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It is a great pleasure for me to be permitted to make the report for the Committee on Scientific Foundation Fund, and I wish to assure you that I am not going to bore you with a long statement of details, but will take only a few minutes to report some of the possibilities open to the dental profession.
I am sure that it is not necessary for me to remind you that a large percentage of the infections that enter the human body enter by way of the mouth, or that a great many septic conditions have their origin in the mouth: You have been listening to that during the last year through papers on oral hygiene; you are interested, however, in the larger question of our duty to humanity. The first part of the subject states clearly the need for this work; and, as I see it, the need of the hour is not that we shall approach the subject only from the standpoint of the pathologist, but that we should establish our position in line with all the great professions of the world. I am going to ask you to look with me at the march of civilization–we shall see that all down through the thousands of years that have been passing, all of the great civilizations have had in their midst these great infections that have not only swept off the total population within every twenty-five years, but sometimes nearly the entire population of a district in a single year. There have been instances where the population was wiped out so completely that not one person was “left to tell the tale” of a previously large population, and I want to show to you a picture of such a civilization as that of Sweden, where one-twenty-fifth of the population died every year of one single infectious disease. That was twenty-five years ago; today we have only one in a million dying of that same disease. And when we think how the great sources of infections so common a few years ago are one by one being stamped out and no longer curse humanity, we are thrilled with joy. But this joy is soon mixed with pain–for there yet stands the great source of infection, the largest of them all, the one that has caused the largest amount of suffering and has afflicted the largest number of people, and we have done practically nothing to emancipate humanity from it–I speak of oral and dental infections, which are the most universal and the most serious of all that afflict mankind.
Emancipation From Former Scourges.
I want you to see with me how the great emancipations from scourges have been accomplished. You only need to go into the study of any one particular disease. Let us look at the diphtheria scourge that a few years ago entered our homes and took from our families, in the United States alone, enough children every year to populate all the schools of Kansas City. These lives have been saved by the coming of the antitoxin for diphtheria. How and why did it come? Because the great medical profession realized its responsibility to humanity, and had men who were willing to go into laboratories and work for the love of humanity and the love of truth, and find a means for relieving their fellow men from this dreaded disease. When measured by the value of a few horses, the value of a few dollars put into laboratories, the value of a few hours’ time for research work, no investment can compare in returns and desirability to having had five, ten, or a hundred dollars invested in that research work. Yet, while this great work has been done and is being done, we, the dental profession, have done practically nothing.
Let us look at another example: We know that a large percentage of all babies born have been afflicted with hemorrhage of the newborn, and if you have gone into the hospitals for babies you have seen, up to a few years ago, that these babies were condemned to die. But something happened. There has come to the world a great thing, the surgery of the blood vessels, because a profession cared! It was necessary to add to the blood of these infants some blood that had the power of coagulation. One evening, just a few years ago, there happened in New York this picture: A physician, the father of a first child, was sitting by his newborn babe, whose life was slowly but surely going out as had been the case in all the past with these babies, and as the eyelids and lips were getting bluer and the child’s paroxysms getting slower in its desperate struggle for relief, this anguished father telephoned Dr. Alex Carrel, one of the men connected with the Rockefeller Institute, and asked him if he could not do something for this baby. His answer was affirmative, and he came quickly to the house of the heartbroken father and mother, put the father on the bed by the side of his baby, and with his new technique for the surgery of the blood vessels successfully united the father’s artery with the vein of the child and put some of his blood into the child’s body. Almost immediately they could see a pink flush in the face of the baby, very soon it was crying and hungry, and in a few minutes it was nursing with avidity at its mother’s breast. There was no period of convalescence; the baby that was dying but a moment before was now well, for the fatal hemorrhage had ceased. It was saved!–and all through the coming years these babies can be saved. Why? Because somebody cared enough for these babies and for the truth to place laboratories at the disposal of men, and men who cared for the truth enough to give their lives in making this research. Surely there has been no power known to history so great as this power of truth, which is revolutionizing the whole of civilization in our generation.
