In the first half of the twentieth century, reformers attempted to use the knowledge and practices of the laboratory sciences to radically transform medicine. Change was to be effected through medicine's major institutions; hospitals were to be turned into businesses and united to university-based medical schools. American ideas and money were major movers of these reforms. The Rockefeller Foundation supported these changes worldwide. reform, however, was not always welcomed. In Britain many old hospitals and medical schools stood by their educational and healing traditions. Further, American ideals were often seen as part of a larger transatlantic threat to British ways of life. In Edinburgh, targeted by reformers as an important center for training doctors for the empire, reform was resisted on the grounds that the city had sound methods of education and patient care matured over time. This resistance was part of an anxiety about a wholesale invasion by American culture that was seen to be destroying Edinburgh's cherished values and traditions. These latter in turn were seen to stem from a distinct Scottish way of life. This book examines this culture clash through attempts to introduce the laboratory sciences, particularly biochemistry, into the Edinburgh medical world of the 1920s.
Christopher Lawrence is Professor of the History of Medicine at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.