Dr. David Weeks Oral History 2005
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Dr. David & Mrs. David Weeks Oral History Interview
Conducted by: Edward McManus
January 25, 2005
Mr. McManus: My first question was Dave, when did you start the RPB and get involved in the Eye Institute? Because as Newell says, how did he put it? It was “the very happy employment of David Weeks.” Yeah, that was very nice so I quoted that in the chapter so far.
Dave Weeks: The RPB was established in 1960 and I was the first full time executive employee they had in 1961—September 1961. Of course Jules Stein was very much interested in establishing an eye institute and had visited with Dr. Masland down at the NEI, the NINDB and saw that more than half of the patients being seen at the institute were eye patients; This wasn’t logically based. And he felt that as a result eye research ought to get half of the annual appropriation to the NINDB.
Mr. McManus: What we were getting like 16% or something?
Dave Weeks: Dr. David Cogan had written to Jules Stein and indicated that he thought we should try to get an eye institute. His suggestion interested Stein, but Dr. Maumenee was the key ophthalmological player in seeking the establishment of the NEI!!
Mr. McManus: So Dave, I want to give the right people credit as we go along. Now Dave Cogan in my view, I know what an impact he had on Carl and I know even at the NEI the other day they had a training seminar about clinician scientists and Dave Cogan was the model. And I think Dave, kind of intellectually, maybe not politically is one of those guys that we are indebted to—I mean he really influenced the science.
Dave Weeks: Dr. Cogan was very quiet and very humble. I just remember the letter. I thought it was a very short letter saying nothing would really happen with eye research until they had a National Eye Institute. And so, Jules interested Mary Lasker in the project and the board of Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) got behind it and really charged me with the responsibility of getting it moving. In the meantime, Tom Duane had been retained to do a survey for us—national survey which resulted in a publication in Ophthalmic Research, USA. And it proposed that a National Eye Institute be established.
Mr. McManus: You know I ought to go back—I’ve got to go back and I’m saying this partly to remind myself and get that recommendation because I have that a little bit outlined in the chapter but I haven’t nailed down key contributors to beginning the NEI and that’s very critical.
Dave Weeks: Actually his first draft indicated that there should be a neural sensory institute and I told him, RPB’s trustees wouldn’t stand for that. I mean I’ve been charged with the responsibility of getting an Eye Institute. At one time Dr. Duane had an ophthalmology practice in Congressman Fred Rooney’s district. Tom knew him and introduced me to the Congressman.
Mr. McManus: Was… That was one of my questions. Tom Duane was in Rooney’s district?
Dave Weeks: Yes, yeah in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He lived there.
McManus: Lived there, not where his department was in Philadelphia. Okay.
Dave Weeks: Then I talked to Fred about getting the bills that were introduced to establish the Cancer and the Heart Institutes and went down to Washington and picked up copies from the printing office and used the two Bills as prototypes to prepare a draft of a Bill calling for the establishment of an eye institute.
Mr. McManus: So you wrote the legislation?
Dave Weeks: Changed the wording only.
Mr. McManus: Dave Weeks’ writes legislation (laughter). I mean that’s very, very important, okay. I mean can you imagine that they hire these high-priced lawyers to do this stuff (laughter). And I guess joking aside, I never let any body change that original legislation and kind of jealously guarded it and the only—there were two changes, one was construction authority, which Polster and I and Dave did and that was really worth while. And the other was something that Schepens was able to get Kennedy to put in and I was able to change it.
Dave Weeks: Low vision was it?
Mr. McManus: No, it was on diabetic retinopathy. I was able to change it enough that it wasn’t binding on us and it didn’t mean anything so we never…we ignored it.
Dave Weeks: It was really quite as simple. You know the bills, the bills themselves are very short.
Mr. McManus: Yeah.
Dave Weeks: It was just simply a case of changing Cancer to Eye…
Mr. McManus: You know how Washington works, everything is a big deal and give me a $100,000 to do this, and…
Dave Weeks: Mary thought there should be a change in it and I remember one time Al Burns and I were riding by taxi up to Columbia to visit with Dr. Devoe, who was the chairman. And I was putting these changes in, writing them into the Bill in a taxi cab as we went out there to talk to Devoe about it. The edited Bill was introduced I think in 1967, I don’t know what the Congress was but it was introduced late and didn’t get out of the committee.
Mr. McManus: Yeah, I have some history on that.
Dave Weeks: We changed the Bill and had it reintroduced. This correspondence I showed it to you in that picture, contains some of the original correspondence I had with Fred Rooney and his response that, so that the new Bill could be introduced in the first couple of days at that new Congress.
Mr. McManus: Was that the chairman of the sub-committee or was it….
Dave Weeks: No, I don’t think he was. He was just a Congressman.
Mr. McManus: Yeah, yeah. That’s what I thought.
Dave Weeks: About 35 Congressmen signed on. They all introduced their own Bills. The interesting difference between the Senate and the House at that time—I don’t know if it is now—but in the Senate the Bill goes up to the front of the chamber and anyone who wants to add to it can put their name on it so it’s introduced with all the names on it. But in the House each one goes up and introduces his own Bill. So there was something like 35 separate Bills introduced all saying the same thing.
Mr. McManus: I did see that and I couldn’t figure that out and now I understand.
Dave Weeks: When Tom finished his report we had a major meeting at the American Academy meeting. I think it was held in Chicago. Then we invited Academy members and about 450 attended and Fred then gave a presentation on the Eye Institute. This was before the legislation had been passed and we’d written the speech for him. Dick Masland, Director of the NINDB was there and Dick was a wonderful, wonderful man.
Mr. McManus: He and his son.
Dave Weeks: When someone asked Dick how he felt about his being at this meeting and he said, “Now I know how a bastard feels at a family reunion.” (laughter). Oh, we laughed about that one.
