Although Shannon appreciated Lasker's instrumental role in promoting the rapid growth of the National Institutes of Health
in the quarter-century after World War II, he criticized her for trying to meddle in the operation of NIH and to impose her
personal research priorities on the agency. For her part, Lasker suspected Shannon of a bias towards basic over clinical
research. Their relationship was distant, and Lasker visited Shannon in his office only once. Another NIH director and a
deputy director received Lasker awards; Shannon never did.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (128,030 Bytes)
1964-07-17 (July 17, 1964)
Shannon, James A.
National Institutes of Health. Office of the Director
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):
Research Support as Topic
Letter from James A. Shannon to Mary Lasker (June 26, 1964)
The point I wanted to make in the talk we had at lunch was that the Senate Appropriations Committee Report covering fiscal
1964 funds to NIH contained this statement:
"The committee recognizes that a sizable body of fundamental research information is now permitting selection of certain
problems for intensive and extensive exploitation, such as chemical and virus causation of cancer. To move ahead expeditiously
in such areas will require resources not now in existence, particularly moderately large-scale facilities with special air
handling for work with hazardous viruses and chemicals. Industrial-type facilities and operations, including applied and developmental
research capabilities, will be required for full exploitation of research leads. The creation of this capability will necessitate
long-term commitments to those who are able and willing to undertake this type of research. All moneys allocated in this contractual
program shall be spent only after review and approval by the National Cancer Advisory Council."
In actuality, the Council is not provided with any opportunity to review and approve the contracts, nor has the Council been
asked to review and approve contract grants since I have been on the Council the last two years. This is in direct conflict
with the expressed direction of the Senate report and with the remarks of Congressman Fogarty on the House floor September
26th of last year, at the time the House accepted the Conference Report:
"The second point I wanted to mention is that it is my understanding that research contracts, of which the National Cancer
Institute finances a great many, are not cleared through the same channels of advisory groups as are grant applications. After
discussing this with several people with considerable professional competence in this field, I am of the opinion that the
same procedure should be employed for both."
According to Public Law 355, enacted by the 80th Congress, incorporating the National Cancer and Heart Institutes under Title
IV, the functions of the Council are "to review applications from any university, hospital, laboratory, or other institution
or agency, whether public or private, or from individuals, for grants-in-aid for research projects relating to cancer, and
certify to the Surgeon General its approval of grants-in-aid in the cases of such projects which show promise of making valuable
contributions to human knowledge with respect to the cause, prevention, or methods of diagnosis or treatment of cancer."
The Council members' information is totally inadequate unless they do have the opportunity to review and approve contracts,
especially as the contract program is such a large part of the total effort.
As you noticed, no up-dated list of contracts was provided for review and approval either at the March or the June meetings
of the Council, nor has the Council been given the opportunity to review and approve contract grants during the last two years.
I think this goes contrary to the expressed wish and understanding of the Congress about the duties of the Council and makes
it impossible for the Council to have a comprehensive view of what the total research picture as in this field.