Democratic Senator and later Congressman Claude Pepper of Florida was one of Lasker's first and most important allies
in Congress. In the summer of 1945, Mary and her husband prevailed upon Pepper, a friend from Florida vacations, to hold
hearings in pursuit of larger appropriations for research on cancer, mental health, and aging. The hearings not only presaged
Mary Lasker and Florence Mahoney's research interests over the next four decades, but set a pattern for their congressional
lobbying. Through her connection to the Miami Daily News and the Cox newspaper chain, Florence secured editorial endorsements
in Pepper's home state of Florida. Mary made campaign contributions to Pepper and supplied him with statistics on diseases
that caused the greatest mortality. She suggested that Pepper recite these statistics, have expert witnesses (supplied by
Lasker) testify to the need for more medical research--the first such testimony in Congress--then put government officials
on the spot by asking them how much money their departments were spending on these diseases, and why they were not asking
for more. Hearings orchestrated by Lasker over the next two decades would follow this same pattern.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (80,754 Bytes)
1947-02-24 (February 24, 1947)
United States Senate
Original Repository: Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Mary Lasker Papers
Reproduced with permission of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Legislation as Topic
Health Care Reform
Mary Lasker and the Growth of the National Institutes of Health
Letter from Claude Pepper to Mary Lasker (June 28, 1947)
Many thanks for your letter saying that you would introduce the bill for research against diseases of the heart and arteries
this week. I am thrilled, and anxious to know when you think this bill and the cancer bill might possibly be brought up for
hearings. As I think I have told you, Mr. James Adams, the chairman of the executive committee of the Cancer Society, is anxious
that the cancer hearings should begin around the middle of April, in the midst of the American Cancer Society's campaign.
If you think that is a possibility, considering the hearings for labor and other bills, let me know and I will see what public
agitation can be created for them both.
I am anxious for a copy of the heart and artery bill out here. Could you have your secretary send me one? I am also sending
you some clippings which have appeared in the newspapers and the American Heart Association's campaign. This Association
is a group of doctors, which has never made a public drive before, so have had no experience in publicity or money raising
until now. The strongest unit of the Association is the New York Heart Association, which has some laymen working for it.
I spoke to Dr. Louis Katz of Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, who is on the Chicago unit of the American Heart Association,
and he was enthusiastic about a federal bill for the building of facilities for research and for research grants-in-aid.
We are having a lovely time here in this sunny, charming place. We do hope that you and Mildred are well, and we look forward
to seeing you sometime at the end of April. But in the meantime, do let me hear from you.