Mr. McManus: It is very interesting because when you look back at stuff, it’s very clear how Neurology in a lot of cases, thought they were being fair. And we interviewed Murray Goldstein also who was the head of the grants program at Neurology at that time, but let me—and they all thought that they were being fair but then there’s also apparent that there’s a whole case they didn’t listen to. They were looking back 20 years ago when ophthalmology was not where it was then.
Dave Weeks: No, Masland was a neurologist and it was natural that he would be…
Mr. McManus: Protect your own turf.
Dave Weeks: And he was charged really with keeping a thing together. He couldn’t be a friend to us in that sense, at least on the record.
Mr. McManus: And then—but then, Becker before that, Becker who was on the Council, I interviewed Bernie and he was the only ophthalmologist on the Eye Council right about this time. He was offered the job as Director of a division of blindness research, did you know that?
Dave Weeks: No, I didn’t know that.
Mr. McManus: Shannon brought him over when all this was going on. He had hoped that NIH, had some you know, we were doing something. And they, I thought it was a very smart thing, and they offered him that job and he was one of the prominent if not the most prominent academic ophthalmologists. NIH was very comfortable with Bernie and offered him the head of a division and said that he would have his own budget authority, still within Neurology. But he would talk to Shannon directly about that and about the budget and Bernie was, kind of enjoyed—kind of giving me that piece of information. But he didn’t want the job and you can understand, he didn’t want to move to Washington.
Dave Weeks: Everett Kinsey and Bernie Becker were on the Council at that time. And I talked to Bernie and Bernie was very much in support of establishing an eye institute, but when it came down to getting people to testify and neither did Kinsey. Those who testified included: Drs. Cogan, Duane, Hogan, Maumenee, Kaufman, Newell, Stein, and Straatsma.
Mr. McManus: Yeah, I have that. I’ve looked at all that.
Dave Weeks: But uh, Becker…
Mr. McManus: I thought, I didn’t…
Dave Weeks: …Becker was not among them. I never faulted him for that, I thought…
Mr. McManus: No, he thought because he was on the Council he had to be neutral.
Mr. McManus: Um, okay. And then—let’s see, you hired Luke Quinn?
Dave Weeks: No, Luke Quinn was representing the Cancer Society and Mary Lasker suggested that we retain him to represent RPB, so we did retain him.
Mr. McManus: And what was his role? Was he influential or…
Dave Weeks: No, uh, yes, he was. He was very matter-of-fact and a bit on the crude side, but he was an effective lobbyist.
Mrs. Weeks: He was a military man wasn’t he?
Dave Weeks: Colonel.
Mr. McManus: Yeah, cause one of the purposes of this hopefully from my perspective will be as a public administration kind of reference, you know. This is how you start a new organization from scratch in the government. You have to have all this public involvement. I mean at least at this point in time in history, and this is how it goes on, and this is how you can maybe make a mark with an organization.
Dave Weeks: Quinn’s influence was with Fogarty—Congressman Fogarty and Senator Hill on the appropriations side. He didn’t have any particular influence with Staggers who was Chairman of the Interstate and Foreign Congress Committee and that’s the committee we had to influence.
Mr. McManus: Very good point.
Dave Weeks: To get this legislation moving.
Mr. McManus: Was there any? Where did Maumenee come into this?
Dave Weeks: Dr. Maumenee was a member of RPBs Scientific Advisory Panel. When we first introduced the legislation, one of the reasons it didn’t get out of committee was that there was no scientific organization which supported it. The Academy wouldn’t support it because it was then the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology and they felt that they shouldn’t be involved. The people in ARVO were afraid to do anything because they thought they might lose their grant support. There were no other agencies we could find and so we talked to Ed Maumenee about doing something and that’s where the idea of forming the Association of University of Professors (AUPO) emerged. Dr. Maumenee organized a meeting of five influential department heads they decided they would see if they couldn’t form AUPO. And when AUPO met in ’62, I think, was their first meeting. Their first item of business was to pass a resolution in support of the Eye Institute and that gave the movement the scientific authenticity that we needed when it went back to Congress. And that’s one of the reasons it finally went in to committee. So he was very key. He was very active. Ophthalmology owes him a real dept of gratitude for his contribution. He routinely testified for us before the Appropriations Committees from 1961 until 1995 when the alliance was formed.
Mr. McManus: And he knew Hill also.
Dave Weeks: Yes, he knew Hill very well.
Mr. McManus: As close as you pointed out on the Senate side it doesn’t matter so much but on the House side you had to have the Interstate and Commerce Committee.
Dave Weeks: Dr. Maumenee took care of a lot of Congressmen and Senators too. Later, after the NEI was established we were going to try to get laboratory construction money for the Institute, but that’s another story. Staggers had been a patient of his because a little chip of metal had hit him in the eye and so he knew Maumenee very well so they were all plusses.
Mr. McManus: He helped the Director of the NIH in about 1973, you know, ’75, ’76, or maybe it was ’78; to it was Don Fredrickson.
Dave Weeks: Oh yeah.
Mr. McManus: And they were trying to sell the Arthritis Institute and NIH recognized it had no political clout what-so-ever to stop it which is really sad. It hasn’t changed. Things haven’t changed a bit. And so I told Don Fredrickson, I said why don’t you call Mary Lasker and see if she won’t help you ‘cause I don’t think she signed on for this Arthritis thing and she knows a lot of these people that you don’t know. And he said well, the Director of NIH doesn’t talk to a person like Mary Lasker. And you know, I was kind of young and just starting in and I couldn’t believe it. But that was, that was the attitude at NIH at that time. It’s completely changed now. It was all Ivory Tower scientists and doctor knows best and you know the public stage where politics is dirty although you know, we’re all in the government.
