George Minot starts his research career.

Just before returning to Boston, in November of 1914, George Minot announced his engagement to Marian Linzee Weld.  His friends were surprised at the announcement, but not the woman.  They had no idea that George was seeing a woman, but they had all known Marian since they were children.  Marian’s grandfather was the good friend of George’s grandfather.  The two owned adjacent vacation homes in Bar Harbor, Maine.  George and Marian had spent many summer days playing together as children. She was also a distant relation to him.

George Minot returned to Boston in January of 1915.  It became clear that George was part of Dr Edsall’s plan to build a research program at MGH.  Edsall’s strategy was to take promising young physicians, send them away for a year to acquire some new research skills, and wait for them to return to MGH.  George was not the only one who followed this path.  Through this process, Dr Edsall was building a new research initiative at MGH.

Although, Dr Edsall was executing this strategy, it wasn’t original.  Medical schools throughout the country were following similar strategies.  This shift in medical schools to research based focus was a direct result of the Flexner Report and the American Medical Association’s Committee on Education.

George Minot’s research career started modestly.  He set up his laboratory in a small room at MGH that formerly housed a pig.  The room was ideal for microscopy, because it had north facing windows.  Microscopes had mirrors for illumination before artificial light sources were practical, and direct sunlight was too bright. He also was close to patients who would arrive at the hospital with various disorders.

His methods were straightforward.  He would take blood samples from patients with various diseases, and look at the blood under his microscope.  He kept detailed notes of what each blood sample looked like, and eventually could recognize many features that were invisible to other physicians.

George observed that some blood cells were fully developed and others were not.  In turn, he could recognize some diseases by the characteristic appearance of their blood cells.  Since the source of his blood samples, the patients, were in the same building, he could see how different treatments effected the visual characteristics of their blood.  He primarily focused on diet as a treatment. At the time, a number of diseases were being cured by adjusting the patient’s diet.