy. Though his greatest achievements were in this field, Dr. Ehrlich contributed to many branches of medicine and shared in a 1908 Nobel Prize for his work on immunology.
Boyhood teachers were positive that no good would come from backward, headstrong Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934), but the country surgeon's son was destined to become Spain's leading medical scientist and a world-renowned neuroanatomist. His contributions to neurology and to psychiatry began in a crowded laboratory in Barcelona. For 40 years, Ramón y Cajal combined insatiable scientific curiosity, inventiveness that resulted in new stains for sections under his microscope, intensive observation, and inborn artistic ability, to reveal a wealth of new anatomical and functional facts about the nervous system, and about disorders affecting it. He received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1906.
Surgery on highly sensitive tissues of the brain was seldom attempted, even after anesthesia and sepsis became standard operating room procedures. Not until the early 1900's was the tremendous risk of life reduced by research and delicate surgical techniques, many of them developed and taught by Ohio-born Dr. Harvey W. Cushing, at Johns Hopkins, at Harvard and at Yale. Dr. Cushing removed 2,000 brain tumors; developed a "school" of students from many lands who put up with his pungent personality in order to learn his methods. Adolph Watzka, surgical orderly, for many years was his constant operating room companion.
When Dr. Joseph Goldberger, Surgeon, United States Public Health Service, and his assistant, Dr. C. H. Waring, begam studies of pellagra at the Baptist Orphanage near Jackson, Mississippi, in 1914, they faced puzzling questions: why were adults, older children, and the very young, free of the disease? Why, every year, did it strike children aged three to twelve? Dr. Goldberger ruled out infection or toxic foods as causes. With cooperation of Director J.R. Carter and House Mother "Miss Ida," the doctors added fresh meat, eggs, and milk to diets. Pellagra disappeared. By bold experiments, Dr. Goldberger proved dietary deficiency the cause of pellagra; pointed other researchers toward discovery of essential nutrients, now called vitamins, required to maintain health.
During the summer of 1921, Charles H. Best, youthful biologist, and Dr. Frederick G. Banting experiemented in laboratories loanded by Professor J.J.R. Macleod of the Physiology Department, University of Toronto. The inexperienced Canadian investigators found what trained research men before them had missed -- an extract of the pancreas the controlled the high blood sugar of diabetes mellitus. Proved and reproved on laboratory animals, their extract was tried on a human diabetic in February, 1922. Best developed mass production methods while studying for a medical degree. Banting and Best's discovery of insulin gave hope of life to millions of diabetics who otherwise would have been doomed.
When Dr. Alexander Fleming, British bacteriologist who had discovered penicillin in 1928, heard in 1940 that Drs. Florey, Chain, and their "team" had isolated the antibiotic and had found it successful when tested on mice for efficary and toxicity, at Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Oxford, he decided to visit them and see their work. The three men shared a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945. Cooperation of British and United States scientists, governments, and institutions developed mass production methods for penicillin; met wartime needs; launched new research. Antibiotics brough about a revolution in the practice of medicine. In the laboratory are: Drs. Fleming, Howard W. Florey, Ernst B. Chain, A.G. Sanders, E.P. Abraham, and Norman G. Heatley.
Medicine is ancient, yet ever new. The scientific discoveries and advances resulting from work of countless thousands of dedicated medical men throughout fifty centuries are at the command of today's physician, and through him, brought to focus upon the needs of sick patients. Never before in the world's history have people had the medical advantages available today. Physicians, research scientists, specialists in production and distribution, are all collaborating in a constant effort to improve medical service and to make available better diagnoses, better treatment, and better medicines for a better world.
Two nearly identical daguerreotypes are pictured one on top of the other. They both portray an eagle perched on a tree’s branch. The artist’s signature is typed in red lettering and arched upwards on the bottom center.