Dave Weeks: Political animal.
Mr. McManus: And Fredrickson called Carl of course, asking for help thinking that Carl was political because he was with all these bad eye guys who were starting an institute. So Carl asked me what to do and I said let’s call Ed Maumenee. Ed Maumenee took a very formal draft letter to Staggers and put the message in his own words (laughter)…
Dave Weeks: Frustrating.
Mr. McManus: That’s the good stuff. We wrote a formal letter from Staggers to the Committee or something saying, you know—postpone this vote on the Bill and Maumenee said he would give it to him. But I went over and Maumenee came out of surgery with his surgical gowns on and Dave’s probably dealt with him the same way. He saw the letter and threw it in the basket. Got a secretary and put some doctor’s of West Virginia wording in the letter; you know how doctors in West Virginia write. Frederickson had kind of given us all this form stuff, but it was countrified by Maumenee. And uh, he had such a relationship that Staggers did send the letter. So you also hired Van Slyke at RPB?
Dave Weeks: Well Dr. C. J. Van Slyke and Medford Runyon were retained by the RPB in the very beginning as consultants. And Dr. Van Slyke acted as the Board’s Scientific Director.
Mr. McManus: He’d been Deputy Director of NIH.
Dave Weeks: Yes he had.
Mr. McManus: I had never known that. This is more info for me to put in the book, I just… He must have been a duck out of water.
Dave Weeks: He was quite active with our scientific advisory panel.
Mr. McManus: On your own at RPB you had concerns.
Dave Weeks: Yeah, Jules Stein and Jim Adams didn’t think that RPB really needed a scientific advisory panel. And I indicated that we should have one to provide scientific authenticity for our grants program. I had been doing some work before I went with the RPB for a fund-raising counseling firm and had done a survey for Harvard for their Harvard Medical Center. And so I’ve met a lot of their Deans around the country that were graduates of Harvard. So when Stein said he didn’t want to have ophthalmologists on the Board because they were all scratching each other’s back in their grants programs and in various organizations around the country, I suggested that we get people who were preeminent in many different scientific fields. I had met, through my survey work, Ed Dempsey an anatomist and Dean of Washington University in Saint Louis and I knew Ed Tatum who was a virologist and a Nobel Prize Winner. And Sidney Farber I’d met, and so I had all these people. I got Bill Prentice who was a psychologist and the President at Wheaton College. It was really blue ribbon group. Cyler Hammond who had been the co-author of The Hammond Horn Cancer Report, and epidemiologist. We ended up with ten people, three of whom were either Nobel Prize winners or who had received the Nobel Prize. Keafer Hartline was a physiologist and George Wall, a biochemist from Harvard, so it was really a first class group. I didn’t think we could hold them together but they never saw each other in scientific meetings and they all enjoyed each other very much and became very active and an important group.
Mr. McManus: That’s good. We talked about a couple of leaders from ophthalmology, Cogan and Maumenee where there others who were really uh, stand out?
Dave Weeks: All those who testified before the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee played important roles. [Ed M. Nosthi testimony booklet.]
Mr. McManus: Well yeah. When you think of it, I mean, people are like sheep and not ready to buck the NIH with all the intangible things that the culture can bring down upon you. Just to get a group of academic people who have to live in that environment, for their career. To get them to work on a new NEI, I mean this was an unusual group to begin with and you should be applauded.
Dave Weeks: Yes.
Mr. McManus: This was-I mean that became very clear to me. And then I have my own history and I’ve seen that group and I’ve seen the other groups that have come along and I think that was one of the most unusual groups of academic ophthalmologists and scientists that had been around.
Dave Weeks: They were all, you know, Brad Straatsma, that entire group that came to testify had to make a sacrifice to do it. We had an interesting challenge because we had—I think there were five or six who testified before the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. We didn’t want them to be giving the same argument so we had to take the five and the testimony for each one had to be approached from a different sort of perspective.
Mr. McManus: And so, somebody did extent of the problem, somebody did research, and like that.
Dave Weeks: There is some redundancy in it but it was…
Mr. McManus: Um-hmm, no, it was pretty well done.
Dave Weeks: It was a major project and we wrote all of the testimony in the office, Al Burns and myself.
Mrs. Weeks: I wonder if he knows about the selection of Director of the NEI?
Mr. McManus: Well, I was going to ask, that’s a good transition about the people who considered as a Director of the new institute.
Dave Weeks: After the Eye Institute became a reality we started looking around for people to run it and none of the testifiers wanted to do it. Frank Newell suggested that they have each one take it for a year on a sabbatical. That idea didn’t attract much interest and so following this, I had a meeting to bring them all together to go over possible people to become institute director. Art Keeney was having a meeting in Philadelphia and I believed I ruined his meeting because I got them all to come to New York City to consider possible candidates. They suggested 26 names. It’s interesting Carl’s name was not on that list.
Mr. McManus: Right.
Dave Weeks: Which intrigued me because he had been trained with Maumenee and with Cogan. And I had a feeling that they did probably had it rating personality as much as anything. The one name that came up prominently was Irv Leopold and someone, I think it was Frank said Irving would not take the job because his wife was on a historical group in Philadelphia and she would not want to move. So his name was taken off the list. The following day after the meeting Leopold called me and said he understood that his name had been dropped from consideration, and I told him why his name didn’t stay on the list. He said he would like it very much. And I said well you’ve got a problem because as I understand it you had accepted a position as a professor at Hopkins, and they had you in their program and then you didn’t do it and then you and accepted a job as president of [unintelligible] and declined after your appointment was publicly announced.
Mr. McManus: Yeah.
