Dr. Theobald Smith S.D. (Hon.) '10, formerly Professor of Comparative Pathology at the Harvard Medical School, has been awarded by the Harvard Corporation the Flattery Medal and $500 in gold. Dr. Smith is now Director of the Department of Criminal Pathology at the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research. This is the first award of a medal given by M. Douglas Flattery, Law '01-02, of Boston, "to promote the scientific study at the Harvard Medical School of the causes, the cure and the prevention of disease." The medal will be awarded annually.
Five men made up the committee representing the Corporation in the award, as follows: Dr. H. P. Walcott '58, chairman; Dr. M. J. Rosenau, Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Medical School; Dr. L. J. Henderson, Professor of Biological Chemistry; Dr. F. C. Shattuck, Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine, Emeritus; Dr. Reid Hunt, Professor of Pharmacology.
Dr. Theobald Smith was the first one to prove that an infectious disease can be transmitted by an insect. After working with Texas fever, a disease of cattle resembling malaria, he demonstrated that this infection is transmitted from one animal to the next by means of a tick. This discovery, made in 1893, opened up the entire field of insect-borne diseases and soon afterwards Ross discovered that human malaria is transmitted by the mosquito, and Reed, Carrol, and the Army Medical Commission demonstrated that yellow fever is transmitted also by a mosquito. Since then it has been shown that plaque is transmitted by fleas, typhus fever by lice, and relapsing fever by bedbugs, and the bites of many other insects have been shown to be dangerous. Dr. Smith has also conducted exhaustive researches on tuberculosis, was the first to recognize that there were distinct differences between the bovine and human tubercle bacilli, and contributed to our knowledge of hog cholera, anaphylaxis, contagious abortion of cattle and streptococcic sore throat. He discovered several new parasites of the lower animals, one of them the micro-organism of blackhead in turkeys, a disease of large economic importance. This discovery will help reduce the cost of Thanksgiving dinners. He has devised many laboratory procedures; one of these, the fermentation tube, is universally used by bacteriologists for the study of gas formation by bacteria.
In addition to his scientific investigations, Dr. Smith established, and for many years directed the antitoxin and vaccine laboratory of the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health.