a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Proposing improvements in the running of Harvard Medical School


Becoming dean of the Harvard School of Public Health
Howard Hiatt Physician
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

I began to have enquiries about deanships of medical schools as early as 1967 or '68. Barry Wood, then chairman of Research Committee at Johns Hopkins, offered me the deanship there. I wasn't really ready for a deanship then and not ready at all to leave my place at Beth Israel, but other offers came. In 1970, I was offered the deanship at Columbia Presbyterian. This was while we were in England. I made several trips across the water to look at the situation at Columbia and at Presbyterian Hospital, but I had great... and I was very eager to... to take that position. It was at a time when New York was in something of an uproar. The community... members of the community were expressing their unhappiness with the way they were being treated, and it seemed to me that there was a great opportunity for Columbia and Presbyterian Hospital to, to develop and strengthen ties with members of, of the community in Harlem and in Upper Manhattan.

I presented that to the then President of Columbia University, Andrew Cordier, who had been at the UN before he, he came back to Columbia, and to the then Chairman of the Board of Presbyterian Hospital. The latter had absolutely no interest in such activities. Said to me, on one occasion, 'Doctor, our community is the world', and pointed out that on the seventh floor of the Hartness Pavilion was Madame Chiang Kai-shek and her entourage. At any rate, I finally decided that there wasn't any way that I could really achieve what I wanted to achieve in a deanship and I went to see Cordier to tell him that I was sorry, but that I was withdrawing. He said to me, 'Howard, come here'. He said, 'Come to New York, come to Columbia. You and I, together, will approach the person in charge at the Presbyterian Hospital, we'll bring him around'. He said, 'After all, I brought Ben Gurion and Nasser together, and this seems to me like a small job'. Well, it was a job that I wasn't in the mood for and I said to him, 'Andrew, nothing would please me more than working with you, and if the next team does the job that needs doing it'll be a glorious job for the dean that follows, but I don't see myself in that role'.

So, I went back to London, finished the year there, came back to the... Beth Israel, really focused largely on building community programs, and in 1972 was about to accept the position as dean of the medical school at Yale when the President of Yale, Kingman Brewster, called his friend, Derek Bok, the new President at Harvard, and a person who had been a colleague of his, Kingman's, on the faculty of the Harvard Law School, Kingman called Derek to say that he was taking a member of Derek's faculty, and Derek called me to say that he was now looking for a dean of the School of Public Health, and he would really be grateful if I would take a look at it. He said, 'I've had a committee that has looked at the school and has said to me that it's not in good condition intellectually, and if you, if you really want to change it, he said, you've, you've got... No, in fact, he, he said, 'You have three choices. You can close it, you can merge it with the medical school, or you can change it very appreciably from the outside'. He said, I... Derek said, I can't do the first, the agenda is too important, if I merge it with the medical school it'll get lost, it's just miniscule as compared with the size of the medical school, and if I... so that leaves me only one choice and would you be willing to do it with me?

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: Columbia University, Presbyterian Hospital, Beth Israel, School of Public Health Harvard, Andrew Cordier, Derek Bok

Duration: 5 minutes, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008