Dave Weeks: Leopold said no, he would accept the position as Director, NEI. And so I said fine, I told Stein about it and He said Leopold won’t do it he’ll back out. And I said he promised me he would do it. So I arranged to have the offer made to Leopold and he turned it down. And I said how could you do this? How could you turn it down? Then he said that he was going to have to punch a clock and wanted to spend some time in Florida with Eunice. We even got Senator Stennis who was the chairman of the committee who takes care of the historical things in the United States, the monuments and so on to agree to appoint her to the National Committee. He still wouldn’t do it. So I went in and I told Stein, and Stein said, well, I told you so. Then he suggested Dr. Philips Tygeson and the next fellow on the list was Tygeson.
Mr. McManus: And were you talking to anybody at NIH at that time. Because when we talked to John Sherman who was Deputy Director a little bit later, because that was NIH—NIH once the Bill was passed said okay, we’re going to make this the best Institute possible, which is nice to hear. We heard that from both Kennedy and John Sherman.
Dave Weeks: I don’t recall talking to anyone.
Mr. McManus: But he, Sherman went, he went down and talked to Maumenee and maybe Bill Conners on his yacht down in Ft. Lauderdale and later on Carl’s name came up. But you were talking about Tygeson.
Dave Weeks: Well I said Phil Tygeson is 68 years old and he’s not going to want to do this and Stein said, no, he’ll do it, he’ll do it. And I said but they’re not going to allow him to under government policy if you hired somebody they had to guarantee a certain tenure as I recall?
Mr. McManus: Yes.
Dave Weeks: Well I think Phil figured he wouldn’t have a chance anyway so he could say yes to Stein and it wouldn’t work out. Stein said that he would arrange to have a Bill introduced in Congress (McManus laughing) which would give him a waiver.
Mr. McManus: I never knew that.
Dave Weeks: Then at that point, at that point, Phil freaked out. Well you know I figured Phil’s going to live a long time and he has or did. His mother who about 98 years old and was parading in San Francisco carrying a banner, “Ban the Bomb” you know so…
Mr. McManus: Now did Stein have another lobbyist for the motion picture stuff that he used for this NEI Bill or did he use you guys only to do it?
Dave Weeks: MCA had one but he was not—he wasn’t worth fooling with. He didn’t have the right Congressional connections for our purposes.
Mr. McManus: Right.
Dave Weeks: So it was principally right out of my office, you know? When Stein—when Congress passed the Bill there was a suggestion that Johnson wouldn’t sign it.
Mr. McManus: Yeah.
Dave Weeks: And Stein flew down to Austin with who was the then Chairman of the New York State democrat party. And I think it was the result of their persuasion that Johnson did sign it.
Mr. McManus: Who was the Texan? Was it a Texan? Was this fellow, no this fellow wouldn’t have been a Texan.
Dave Weeks: No, he was a New Yorker.
Mr. McManus: Because Newell says that there was a Texan friend of Steins who interceded, but okay.
Dave Weeks: That could be but that was something that I did not know.
Mr. McManus: I doubt that he knew anything that you didn’t.
Dave Weeks: Um…
Mr. McManus: So who did your version?
Dave Weeks: I can’t remember the New York fellow’s name it was Edward somebody.
Mr. McManus: I’ll look him up. Not Wayman?
Dave Weeks: No—the State Democrat Chairman had no connection with RPB at all. I’m sure he had to have had a connection with Stein because of political links to him.
Mr. McManus: Yeah, yeah. But that was very, very important. I had that—I mean that’s going to be one of the…I mean everything before was important but it would have all been for naught.
Dave Weeks: Yeah, back to Tygeson, Tygeson. He refused the job and I went back in to Stein and said well you made a mistake (laughter).
Mr. McManus: I’m sure Stein said more than that to you (laughter).
Dave Weeks: The uh, again.
Ms. Weeks: They had a nice relationship it was more of a father-son relationship.
Mr. McManus: Oh good.
Dave Weeks: It was the sort of relationship if you wanted to do something he’d say what do you want to do? And you’d better know just exactly how you were going to do it because he would say do it and then you were expected to. But he was very supportive.
Mr. McManus: Well, he should have been. I mean, I didn’t realize you did legislation and everything else and wrote all those speeches for everybody, I should have known, I knew somebody did it (laughter). And it wasn’t the ophthalmologists I know—I’ve been around enough to know that.
Mr. McManus: Like something flew? You know one of the other things that I was—I wanted to really underscore was about how much RPB did to create the NEI but I wanted to say something like, they spent millions or they did this or they did that. But I don’t know exactly what I should say. There were a lot of resources that went into what RPB did to create the NEI, right?
Dave Weeks: Not a lot of money.
Mr. McManus: But a lot of your time and other people’s time that went into it.
Dave Weeks: I went down to Washington on a regular basis. I’d fly out of New York and I’d get like a 6:00 flight in the morning and be down there by 9:00. And get a 4:30 or 5:00 flight back to New York.
Mr. McManus: Betty remembers those days… (laughter).
Dave Weeks: Worked down there about 30 days out of the year really—30 working days which was a lot of time…
Mr. McManus: A lot of time, and don’t I know. And I think it was Tom Kennedy who was the head of planning at NIH at that time and he was really one of the idea guys for Shannon and he said, you know, “Well, Stein was down there (it’s interesting to hear these old NIH’ers talk, I’ll have to send you the transcripts from those guys because you’ll enjoy it. And he said, you know he would be trotting all these people around in buses and he had Roger Stevens. You know Roger Stevens ran, I don’t know—he was a big entertainment guy. I know he ran the Kennedy Center at one time later. But did you, do you remember running into Roger Stevens or was that just a –mythology that grew up around this. [Note from Dave Weeks: “This must be related to MCA’s tour which had no relationship to our quest for an Eye Institute.”]
Dave Weeks: No.
