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Selecting Bill Silen as Professor of Surgery


Battling on behalf of Beth Israel Medical Center
Howard Hiatt Physician
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The Board of Trustees was committed to seeing the hospital develop. They signed on at once to my vision for the, the future of the hospital. I explained to them that, in order to attract the kinds of people that I thought would do what the hospital would profit from having done, required much more laboratory space than the hospital had, and that it was crucial that we address that need early. The then head of the hospital, the... the person who was the titular director of the hospital wasn't in complete accord with that and we... we did have disagreement on that point. He's, when the trustees supported me with respect to the priority of their building, that is to say, a research building first and a new patient care building second, he subsequently left and we sought a new director. I played a role in that. Mitchell Rabkin was... had had no previous experience in hospital administration, but he agreed to come in that role.

I recall the meeting that I had with the then President of the Hospital Board of Trustees, wonderful man, who was head of a local business called the Green Shoe Company. The man's name was Sam Slosberg. The Green Shoe Company made children's shoes, and about a year before my meeting with Sam Slosberg he, quite by chance, had recruited my brother who had a small children's shoe company and the one that Slosberg was in charge of was one that wanted very much to get my brother, so they bought the... the company. My brother, who has served as a model for me in many ways, an extraordinary man, deeply committed to the problems of society and has expressed that commitment in a variety of ways, my brother had... apparently had a meeting with Sam Slosberg on the afternoon of the evening on which I made the pitch for a science building to, to Sam. And, Sam turned to the people around him and said, 'All day, all day I've had to put up with the unreasonable demands of this man's brother, and in the evening, seeking a little bit of repose, I come and find myself putting up with his unreasonable demands!' But that was more or less the spirit of the, of the trustees of the hospital, and it was just an exciting place to be.

The men that we recruited that came to head the various units, hematology and cardiology and endocrinology, and kidney disease, people who were just starting out, by and large, when they arrived, by the time the, a... a period of four or five years had gone by, were getting offers themselves for chairmanships in various places around the, the country. Dan Kimberg ultimately went to Columbia Presbyterian as chairman of the department of medicine. Dick Nesson went to the Brigham and Women's Hospital ultimately as president of the hospital. Lou Sherwood went to, to the, to the, the Albert Einstein Medical School as chairman of the department of medicine. Who else? Lou Sherwood... Howard Frazier came to the School of Public Health to Head the Center for the Evaluation of, of Health Practices. Stuart Schlossman went to the Dana Farber Centre. A group of very gifted, deeply committed, wonderful colleagues.

Born in 1925, American Howard Hiatt set up one of the first medical oncology research and training units in the US and has headed up some of America's most prestigious medical institutions. Hiatt attended Harvard College and received his MD from the Harvard Medical School in 1948. He was a member of the team at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, that first identified and described mRNA, and he was among the first to demonstrate mRNA in mammalian cells. From 1991 to 1997, he was Secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, where he began and directs the Academy's Initiatives For Children program. He is also committed to helping disadvantaged people access decent health care.

Listeners: Milton C. Weinstein

Milton C. Weinstein, Ph.D., is the Henry J. Kaiser Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School. At the Harvard School of Public Health he is Academic Director of the Program in Health Decision Science, and Director of the Program on Economic Evaluation of Medical Technology . He is best known for his research on cost-effectiveness of medical practices and for developing methods of economic evaluation and decision analysis in health care. He is a co-developer of the CEPAC (Cost-Effectiveness of Preventing AIDS Complications) computer simulation model, and has conducted studies on prevention and treatment of HIV infections. He is the co-developer of the Coronary Heart Disease Policy Model, which has been used to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of cardiovascular prevention and treatment. He is an author of four books: Decision Making in Health and Medicine: Integrating Evidence and Values; Cost-Effectiveness in Health and Medicine,the report of the Panel of Cost Effectiveness in Health and Medicine; Clinical Decision Analysis; and Hypertension: A Policy Perspective.He has also published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed medical, public health, and economics journals. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Award for Career Achievement from the Society for Medical Decision Making. Dr. Weinstein received his A.B. and A.M. in Applied Mathematics (1970), his M.P.P. (1972), and his Ph.D. in Public Policy (1973) from Harvard University.

Tags: Green Shoe Company, Sam Slosberg

Duration: 5 minutes, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008