DEAN OF AMERICAN MEDICINE

A WORLD-WIDE CELEBRATION, WITH PRESIDENT HOOVER HEADING THIS NATION'S OBSERVATIONS, WILL BE HELD ON APRIL 8 TO MARK THE EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY OF DR. WILLIAM H. WELCH, OF JOHNS HOPKINS, FOR FIFTY YEARS THE CHIEF INSPIRATION OF AMERICAN MEDICAL EDUCATION.

The idea that contagious diseases are caused by invisible animals and plants which attack men from the food they eat and the air they breathe was regarded, only fifty-five years ago, as the stupid theorizings of philosophers and laughed at by all respectable scientists.* When medicine was at this low ebb, Dr. William H. Welch, known to doctors as "the dean of American medicine," was graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He was forced to study abroad because an adequate medical training could not be secured in the United States. But since then, largely through the influence of the Johns Hopkins Medical School, with Dr. Welch as dean, and the power of innumerable foundations on which Dr. Welch has served, American education has risen to equality with that of all other countries except, perhaps, Germany. And so American doctors were enabled to play their part in the international battle with germs that was soon to come.

And now, when Dr. Welch is celebrating his eightieth birthday, with the President of the United States heading the committee to do him honor, the war on germs has been so completely won that the young minds of American medicine are turning to other battlefields where the armies of man still flee before unfathomed diseases that appear like specters out of the night of man's ignorance and against whom there is no appeal. Aiming no longer to destroy exterior plagues, the medical generals of today are mobilizing against ills caused by the treachery of the body itself.

His birthday, a week from this Tuesday, will be the occasion of an international celebration. Most of America's distinguished scientists win go to Washington, where the main celebration will be held, with Presi

____________________
*
An earlier version of this essay appeared in the New York Herald Tribune on March 30, 1930.

-40-

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