Ms. Weeks: Especially with this guy cause he’s so quiet nobody would know about these things that’s why I want him to start doing this and put on tape.
Mr. McManus: Yes. Exactly... Exactly... I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve learned. One other thing is that I’ve learned a lot. You think I’ve been around and you think you know but you don’t really know.
Dave Weeks: Well the interesting thing was after we had the five or six chairmen in New York for that meeting, we then had another meeting in Washington with Colonel Quinn…
Mr. McManus: I know about that.
Dave Weeks: When we were preparing testimony to be presented before the I & FC Committees—Quinn said all of you fellows are like my trained dogs. He said I’ll tell you what to do and you do it.
Mr. McManus: See, I remember those—I remember those kinds of stories. That’s what I was trying to get to earlier.
Dave Weeks: I remember later Cogan sent a note saying he hoped his dogs worked okay (laughter). But Quinn did take the Bill and walked it—from one House to the other and they were both passed on the same day by a voice vote. I’ve heard was rather unusual.
Mr. McManus: Yeah because Newell says that by some mysterious action the Bill which had sat for a while from the last day of the year. And you’re saying you know, Quinn did—that’s… And so you came down got Quinn…
Dave Weeks: Quinn actually took it from me.
Mr. McManus: But did you have a big meeting and say this isn’t going anywhere and we’ve got to…
Dave Weeks: Well, we were concerned about it but I don’t recall…
Mr. McManus: Okay, now what about this list of 26 ophthalmologists as candidates for Director, NEI?
Dave Weeks: The…there was some suggestion that Marv Sears might be a good candidate and Marv indicated that he might be interested—I don’t recall talking directly to Marv about this but I called each one of the members who were to testify and said what do you think? And they were pretty unanimous in their opinion that he would not be appropriate. Matter of fact they thought he was very abrasive in capital letters. Someone told me that Carl was—might be having some difficulty in Washington, the State of Washington and that he might be interested in leaving. And I called Carl and said would you be interested in this position.
Mr. McManus: Oh, you called him?
Dave Weeks: And he said yes, he would be interested and I said all right. At this point I was desperate.
Mr. McManus: Yeah, because they would have done—NIH would have folded this to NIH in some other way. I mean if you didn’t have the Director hired because a new institute was in jeopardy that was clear from Sherman and Kennedy.
Dave Weeks: I’d had a lot of conversation with Tom Duane and I said Tom you ought to take the job.
Mr. McManus: Yeah.
Dave Weeks: But Tom never…
Mr. McManus: He would have lasted 10 minutes in the office. He’s a great guy but he’s said it the way it was.
Dave Weeks: Yeah, shot from the hip all the time. I really abused Tom during the course—during that report…
Mr. McManus: He was an extremely competent guy.
Dave Weeks: But anyway, Carl said he would take the job. I don’t think we talked to Washington but I know I called somebody down there and said he would accept. And I’m glad it went that way.
Mr. McManus: And then the Institute got started and everything and Stein was on the Council but that didn’t work out or did it?
Dave Weeks: Yes he did.
Mr. McManus: He was on the Council, I didn’t—I mean I didn’t know if he came to meetings or I just don’t see much history. I read some of the Council minutes...
Dave Weeks: He went to some but I’m not sure how many he went to.
Mr. McManus: Yeah.
Dave Weeks: Quinn—you know interestingly—Quinn had an interesting relationship with the people on the Appropriations committees because they would send the testimony to Quinn to be edited and he would make changes in it. And I know on one occasion I went down with Stein when he testified and I remember on one occasion just what the quote is, but he said something to the effect that he hadn’t always been so honorable but now I’ll accept the honor because I have money or something like that. And I told Quinn you know that comment shouldn’t be in the record and he said don’t worry about it I’ll take it out—which he did.
Mr. McManus: You don’t usually see that. We would get the testimony back from whatever we had said in Congressional testimony but not the citizen’s kinds of stuff. So usually they reserve that for the government lobbyists to have that kind of influence.
Dave Weeks: Well Quinn did the—Fogarty was an Irishman and Quinn ran the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. So, he had Fogarty right…(laughter).
Mr. McManus: Right, right, okay—that’s what I was looking for.
Dave Weeks: Fogarty was a brick layer.
Mr. McManus: Right, right, right.
Dave Weeks: And Hill, I don’t know that Hill was terribly enamored with Quinn because he was so crude.
Mr. McManus: But Maumenee was from his home town.
Dave Weeks: Yeah, they were both from Alabama.
Mr. McManus: Yeah. I think their families were from the same area. That was one of the things that came out in my research. Let me see, a big question left is who was the Texas friend of Stein’s who convinced Johnson to sign the legislation and it turns out he was the head of the democratic party in New York. That’s funny to see how Newell did a good job but some of these things he didn’t know, it’s a lot of mythology.
Dave Weeks: A lot of people say they were doing things when they really weren’t doing very much.
Mr. McManus: Yeah, exactly. That’s why who were the ophthalmologists doing what? And so the two guys that I think deserve credit above and beyond are Cogan for his intellectual contributions. He started the idea he sent you that letter and Maumenee.
Dave Weeks: There was a fellow who we had no connection with who testified and I think it was he that got the Lions involved. There was quite a bit of correspondence from the Lions.
Mr. McManus: Who, Ralph Ryan?
Dave Weeks: Oh it was Ralph Ryan? It was Ralph Ryan.
Mr. McManus: I though Ralph I think deserves it because he got 100,000 letters from the Lions.
Dave Weeks: RPB generated a lot of comments and letters from ophthalmologists and people on the scientific end but I didn’t focus on the Lions at all.
