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Hartnell, June (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 49, Number 9 (May 1945)

Niles, Ruth Hilda
Women in medical research,   p. 10

Page 10

        A Westinghouse Talent Search Essay
 T  HE world of today is a world of science, and one of
    the most important phases of science is medical re-
 search. Right now the United States Government is send-
 ing out an urgent call for young women workers in every
 sphere of scientific activity. Several of the country's great-
 est scientists have stated that the present war will be won
 in the research laboratories of the United States. It is for
 this reason that I, a high school senior, am considering
 medical research in my proposed science project. Being
 confined by the many limits imposed by a small town
 school, I have been unable to carry on any extensive lab.
 oratory projects as are possible in a larger institution.
 Naturally this pressing need for women in science is a
 result of the war and it is our duty to do something about
 it. However, there are many more reasons for my interest
 in this line of work in addition to patriotic motives. I be-
 lieve it is one profession that is never lacking in new in-
 terest. There is never a time when one would feel that he
 had done all that could be done, discovered all that could
 be known, or reached the point where there was no longer
 any room for further advancement.
 This call is often for research workers to study and
 improve methods of destruction. Better, faster, and more
 horrible wholesale means of killing are the order of the
 day. However, in my opinion, the purpose of saving lives
 and relieving suffering is fully as vital as learning new
 ways of administering death in great doses. When there
 is more pain and more lives are being lost in the world
 now than ever before, what is as important as the advance-
 ment of life-saving and pain-relieving agencies? Won't
 we win the war just as quickly by saving our own men as
 by killing the enemy? Therefore, I say that America
 needs toilers for life as much as and more than toilers
 for death and destruction.
 There is unlimited opportunity for progress in the
 study, improvement, and communization of the newly
 discovered weapons against disease and infection.
 Let us take for an example one of the most interesting
 and beneficial of all new medical discoveries-penicillin.
 Penicillin, or technically speaking, Penicilliumnotatum,
 was discovered quite by accident by Dr. Alexander Flem-
 ing when this unknown agent ruined his culture of staphy-
 lococci at the University of London in 1929. Unfortu-
nately, its development, perfection and the great business
of making it available for all will not come by any miracle
out of the sky. It has been found that not all of the pow-
             -Ruth Hilda Niles
Miss Galina Mouromseff, bacteriologist, is shown re-
moving a rack of virus tubes in preparation for an
ultraviolet exposure.
                           -Courtesy Westinghouse
dery yellow-brown stuff from bread and cheese mold is
equally capable of killing the harmful bacteria. It will
take time and work to discover by the old trial-and-error
method how and why this is true. It is the aim of the
authorities to make penicillin available for civilian use
after the war.
  First, of course, the armed forces need all that can be
produced by the present method. The sulfa drugs have
been used by our fighting men for some time but many
people suffer unpleasant after-effects from the sulfas.
That penicillin doesn't cause any such reaction in the body
is another reason why it must be developed.
  Now we have found that one does not need to fear that
penicillin will harm him but the question is raised-what
can penicillin do? It has proved to be most efficient in
the treatment of some of the most dreaded diseases to
which the human body is subject. Pneumonia, gonorrhea,
syphilis, blood poisoning, streptococcus infection and in-
fection in open wounds all have bowed before their master,
                 (continued on page 26)

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