This letter to her friend and political associate Florence Mahoney reflected the beginnings of Mary Lasker's Congressional
lobbying for federal sponsorship of medical research, which until World War II had been insignificant. The budget of the
National Institute of Health (then still singular), successor to the U.S. Public Health Service's Hygienic Laboratory,
did not exceed $700,000 on the eve of the war, compared to $4.7 million provided by private foundations for medical research.
Government research focused on agriculture, including animal diseases, but not human health. Lasker convinced Florida Senator
Claude Pepper to hold hearings in the summer of 1945 on the need for greatly increased federal funds for medical research,
which Lasker referred to in her letter. The hearings, which featured expert "citizen witnesses" and health data,
all provided by Lasker, set a pattern for her style of lobbying over the next two decades.
Number of Image Pages:
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1945-07-23 (July 23, 1945)
Original Repository: Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Mary Lasker Papers
Reproduced with permission of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.
I was so happy to hear from you today! Your letter took a week to reach me - it was written on the 16th. Albert seems to
be better, but he is still taking penicillin by mouth. We will see what happens when he stops that. We don't know yet
about an operation. I am praying it will be avoided!
I am so glad the penicillin did the job on your sinus infection! Whatever happened to the little girl in Idaho whom we tried
to get penicillin for two years ago? Is she still alive? It certainly could be given to her now if she is.
It sounds to me as if you were practically running a summer resort! I am so happy for you that Constance is there, with friend!
I think how beautiful it is and wish we could come, but it would be too dangerous with Albert not knowing about his health,
and the travel situation as you describe it.
We are sending you the additional cancer pamphlets under separate cover. Do let me know when Dan arrives what all the dope
is on the clinic or hospital set-up, and who gave the land and the $100,000.
I am sending you the Times article by Pepper. It was read into the Congressional Record, and we will try to get some copies.
Today, Kilgore, Senator Johnson, and Pepper introduced a bill for a National Research Foundation which will include all types
of scientific research. Twenty percent of the money is to be used for medical research. This is based on the Bush report,
which I will send you later. Pepper made a fine statement in the Senate today (or he was supposed to), based on all our dope.
The hearings will probably be in October, so we will have to plan to go. I don't think it will do as much for medical
research as an independent Medical Research Commission would do, but there seemed to be support and interest in its being
done this way, and Pepper promised if it doesn't go through this way, he will introduce an independent medical research
I think it's a shame about Ballard's leaving the paper. I really think it was the most exciting thing being done in
the newspaper world, because she had so much influence in the community.
Apropos of influence, the uproar that Deutsch made in PM certainly resulted in getting General Hines out of the Veterans Administration.
A good job! I pray that General Bradley will be omniscient in the need for medical and psychiatric research and training in
the Veterans Administration. If he is, it could revolutionize civilian medicine, as they have such big units and so much money
that they could set a pace for the rest of the country to follow.
I certainly agree that Royal and Trammell would be quits startled by Mr. Wylie and his views ala Generation of Vipers!
I just finished a book on Caruso which I found quite touching. I will send it to you; also the Gertie Lawrence book and another
book that I thought most interesting - Home to India.
When do you think you may be leaving camp? Do let me know when you may arrive! I will send you some more things soon. Best
love to you, angel, and to Dan and the boys. Tell the boys to be sure to go around and visit with their future constituents
because we are counting on a Mahoney in the Senate from Idaho!