Mr. McManus: But Staggers said he wants to hear from the public, and I have that quote. He wants to hear—he’s heard from the ophthalmologists, he’s heard from the scientists, he’s heard from the government he wants to hear from the people and they got a 100,000 letters but still the Bill sat around until the last day came and like all a lot of other things it passed. I mean creating a law that gets passed in the Congress is one of the hardest things that you can do and if they hadn’t gone down at that last moment and convinced Johnson to sign it, it would never have become law. And Newell kind of dismisses it as a big mystery that happened. And that’s very important that I have the real story.
Dave Weeks: Well Mary, Mary was a very quiet influence from behind the scenes—I don’t know exactly what Mary did as far as her contributions were concerned but my impression was that she gave to the key Congressmen on the Appropriations committees about $500 each year which wasn’t enough to create a problem where people would focus on her but it was, it gave her the entrée, when she called she got the chance to talk to the Congressmen or the Senators. She didn’t have to talk to an aide.
Mr. McManus: Do you know if she did that a lot…
Dave Weeks: Yes, she did.
Mr. McManus: On behalf of the Eye Institute?
Dave Weeks: I thought Mary was kind of a dilettante and I remembered at one of our meetings I raised some questions on what the other institutes were doing. And I knew what they were doing and I didn’t think she would. And she reached in her purse and she picked out a little onion skin packet, and when she started opening it up, it opened up until it was a piece of paper of about 16 X 12 inches wide and it had everything that every institute had done since the beginning.
Mr. McManus: Yeah, I know how she works and I sort of had the same kind of impression but I had the opportunity to talk with her a few times—and Mrs. Mahoney [Florence Mahoney] who started the Aging Institute. I mean those ladies were spectacular—what a nice sideline to get interested in and have the historical impact that they had.
Dave Weeks: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And she was a real influence.
Mr. McManus: Her oral history is at Columbia and if I really get as serious as I should be about this I should go down and read the whole thing and see what she says. I’m sure she says some stuff about what she did in New York.
Dave Weeks: She never gave RPB a penny but Jules said that he didn’t want her to give any money. He said he wanted her influence, I don’t need her money.
Mr. McManus: Absolutely.
Dave Weeks: This is kind of a side bar, you mentioned Tanny Pollster. Quinn was so brusque that he scared the hell out of everybody down there. Quinn had such a commanding presence but it was hard for Tanny to get legislators attention, he was just a sweet fellow. But Betty reminded me that when we were talking that there might be a chance of getting construction money for NEI. I talked to Maumenee about it and Maumenee said it would be a very good idea. Pete Williams the Senator from New Jersey’s wife was being treated by Maumenee. And he asked me if I would arrange to have him come over and see Pete Williams to see if we could get that moving through that Senate Committee. And Staggers who I think I mentioned had a metal chip in his eye that Maumenee had taken care of and then he said we can see Staggers later. So we went down to Washington, I met Maumenee there and we went over to see Williams and who said he saw no problem. I don’t know if William was Chairman or not, he must have been Chairman. Or maybe Kennedy was but Kennedy was opposed to be giving this money for construction. When we came back from that meeting which was very positive, I talked to Maumenee about going ahead with the meeting with Staggers and he said don’t do it. He said Carl Kupfer doesn’t want it. And I said, why would Carl not want it? And he said he just doesn’t want to have to bother with it. And Kennedy’s was opposed to it and he said Williams has indicated that he was really no longer interested. And I said what do we do with the meeting with Staggers, which was set for the following Thursday? And he said cancel it. And so I called. We had a meeting scheduled for 3:00 that Thursday afternoon with Staggers. I called Tanny and told him and I argued with Maumenee, I said we’ve got this if we want it and Maumenee said no I don’t want to do it. So he asked me to call Staggers and cancel the appointment. So I called Tanny and I said call Congressman Staggers and tell him why we can’t do it. Well at 4 or 5:00 pm on Thursday Staggers called my office and said where was Dr. Maumenee? And I said well we cancelled the appointment and he said well nobody called me. Well, can you imagine a Congressman calling somebody and asking why they didn’t show up? The only reason he did was because of his relationship he had with Maumenee.
Dave Weeks: And I said well you know we can’t do it. Williams isn’t interested and the Senate doesn’t seem to be interested and he said I think we can do it. He said I’ll send you some stuff and you can rewrite it and I’ll introduce it. So I checked it out and wrote the legislation and sent it down him. And his committee was meeting on such and such a date and he didn’t introduce it and I called him and said, what happened? And he said well, I didn’t like the language you used. He said, I want to have my legislative aide rewrite it and he didn’t have time to do it. So, he said don’t worry we’ll attach to some other legislation. He said we have a Social Security Bill that’s coming through in about three weeks and he said I’ll add it to that as an amendment. And he said you’ll have an advantage because both the Heart and the Cancer Institute have Bureau status and they have to come back every five years to get that approved. And the NEI would not have to do so.
Mr. McManus: I would never—if we had authorization to continue forever and that’s why I never wanted it touched. I did not want to have to come back every five years.
Dave Weeks: So, he introduced it and it was passed.
Mr. McManus: Yeah, yeah. And that went to conference and went through.
Dave Weeks: We had about…
Ms. Weeks: Kind of scary wasn’t it?
Dave Weeks: Oh I’m sure.
Mr. McManus: The only other two institutes who had this kind of authority were Heart and Cancer. The thing that I thought was if we could get it I knew this would give me more clout with the other institutes and increase the status of the NEI.
Dave Weeks: Sure, sure.
Mr. McManus: I wanted it for that reason and I gave Tanny legislative language that was okay with Dr. Kupfer. I could have stopped the other language with Terry Lierman who was staff on the committee in the Senate.
Dave Weeks: Oh yeah.
