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The Mary Lasker Papers

Letter from Kenneth M. Endicott to Mary Lasker pdf (86,699 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Kenneth M. Endicott to Mary Lasker
Kenneth Endicott, the first director of the National Cancer Institute's chemotherapy research program, predicted after the rapid growth of the program in the mid-1950s that "the next step--the complete cure--is almost sure to follow." By the 1980s, scientists had found about thirty drugs for treating human cancers, especially in children. Nevertheless, a "cure" proved elusive because too little was known about the basic biology of cancer to make targeted research into therapies fruitful. New discoveries about the genetic origins of cancer during the 1970s came from basic research in cancer virology, an area that had received only modest funding compared to chemotherapy.
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1 (86,699 Bytes)
1962-06-28 (June 28, 1962)
Endicott, Kenneth M.
National Cancer Institute (U.S.)
Lasker, Mary
Original Repository: Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Mary Lasker Papers
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Exhibit Category:
Cancer Wars
Box Number:
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Series I
SubSeries: Topical Files
SubSubSeries: Cancer
Folder: National Cancer Institute, 1962
June 28, 1962
Dear Mrs. Lasker:
It is with the deepest regret that I inform you that effective June 30, 1962, the National Cancer Institute is abolishing the Chemotherapy Board, the Viruses and Cancer Board, the Field Studies Board, and the various panels which have worked with these three boards in developing and guiding our programs in chemotherapy, virology, diagnostic research, biometry, epidemiology, and carcinogenesis. The provisions of President Kennedy's memorandum on conflict of interest were such that it became obvious that the Cancer Institute, with its large industrial contract program, would have to assume responsibility for the review of contract proposals and could no longer turn to outside advisory groups for this purpose.
Obviously, the Cancer Institute has to continue to have expert advice on its programs from nonfederal scientists, and we are developing plans for an alternative system for obtaining this advice. At the moment, there is such an enormous workload involved in clearances for existing committees and committee members that it is impossible to activate any new committees, but as soon as the backlog is cleared up a little, we will develop our alternative plan. The additional workload imposed upon the National Cancer Institute staff in connection with this new responsibility is very large, and I am sure cannot be managed unless we can call upon our experienced advisors on an individual basis to help out with special problems. I know that I can count on you to help in the interim period while we are making the changeover.
Finally, may I express my own personal gratitude and that of the entire Cancer Institute staff for your help in developing these important programs.
Very sincerely yours,
Kenneth M. Endicott, M. D.
National Cancer Institute
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