"The Great Influenza" I: The US Was Not Always a Leader in Medical ResearchI have finished reading The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, by John M. Barry and have selected a few passages (and speech Barry refers to see tomorrow's post) that offer historical perspective and useful insights concerning advances in US medical education, healthcare practice, and protection of public health.
The first excerpt relates to the utter absence of medical research in the US as recently as the early 1870s:
Many American physicians were in fact enthralled by the laboratory advances being made in Europe. But they had to go to Europe to learn them. Upon their return they could do little or nothing with their knowledge. Not a single institution in the United States supported any medical research whatsoever.
As one American who had studied in Europe wrote, “I was often asked in Germany how it is that no scientific work in medicine is done in this country, how it is that many good men who do well in Germany and show evident talent there are never heard of and never do any good work when they come back here. The answer is that there is no opportunity for, no appreciation of, no demand for that kind of work here. … The condition of medical education here is simply horrible.” [p. 33]