Mr. McManus: It was a more a major concern that Carl had and I would have too—gee, we don’t want anybody changing our legislation but Tanny as you know, he was very good with this so he let me write the legislation, and I felt comfortable with it you know. But the major concern was that okay, if money for this construction authority come out of the regular budget or can additional money be added just for this item I always said take a gamble. I felt we could always say hey we have this one other program you’ve got to give us some extra money. If you don’t take a chance on these things you’ll never get anywhere. And basically construction never, never came out of it.
Dave Weeks: There wasn’t much money actually for construction and after a couple of years it evaporated.
Mr. McManus: No because we—if they didn’t spent certain set aside money we didn’t push it, but it gave us lots of visibility.
Dave Weeks: But there was a Senator by the name of Andrews in the Dakotas’ in one of the Dakota’s.
Mr. McManus: Yes.
Dave Weeks: Who got really upset because the NEI wasn’t getting construction money committed fast enough?
Mr. McManus: It was, he was upset because the Senate had appropriated like $5 million and the House had appropriated none. I probably don’t remember right, but it was something like that. And the conference committee didn’t say anything to resolve this. They just said you have this much money, do everything you’ve been told to do and so we did $2 ½ million or something like that. He wanted to know why we didn’t do $5 million and he took us to the woodshed because we did not fund the whole thing.
Dave Weeks: That was interesting.
Ms. Weeks: So what happened to that money, did you give it back?
Mr. McManus: We did like another million or something and didn’t do the whole thing but enough that he was satisfied.
Dave Weeks: I never knew him but I admired him because he had no medical school in his state and no reason to do it for his constituents.
Mr. McManus: Let’s see, I was going to ask you about your role on Council. You were on Council and then the Accomplishments of the NEI. Were you?
Dave Weeks: Gee, there’s so many of them.
Mr. McManus: In a kind of a broad sense, I mean I would say how about research in ophthalmology and where the departments of ophthalmology have changed because of the fact that they were so involved in research.
Dave Weeks: You know there’s no doubt in my mind that ophthalmic research wouldn’t be any place without the NEI. When you think when the RPB was created in 1960 if you had a cataract operation you were in a hospital for maybe two weeks with sand bags on each side of your head. It’s an office procedure now.
Mr. McManus: I would take a guy like Stuart Fine. He never would have gotten a laboratory grant in his life.
Dave Weeks: Really?
Mr. McManus: Never would have gotten…he is one of the major funded guys in the world in all of biomedicine because of the clinical trials program at the NEI.
Dave Weeks: And he’s become a tremendous influence in ophthalmic research in the United States too.
Mr. McManus: And he would have not existed. He would not have been funded at Hopkins for his first macular degeneration trial because NIH didn’t do clinical trials.
Dave Weeks: But in those—you know when RPB was started we were giving I think $5,000 a year but it wasn’t schools.
Mr. McManus: But you had a lot of people that you started who would dare to take chances and then be developed into full fledged clinical researchers.
Dave Weeks: They used RPBs unrestricted money to do some research experimentation which they might not have been able to get any eye support for. But once they’ve established that then they could go in and get a big grant. It’s been a starter sort of for them.
Mr. McManus: Our historian who is—looks at all this material and approves it all, and I was doing the program planning chapter and—no the beginnings chapter and she was wondering why—I guess it was program planning. And when I interviewed with the Associate Director of NIH for Program Planning in 1969, he said NIH does not do planning. We don’t plan, the scientist knows what’s best and we give him the money and he does what he thinks is best. But we at NEI did strategic planning and the ophthalmologists jumped right in and did it and our history consultant wondered what makes this group of people—when none of the other medical people want anything to do with planning. What makes this group interested and active in Program Planning? Do you have an opinion on this?
Dave Weeks: I think that 5-year plan is just excellent. It provided a road map to be followed.
Mr. McManus: But why did the ophthalmologists, the academic ophthalmologists be so amenable to planning. Duane was the head of one of the Council planning efforts. What sets them apart from other medical people who you couldn’t get interested in program or strategic planning?
Dave Weeks: That I don’t know
Mr. McManus: I have a theory and let’s see what you think about it and that is, they are good business men and so good planning is a part of good business and I think that’s part of it. And it’s probably more important that these guys (ophthalmologists) had ripped out the eye research from the NIH against great opposition. And then once they had an institute they weren’t sure that all of the money wouldn’t go to laboratory scientists rather than clinical scientists. So the ophthalmologists wanted a good clinical research supported and the way to do it was set priorities, set objectives, goals and I think that’s why they latched on to program planning because they could do the clinical research roadmap and would dictate clinical research program priorities in the plans.
Dave Weeks: I’m sure it does. Well, you know I never known very many ophthalmologic department chairmen that I would consider dynamic but mostly really sensitive and very artistic. And there aren’t very many good administrators among them. There are, I don’t mean to….
Mr. McManus: No, to down grade them right? They’re good scientists and artists and…
Ms. Weeks: Yeah, I think the work is so has to be so accurate and is so minute that it holds an interest of the person more than.
Mr. McManus: Especially today.
Dave Weeks: As opposed to the general surgeons. General Surgeons just charge right in (laughter).
Ms. Weeks: I noticed that when I first started going to all the meetings with David. The meetings…they just were really very thoughtful people.
Dave Weeks: Quiet, sensitive people for the most part.
Mr. McManus: And so if you can sit down and do a road map, it must be orderly… But the rest of NIH hated planning. But now of course it’s a big thing and its one of the in things with the new NIH Director.
Dave Weeks: But you led the way, you led the way.
Mr. McManus: Yeah, but that was my thing and Carl wanted priorities. He was a hard man, a hard manager and he wanted to know what’s the priority and why and I agreed with it. So the strategic planning was able to do that.
Dave Weeks: I think Carl’s done an excellent job. I used to follow Carl speaking at AUPO meetings and he was always sort of saying things are going to hell and I kept saying things are going to be happier (laughter).
