chapter  10
22 Pages

Americans and Pavlovians: The Central Institute for Cardiovascular Research at the East German Academy of Sciences and its precursor institutions as a case study of biomedical research in a country of the Soviet Bloc (c. 1950–80)

Introduction This chapter deals with biomedical research in East Germany, a country of the Soviet Bloc during the era of the Cold War. It may help us revise some of the assumptions that have for a long time haunted our perceptions of socialist medicine in Eastern Europe, especially with a view to organisational matters and the role of epidemiology.1 In Britain, a certain degree of fascination with medicine in the Soviet Bloc amongst left-leaning political and medical elites keen on modernising the health system has a long tradition and can be traced back to the interwar period.2 Soviet medicine was seen as 'the other' of medicine under capitalism, a model case of socialist medicine where the most obvious shortcomings of health care in capitalist countries were resolved, and where medical research was reunited with health care under the banner of effective disease prevention. 3 Such expectations were fuelled, for example, by books on Soviet socialised medicine such as that by the eminent historian of medicine, Henry E. Sigerist.4 Sigerist's book (with a Foreword by Sidney Webb), and the positive picture it drew of medicine in the USSR as an exciting experiment in the purposeful rationalisation of healthcare and medical research, may have played its part, for example, in drumming up support for a National Health Service in the UK.