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The Mary Lasker Papers

Letter from Sidney Farber to Mary Lasker pdf (169,224 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Sidney Farber to Mary Lasker
Number of Image Pages:
2 (169,224 Bytes)
1965-09-04 (September 4, 1965)
Farber, Sidney
Harvard Medical School. Children's Hospital
Lasker, Mary
Original Repository: Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Mary Lasker Papers
Courtesy of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.
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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Legislation as Topic
Exhibit Category:
Cancer Wars
Box Number:
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Series I
SubSeries: Topical Files
Folder: Farber, Dr. Sidney, 1955-1973
September 4, 1965
Dear Mary:
By this time I know that you have heard the good news of the action of the Oren Harris Committee. I hope that the President will not sign the Bill until you are there to stand by his side in acknowledgment of this wonderful revolution which you started.
Mike DeBakey did an unequalled job in persuading individuals from the Republican ranks to desert the reactionary position and join the enlightened Democrats. Mike DeBakey occupies a position in the world of medicine and in medical statesmanship unequalled by any doctor in my memory.
Mike Gorman played a unique role and so did Florence. Ed Dempsey worked until the last moment with whatever strength his office has and his own powers of persuasion.
I regret that the American Cancer Society, through its President, and also through Lane Adams and Harold Diehl did not feel that they could ask their divisions to send in hundreds and thousands of letters in an attempt to offset what the AMA and the American College of General Practice was doing. They analyzed their strength and said that the rank and file of the ACS medical members would unquestionably agree with the AMA physician. I am bitterly disappointed that we could not move them. It appears that the ACS has strength in other directions, but can not be depended upon to desert the AMA position.
This Center Bill represents a true revolution in American medicine. There is an immense amount to do to prevent this extraordinary accomplishment which you inspired from going the way of Shannon's Clinical Research Center. Incidentally you will be interested to know that those precious Clinical Research Centers are running into real difficulty. The regulations are so strict, as made originally by Shannon, that such places as Hopkins and Emory, and a number of others, are not using the beds anywhere near to capacity.
I have been unable to get myself to put into words a description of the Special Meeting of the Cancer Council in August. It was a very trying session. I shall leave for personal description the gigantic sham that Endicott is trying to perpetuate. What he wants in essence is to have 53 million dollars in contract money in Cancer Chemotherapy in his hands to support a program run completely by the Intramural staff. Zubrod has a very weak group of people now and finds it very difficult to attract any strong men. This is to be a completely directed, engineered program under the camouflage for Task Forces. The meaning of that term as they use it is quite different from the conception that you have, and what I strongly support.
On the second day, early in the morning, Endicott talked meaningless phrases in giving a Report. At one moment he made a statement about Contracts. I interrupted and made a motion that all Contracts be presented to the Council for review and approval. There was some discussion showing that the various Council Members did agree. Before Endicott could recover we called for the question and passed this unanimously.
Mike Gorman told me on the phone yesterday that when he urged Senator Hill to put language about Contracts in the Bill, Shannon told him that it was not necessary because the Council had already passed a Motion to that effect.
I immediately called Senator Hill and have obtained an appointment for Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, since the Senator was going South for the holiday week end. I shall urge him to put in the language as an order from him, because the NIH is not compelled to obey any Motion made by the Council. They have demonstrated their ability to get around anything that comes from the Council alone.
The Special Meeting was a dreary one, without you. There were a few others absent, including Dr. Egeberg. Lee Clark stayed only a number of hours and left before the critical discussions were held on this new Cancer Chemotherapy Contract proposal.
It is sad that the best energies of the Council are spent in defensive tactics rather than in good planning and decisive action.
The fuss about the Surgeon General's successor has died down. There will be time on your return to do something more. I was amazed to see the initial excitement in favor of Jim Shannon, led by Shannon himself, and Stu Sessoms. That seems to have died down now, although at first the commissioned officers were said to have been in favor of putting Shannon in the S.G.'s office for a variety of different reasons.
The one outside man who has received the greatest amount of approval in discussions I have heard is Bob Aldrich. Financial restrictions (a salary of $18,000 a year for a new man coming into the service} would have to be corrected in some way before he could even consider it.
This has been the busiest summer I have ever known in our own research programs. It is a great privilege to be able to keep going and to have the opportunities that we have now.
I hope that you have had a happy visit in Europe and that you have kept in the best of health. All of us here are looking forward to your return with eagerness and pleasant anticipation. The iron is hot and this is the time to pound without cessation if we are to realize the great opportunities which your Center Plan has opened for the Country.
Always with best wishes for all that is good, I am -
Sincerely yours
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