Look at the yellow fever scourge in Panama, in Havana, and in Mexico, where half the population at times were taken off, and the complete stamping out of that scourge, and see the spirit that made that relief possible. Scientists knew, or thought they knew, that it was the mosquito that carried the yellow fever germ, but there were four hundred varieties of mosquitoes. They thought it was carried by the female of one of these varieties, but did not know; they thought this mosquito must take the poison from a person sick with yellow fever during the first three days of that person’s sickness, and then must wait twelve days and bite a well man who would therefrom develop yellow fever. They could not experiment on animals by allowing the mosquito to bite them, because animals would not contract the disease; it was necessary that this experiment should be made on man. Men were not wanting, for Dr. Lozier and Dr. Corell of Washington came and offered to bare their arms to the mosquito. These men had even been sleepIng in the soiled clothes of men who had died from that disease, willing to get this disease even when they knew that it meant almost certain death to them. Few men have ever given service with so little realization of sacrifice and so great a sense of privilege as did these men. One of them, when he knew that he was doomed to die, wrote a letter to his wife saying that he thanked God for the opportunity that had come to him by solving the problem, and thereby to give this relief to humanity. Was it worth while? It was!
The Present Opportunity–A Good Start Made.
But that spirit of sacrifice, measured by a life, is not what we are asking of you today. We offer you the privilege of helping to support some trained men to go into laboratories and do the research work necessary to bring to humanity an emancipation from the dental scourges. The laboratories are waiting and ready for this work. I also want you to know that this great dental profession is alive to this opportunity! You can scarcely appreciate the favorable conditions without having gone from place to place as I have gone and seen the response to this opportunity. Society after society to whom this matter has been presented has, when the members have been told of this plan, supported the movement almost to a man many times; every person present volunteered to give money in support of the work. In the city of Columbus, when this project was presented before the dental society, though with only forty-two present, every person contributed, to the amount of $1200. When it was presented in Cincinnati, $2700 was subscribed and the first year’s payment entirely made; and they are enthusiastic to do more. The profession of Cleveland has subscribed $4010 toward this fund to help men to go into the laboratories and do the work, and other societies have taken up the work with enthusiasm and earnestness; and all are standing shoulder to shoulder with a solid front. A substantial start has been made toward the same result in Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee, and Texas, and Wisconsin joins this month. The reports are not complete from any of these states, and from many we have no report except the substantial subscription secured at the time the plan was presented. The total amount of these incomplete reports is $12,640; and we regret exceedingly that we could not have known how much has been secured in each city and state to date. Some of the incomplete reports are as follows: Cincinnati, $2767; Columbus, $1200; Toledo, $500; Washington, $700; Cleveland, $4010, Louisville, $500; Pennsylvania and components, $782; Iowa State University Dental Alumni, $500, with several smaller amounts. It is essential to remember that this is entirely a report of progress, for in many places the work has just started. Other states would have taken it up before this, had not conflicting engagements prevented the chairman of the committee from being present at their meetings.
Generous Tender of Laboratory Facilities.
Now I want to tell you something of the attitude of the public toward this movement. When this work became known to some of the great institutions of our country, they responded at once. One did not even wait for the committee to come, but sent for us and said we might have the use of their laboratories and they would give us every assistance. These free laboratories include privileges in the Cushing Laboratory for Pathological Research of the Western Reserve University, and the Case School of Applied Science Research Laboratory, both of Cleveland; Iowa State University Research Laboratories; Michigan State University Research Laboratories; Hygiene Department of the U. S. Department of Health of Washington; Bellevue Hospital Research Laboratory, New York; Cincinnati Hospital Research Laboratory; Parke-Davis Research Laboratory, Detroit; University of Chicago, and several other competent institutions, including more very choice facilities than we can probably use for some time.
