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Edward Shorter "The Health Century" Interview Collection 1986-1987
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Collection Scope and Content Note


The collection consists of unstructured interviews conducted by Edward Shorter in preparation for his book The Health Century (1987). Interviewees include industry representatives from companies such as Merck, Pfizer, and Bristol-Myers, and NIH institute leaders. The NIH interviewees explore the early history of NIH and its predecessors the Hygienic Laboratory and Bureau of Biologics; early leaders at NIH, their personalities, and leadership qualities; scientific controversies such as the Cutter incident and SV40 and their impact on NIH; changing nature of scientific research at NIH; recruiting and training young scientists; important contemporary research such as AIDS and cancer drugs. The corporate interviewees explore more technical aspects of drug production; the history and importance of specific drugs to their corporations; the nature of risk taking and leadership needed to support basic research in a corporate environment; how success and failures shape the drug industry; regulatory and patent environments; recruiting and training young scientists.

Shorter's book explores the incredible progress of medical science since 1945 with the U.S. leading the advance. The book contends that America's world predominance in medical research was the result of a unique cooperative synergy between academic medicine, private sector research, and the NIH. At the time, Shorter was part of the faculty at the University of Toronto. The book project was part of a larger NIH centennial project, the records of which HMD possesses in a separate collection.

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