SPHTM Turns 100! The First 50 Years

April 1912 Charles Bass travels to Panama, where he develops a process to culture malaria in vitro. Bass receives accolades and widespread praise for this development. He would later become dean of the School of Medicine, but gained most recognition after his retirement when he developed the “Bass Technique of Toothbrushing,” leading him to become known as the “Father of Preventive Dentistry.”

June 1912 Creighton Wellman publishes a landmark article in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journey presenting a compelling argument for the New Orleans School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene at Tulane, including letters of support from public health leaders around the world. (Wellman’s original article appears in the special SPHTM anniversary edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology, dated Oct. 1.)

Isadore Dyer

In November 1912, Dyer, dean of the medical department, addressed a letter to Robert Sharp, president of the university. In this letter, Dyer highlights that the department of tropical medicine, hygiene and preventive medicine has been operating as a school. “We are desirous that the School of Tropical Medicine, Hygiene, and Preventive Medicine should be known as such, and it has already demonstrated its ability to live… our School of Tropical Medicine, Hygiene and Preventive Medicine should be formally authorized by the Board so that anything which emanates from this particular School may be credited with dignity to such an institution.”

1912 The School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, including Public Health begins operating as a separate school.

April 1913 The Board of the Tulane Educational Fund formally recognizes the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as such. “That since the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, including Preventive Medicine, has been, by action of the Board, constituted a distinct school in the College of Medicine, with a separate Dean, that Dr. Creighton Wellman be appointed Dean of this school.” This certainly came as no news to Wellman who had already been functioning as dean both internally and in public.

Jan 1914 Creighton Wellman’s career trajectory at Tulane takes sudden and unexpected turn when he abruptly resigns.

Also in 1914 Isadore Dyer, dean of the School of Medicine, becomes acting dean of the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

First DrPH degree granted to Herbert Maxwell Shilstone. First Diploma in Tropical medicine granted to Walton Todd Burres.

1915 William Seeman becomes dean of the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

1918 The school is officially folded back into the School of Medicine.

1928 Medical School Dean Charles Bass hires Ernest Carroll Faust as chair of the Department of Parasitology. Faust, already a distinguished scientist in parasitology, joined Tulane as chair of a new division of parasitology created just for him. In 1929, he published Human Helminthology, the first textbook on this subject in English. Faust’s interests extended to protozoa during his Tulane tenure and he made notable contributions in the diagnosis and treatment of amoebiasis.

A native of Missouri, he taught parasitology at the Peking Union Medical College for nine years and did experimental studies on parasites of humans and animals in China. When he moved back to the States to join the Tulane faculty, he brought with him an extensive collection of specimens.

Ernest Carroll Faust, author of Human Helminthology, the first textbook on parasitology.

Faust remained on faculty at Tulane for 28 years, where he was instrumental in the formation of the parasitology program, authored several textbooks on the subject, and contributed chapters to a dozen textbooks of medicine, pediatrics, and therapeutics.

When he retired from the faculty in 1956, he was appointed coordinator of the Tulane-Colombia Program in Medical Education. Although the appointment necessitated a move to Cali, Colombia, Faust remained a presence in the Department of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, as evidenced by the annual parasitology holiday letters which always brought mention of his research, travels, and activities. Even after he returned to New Orleans and officially retired, he became an emeritus professor and continued to take part in teaching, writing and editing texts, and research in the lab. He was always busy, always active, always a presence at Tulane for the rest of his life.

1931 Charles Franklin Craig hired as chair of tropical medicine. Craig spent more than 30 years as a surgeon in the military before joining Tulane as the head of the Department of Tropical Medicine. Although he retired just seven years later, he left his mark on the school as an inspiring teacher and also a prolific writer. Indeed, he joined colleague Ernest Faust in writing Craig and Faust’s Clinical Parasitology, long a go-to text for student.

1956 Paul C. Beaver becomes chair of Parasitology.

Paul C. Beaver

Paul C. Beaver

Much like Faust, Paul Beaver’s parasitology career was inextricably linked to Tulane. Beaver came to Tulane in 1945 from the Georgia Department of Public Health where he had first become interested in soil-transmitted helminths. He rose quickly through the ranks, becoming the William Vincent Professor of Tropical Diseases and Hygiene and Chair of the Department of Tropical Medicine in 1956, upon Faust’s retirement.

As chair, Beaver became known for the annual holiday missives he wrote himself. The letters detailed faculty research activities and alumni updates, cataloged current master’s and doctoral students, and also never failed to provide updates on Faust’s activities in Colombia and as emeritus professor.

Upon Beaver’s death in 1993, department faculty Rodney Jung, Dale Little, and Donald Krogstad published a tribute to Beaver in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene , which Beaver had edited for 20 years. They wrote: “This may be the most remarkable aspect of his career:  after 60 years he remained committed to the future of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology in a direct personal way. He remained a productive investigator while editing a major scientific journal for 20 years and simultaneously creating a cadre of investigators throughout the world, many of whom have since become leader in their own countries.”

Continue reading SPHTM Turns 100! The Last 50 years.

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About Tulane University SPHTM

Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is the oldest school of public health in the country and the only American school of tropical medicine. Our mission is to advance public health knowledge, promote health and well-being, and prevent disease, disability, and premature mortality. This is accomplished through academic excellence in education of public health professionals, rigorous scientific research of public health problems, creative partnerships to advance the practice of public health, and innovative service to the local, national, and international public health community.
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One Response to SPHTM Turns 100! The First 50 Years

  1. Pingback: SPHTM Turns 100! The Emerging Years (Pre-1912) | Global Health Fall/Winter 2012

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