The Proposed Plan.
When I have said to men with money, “Can you help us?” the almost invariable reply has been: “We have means for such good causes, but there are so many demands that we have to have something of an indorsement. What are your indorsements? What has the dental profession done in financial support and service for such work?” And there was nothing that I could point to that indicated that we have made the sacrifices which our professional responsibility demands of us. Your committee has undertaken to get this indorsement in two ways: We want a fund for immediate use, and that fund shall be raised from the entire dental profession–it will be a guarantee of their indorsement, and will also pay for the bread and butter of the men who are going into these laboratories.
This money from these different societies that I have spoken of is for that fund, and we are asking that the dental profession of each state shall give each year for five years an amount equal to the number of men practicing dentistry in it–that is, about $40,000 a year for five years from the United States, or $200,000 in all. On this basis, Ohio would be expected to subscribe $12,000–and already Ohio has subscribed $9000 of that $12,000. Indiana will, I am sure, do the same; Illinois and Wisconsin will doubtless do the same. And as we have gone from one society to another we have found that same response, not always as fully as in Ohio, but as sure and certain; and my appeal on behalf of the Scientific Foundation Fund is that you help us to present a solid front, thereby showing that the dental profession is united in the support of this work.
With regard to opportunities for help, I have to say that we have been negotiating with competent research workers and find that a large number of men who are very competent and whose heart is already known to be in this work can be available for the service of the National Dental Association. If we as a great profession will support this work, by some such method as the committee has outlined, backed by the National Association and supported by the state societies and their component societies down to the very last man, then all the men back of this movement will have a strong bond of sympathy between them, for the profession will be united more closely than ever before–but, best of all, it will not be a despised profession! Never in my life have I been so proud of being a dentist as I am today, because of our opportunities, and I would not be anything else if I might for the asking, because the opportunities for us are greater, to my mind, than they are for any other calling or any vocation; hence I challenge you to join in this campaign for human emancipation from dental disease.
Shall Medicine Win the Reward?
If the dental profession does not do this, the medical profession will do it, and do it soon. I was told, just this morning, of another instance wherein one of the greatest institutions of the country, a body of medical men, were to be furnished to do this work that the dental profession has not done, simply because of the insistent need of it in the practice of medicine. As sure as the medical profession does it, they will have the credit, and they will deserve the credit. If we, the dental profession, are ever to deserve that credit, it will only be when we are willing to make real sacrifice. I wonder if there is one man in this room who would not feel unworthy of this great profession if he would not give at least half a day a year to help to rescue humanity from this scourge. While I was coming over on the train, a dentist said he wanted to give fifty dollars a year, and I think we shall find a large group of men who will be willing to do the same. In Cleveland we had a number of men give fifty dollars, and in Cincinnati the same, and some even one hundred dollars. Ours is the opportunity, and we can have exactly as much research work done as we are willing to plan a foundation for, and that foundation will be the moral and financial support and endorsement of the dental profession. Do you want insignificant, unsatisfactory work, done in a haphazard way in a few laboratories? No!–we all want a magnificent organization with a central institute, or with institutes in different parts of the country, where this work can be carried on by the best men, so that the entire world will look to the dental profession for help, and will acknowledge it as having wrought the greatest single service for the emancipation of humanity from its various afflictions.
The Executive Council has asked me to give to the members of this body the opportunity to say now whether or not they would like to have a part in this work. I do not present this as a plea; but as a privilege that is yours now.
Recommendation to the Association.
We will recommend to the association that the committee of three be changed to a commission of twenty-five, with an Executive Board of five to enlarge and carry on this work, and that technicians or assistants be engaged at once to enlarge the capacity and output of some of the men who are doing, gratuitously, the best private research at present. (The opportunity was given to those present to make a voluntary contribution, and about $2500 was contributed.)
Weston A. Price, Chairman.
The general session then adjourned until Wednesday noon.