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If Harvard intends to provide an undergraduate training in Biochemical Sciences as the catalogue would lead one to suppose, some genuine efforts must be made. Biochemistry is a specialized science. That it should have a place in a college curriculum as a field of concentration is perhaps doubtful. The undergraduates electing the subject are almost universally destined for a medical school where at least a half year will be spent in re-teaching them the essentials of the science.
Biochemistry is a definite line of scientific approach, however, and the utility of such training is not limited to the status of a handmaiden to medicine. That at Harvard it has become nothing more for the undergraduate is due entirely to the half-hearted support in equipment and courses the university provides to supplement the ambitions efforts of an eager tutorial staff.
The field of concentration suffers acutely from course deficiency. One half course, and that remarkably badly integrated, is but meagre fare for the growing biochemist. There should be at least one full course specifically covering the subject. Furthermore, this full course should include at least six hours of laboratory work a week to provide the biochemist with the specialized techniques he will inevitably need in later work.
Laboratory work requires a laboratory, and the present facilities both in the biology and chemistry departments are on the verge of over-crowding. Between Converse and Coolidge, however, Gibbs is, a three-story building which has been unoccupied since the death of Professor Richards, nine years ago. In it still stand the remants of his apparatus, untouched. The building is well equipped and to remodel it to suit it for biochemical work would be comparatively simple.
The laboratory deficiency might simply be remedied. The deficiency in personnel which, up to now, has prevented the establishment of a full course in the field is a different problem. There are at present several men in the university itself who could organize and teach such a course capably. In the medical school are at least two more.
With all the facilities in the palm of its hand, the university has no excuse for not offering them to the aspiring biochemists it allegedly desires to train.
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