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The Regional Medical Programs (RMP) were conceived as a "Great Society" project of the Lyndon Johnson administration. Their goal was simple: bring high-quality medical care to the American people by linking health research with community health needs on the regional level. The founding legislation directed that centers of excellence be created, encompassing medical schools, research institutions, and the best hospitals. Cooperative arrangements, continuing education, and referrals were to ensure the most appropriate delivery of care, as well as the best application of resources.
Lyndon Johnson initiated the programs with the bipartisan support of Congress. The President's Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke, chaired by Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, produced the blueprint. The Commission's report, "A National Program to Conquer Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke," published in December 1964, became the basis of the organizing legislation of October 1965. Operational by 1966, and with peak funding in 1973, the RMP disintegrated due to federal cuts to health care, starting in 1974. By 1976, independent RMP operations had ceased.
On December 6, 1991, the National Library of Medicine sponsored and hosted a conference, "Regional Medical Programs: Legislation & Activities in the U.S. (1965-1976)." In preparing for this conference, NLM assembled print and photographic materials and conducted videotaped interviews with twenty-four individuals key to development of the RMP. Later the Library gathered archival materials and obtained selections from Stephen Strickland's monograph, The History of Regional Medical Programs (2000), to produce a history of the RMP from its conception to closing.
As part of its Profiles in Science project, the National Library of Medicine has digitized and made available over the World Wide Web a selection of Regional Medical Programs Collection for use by educators and researchers. This Web site provides access to the portions of the Regional Medical Programs Collection that are now publicly available. Individuals interested in conducting research in the Regional Medical Programs Collection are invited to contact the National Library of Medicine.
This online Exhibit is designed to introduce you to the history of the Regional Medical Programs Collection. It is divided into sections that focus on the subjects covered in the collection. We suggest that new visitors begin with this exhibit, which includes a selection of documents and visuals, organized within these sections. Each section begins with a "Background Narrative," which leads to "Documents" and "Visuals."
Visitors may access additional materials through Search on the navigation bar. They may also view the materials alphabetically or chronologically by choosing Browse on the navigation bar. Documents and visuals in these lists are arranged by format and then either alphabetically by title or chronologically.