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The Clarence Dennis Papers

Call from Dr. Ringler of NHLI pdf (271,881 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Call from Dr. Ringler of NHLI
Number of Image Pages:
3 (271,881 Bytes)
1971-09-18 (September 18, 1971)
[Dennis, Clarence]
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Exhibit Category:
Directing the Artificial Heart Program at NIH, 1972-1974
Box Number: 5
Folder Number: 10
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Physical Condition:
Series: National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI), 1962-1979
SubSeries: Administrative Files, 1967-1976
Folder: [N.]H.L.I. Offer, 1971-1972
Sept. 18, 1971.
Call from Dr. Ringler of NHLI
R: The reason I am calling you now is to find out if you would be interested in being considered to be the chief of that program (Artificial Heart).
D: I would be fascinated. It seems to me that I might very well be more useful there than I would be any place else. There are many questions that arise in connection with it. I suppose that the wise thing to do would be to sit down and discuss those questions in some detail. I don't know what the implications are timewise, commitment-wise, the amount of traveling that would be involved, the pattern of my activity etc. Would I be in a position in which I would genuinely be in a position to do more than transmit? Would I have some definite input as to what decisions are made, etc.?
R: That's why we need you. The answer is a very emphatic "Yes". Let me give you a partial answer now. We try to make a very substantial program delegation to our program people. We do that partly for selfish reasons, believe it or not, mainly that if you have a good person in a program, as you probably know better than I do, in order to keep him there and to keep him happy you need to let him run it, you know. Normally the way it works here is that there are program discussions during the year during which we discuss what the various programs are expected to accomplish in some specified period of time. This has to get tied into the budget process because there are some 40 programs in this Institute and there is never enough money to give everybody all they want.
D: It's an area in which it would be feasible to make enemies, isn't it?
R: My position is that of the man who listens and tries to make an initial judgment and maybe forms the basis for the Institute's overall posture. The point I wished to make was that once that's made the programs have a very substantial delegation of responsibility. So I think that that won't be a problem. On the travel thing, some travel is involved. People work in dfrt ways, I find; some people travel a very substantial amount of the time and others travel somewhat less. I find that in an administrative job such as this that if you don't do some traveling, you lose contact with what's going on and what the community thinks and the community wants, and so on. Every now and then I sort of disappear here and go on extended tours around the country.
D: Hufnagel offered me a professorship there and a place to work. Would these two be incompatible? It seems to me that there would be such an appearance of conflict of interest that it would be unwise to try to do both.
R: I suspect that's the case, however I would not want to take that attitude without giving it some additional thought. It might be possible to work out some arrangement whereby you could continue to do some work in the laboratory.
D: I was thinking in terms of maybe 2 days a week, or 2 and one half days a week. Of course patients come in Saturdays and Sundays with coronaries too. I have already found that last year there were something like 259 cases that came in between the VA and Geotown. With that amount of material it might be fruitful to try to do something there.
R: I think that when you come down we could explore that. There are some potential conflicts, as you point out, and we would have to find a way to avoid them.
D: There are two courses that I could follow. I could ask your permission down there to let the grant continue to be carried here by somebody who is on the spot here; I have no idea what your reaction would be to that.
R: If you have somebody who could carry the program, the possibility of transferring the grant to him is a real one.
D: Then I might be only a consultant on the work being done here then, if that were the case. If I went down there and continued this rather generous grant, I can see how people who apply for grants and don't get them would look at my position and conclude that someone is playing politics. What date had you in mind?
R: As far as we are concerned, we would like to fill it as soon as possible.
D: We have a brand new president of the Med. Center. We have done a good deal of talking, and if anything like this were to materialize, I do believe I would rock the boat if this were within the present calendar year. Would that drive you crazy?
R: No. We have handled that situation in the past. For example, when Claude L'Enfant moved here from Washington, we recruited him, and then he was to come on board some months later; during that time we had him come down a day a week and then toward the end of the period he was here 2 or 3 days a week, so it was kind of a transitional period. That's a definite possibility. It would be much easier for you than it was for him from Seattle.
I briefed him on the VACO matter. Would it be feasible to take this job and also to be a consultant to the VACO?
R: I feel quite sure that you could serve in a consultant role to them. One of the things that we're going to do is to work out a rather close cooperation with the VA.
D: I had wondered if that might not serve a useful function in that regard.
R: Actually we have a committee of VA people and NHI people. It's like all committees in that there is much discussion but not much action, and a program such as you would be identified with in a very active role there would move it over into the operational factor.
D: Could we set a date to meet. I would like to talk this over with the Pres. of the Med. Center before going very far. (We agreed to my coming Sept. 28) 10 AM
R: We really should talk before you talk to the Prs. because maybe when you get into the nitty gritty of this why, well you'd be better informed if you did that.
D: I gather I would have readily available consultation.
R: I think we could do a couple of things for you. The Institute can provide very good administrative support about things having to do with government. We can do very well in that dept.
D: As to straight scientific foundation also I would want all the top notch consultation I could get.
R: We operate as a pretty good family here. We would call on you, but you could also call on us.
D: There is one other item. With regard to assistants, would there be any reason to think that I might take somebody along who has been working with him for years?
R: The secretary line is vacant at the moment. Salary-wise it runs about $8000
D: She is earning more than that now.
R: How much more?
D: $9010 from one source and $250 a month in addition. (This was wrong; it is $300 a month)
(Lost some with change of tape).
It concerned me how we could work with the Civil Service rules. She is not trained as a typist or short-hand artist and it would not be useful to evaluate her on the basis of her typing, even though she does very acceptably. She takes care of all of our budgetary matters and staff appointments. With this sort of thing her performance is just superb.
R: I think that when you are here we could review with you the staff that's available in the program and the kinds of people and so on and then - it's a possibility. Civil Service rules shouldn't frighten you. I know they have a very bad image in some peoples' minds, but they can usually be used to one's advantage if you know how to work them.
D: I will look for a confirming note from you and expect to meet with you on Sept. 28.
R: The people there will be Ted Cooper, myself, Claude L'Enfant, Mr. Moore, who is our Executive Officer. In a university you would call him a business manager; he is a very capable person. Anyone else you might want there? Bob Berliner or anyone in our intramural program? Glenn Morrow or Don Fredrickson?
D: It would kind of please me if Glenn Morrow might conceivably be there. Does he know about these negotiations?
R: No, he does not.
D: I know him reasonably well and would like to know his idea of the likelihood of my hitting it off very well.
R: I feel I have very good rapport with him. I'll see, unless he's just out of the country that particular day, in which case we would have to make another arrangement.
D: I wouldn't think it was essential to change the date in case he could not be there. I thought if he were available it might be helpful if he could be there.
R: I'm glad that you are willing to come down, and we'll look forward to talking to you about it.
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