Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/224

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

call university experts to their aid in the solution of problems of administrative policy and public weal. Not infrequently, as in the case of Harvard University and the Massachusetts State Department of Health and that of New York City and New York University, the university shares with the state or city the service of expert investigators in the preparation of curative sera and the study of new methods of combating disease. In some states the university laboratories of hygiene, bacteriology or pathology are the research laboratories of the state. The problems of agriculture, of animal industry and veterinary medicine are, in the states of the middle west, largely under the control of university laboratories. It is not my desire to discuss in its general application the question of the part of the university in social service but that the mid-western state universities have solved this question in the matter of animal and plant disease and in agricultural and certain industrial problems is evident from the occasional references to the university as "the people's organized instrument of research" or "the scientific adviser of the state." This idea of social service must, and already does, to some extent, include the study of diseases of man. To what extent the latter shall develop in state universities depends upon the liberality of the state, or, as in non-state universities, upon endowment by individuals. This matter of endowment is the crux of the research problem in its connection with the university. It is no longer possible for a medical school to be supported by the fees of its students. In the old days of the proprietary school, when instruction was almost entirely didactic, and the only laboratory work was the dissecting room, with perhaps a room for workers in inorganic chemistry and the simple procedures of so-called medical chemistry, fees sufficed and the faculty could pocket a good dividend. The increased cost of laboratory instruction in its many phases, the increase of equipment, of assistants and attendants, have made this impossible and have forced the medical schools to the shelter of universities which have resources sufficient to support medicine. But even with this aid, few schools have sufficient funds to satisfy the demands of adequate instruction and leave a balance for investigation. The result has been that universities seek special endowment for specific lines of investigation and it is unquestionably along such special lines that an increase in the facilities for research is to be expected.

A consideration of the special departments of research now existing, of the factors determining their establishment, and of the influence such departments have exerted may be worth while. It has been said by some authority on university affairs, that "the best way to get endowment is to deserve it"; and this is the principle which actuates a not inconsiderable body of men scattered over this country who by their efforts are attempting to bring forcibly before the public and