Mr. McManus: You were right.
Dave Weeks: Well, they were always a little bit happier.
Mr. McManus: No, you were right, you were right.
Dave Weeks: I know a couple of meetings I thought he might be lynched (laughter).
Mr. McManus: I remember that Tom Duane. My first meeting at the AUPO was hot and Tom Duane was the cause of it. Later on we became fast friends and I really respected him and liked him. But I’d only been at the NEI a month and the meeting was in Washington. I don’t have much of a historical association but I knew exactly where the meeting was, it was at the Mayflower Hotel.
Dave Weeks: Hotel?
Mr. McManus: Hotel in the back of the room that he caught us. And he was mad. Later on he became part of the Council, we put him on the Council. And he became chief of the program planning effort and did a great job. He went out and wrote an editorial in one of the major journals and asked for the input of practicing ophthalmologists and what were the priorities they had. What a great idea, it opened us up to a lot of comments.
Dave Weeks: Well, you know I had some contentions with Carl and I started encouraging ophthalmologic department heads I positioned on the Council to shake things up at the NEI. And for example, Tom was one of them. And Bill Hurst was treasurer of RPB and on our board and I suggested one day that we ought to get some other people on the Council and we would do better and he said who would you suggest and I said Tom Duane. And who had done the survey for RPB.
Mr. McManus: Right, right.
Dave Weeks: Tom called me a couple of weeks later and he said who in the hell is Magnuson and I said he’s Chairman of the Senate Committee and he said his office called and they want me to be on the Eye Council. So I check it through and found that when Bill Hurst had left our meeting, he called Magnuson—and than that’s how Tom got appointed.
Mr. McManus: And then Steve Ryan probably came on as one of your candidates—and Steve has been, in the end, it has been really good because they became part of the process and they made big contributions.
Dave Weeks: Well you won them over. You won them all over.
Mr. McManus: I, I—you know, I think it was a mutual—we both won each over.
Dave Weeks: Yeah.
Mr. McManus: I mean we’ve changed. But, but, you know in government organizations, the idea—when I try to explain this to our historian that we have this Council, the National Advisory Eye Council, it was so important. It was not like a Board of Directors because it didn’t have a lot of authority but they still had a certain say in the direction of the institute. Government organizations don’t work this way. And that’s what makes…that really is what makes NIH good is because of it.
Dave Weeks: You know part of Carl’s contention with the AUPO people was about training. He used to come to these meetings and he’d state these things as if they were his position, that training should be deemphasized and you shouldn’t get money. It would have been so easy for him to say look I want to do this but I’ve got problems, I’m being squeezed.
Mr. McManus: Is there anything else that you wanted to add about what you think that eh...
Dave Weeks: You don’t really don’t want to cover this Adams thing do you?
Mr. McManus: No.
Dave Weeks: Okay (laughter).
Mr. McManus: We won’t ask him. Carl knows the Adams thing very well (laughter). Trocal?
Dave Weeks: Oh yeah I talked to both Trocal and Mel and they don’t even remember this.
Ms. Weeks: The wiped it out of their memory.
Dave Weeks: I guess they didn’t want to think about it. They evaporated like wisps of smoke (laughter).
Ms. Weeks: What about the story about—of course this has nothing to do with the Eye Institute—but when you talking about Tom, I thought about a last wonderful, wonderful thing he did.
Mr. McManus: Well, remember this will be an oral history too. And will be in the files of NIH. So somebody when they’re going back some day yeah, put whatever you…
Ms. Weeks: Well this happened at an AUPO meeting in San Diego when Dr. Stein was being honored at that meeting. And they got the speaker who was a psychologists I think, and he had a patient whose son, this woman was quite heart-broken because she had a son who was…
Dave Weeks: He committed suicide didn’t he?
Ms. Weeks: He committed suicide because he was in training. He was an intern to become an eye doctor. And she claimed that they had been the whole academic theory that eye doctors were so unkind to their students and they just made them so under pressure this is why her son committed suicide. So this guy was going on and he was really getting very—getting the doctors’ very angry. And at one point he said let’s just all relax. He said let’s let it all hang out, then he unzipped his trousers. And here was Dr. Stein sitting there and Fritz Fraunfelder was president that year and I never seen Fritz when he wasn’t laughing…
Mr. McManus: Exactly, he’s a jokester.
Ms. Weeks: But anyway, you could see he’s got such tension in that room. Fred Blodi was just about ready to hit the ceiling and you call him Charles….
Dave Weeks: Well a lawyer in the audience said you people shouldn’t lie to your patients.
Ms. Weeks: A lawyer who said this that you shouldn’t lie. And Tom said we don’t get paid for lying like you do. Everybody went into hysterics.
Mr. McManus: Oh my God…
Dave Weeks: A lot of argumentative comments followed. They’re been a lot of talking about it. People’s nerves were being frayed at this point. Betty finally raised her hand—he was taking questions from the audience—and I said, oh my God what’s she going to come up with. And he called on her and she said do you mind if I go to the lady’s room.
Ms. Weeks: I knew I had to do something and you know…
Mr. McManus: She defused it.
Ms. Weeks: That was a time when I really prayed and I said, dear God what do I do? And I did, and…
Dave Weeks: The room just exploded.
Ms. Weeks: And it broke the meeting up, so that was the end of that horrible meeting.
Mr. McManus: I know, just to go back a little bit. There was a meeting in Chicago in the early days maybe with the AUPO to do some of the planning for the NEI do you remember that at the airport or there was a snow?
Dave Weeks: There was supposed to be a meeting at the airport, I was unaware of it. There was a meeting—the first meeting, we had a—was a, not the Academy…
Mr. McManus: The AUPO?
Dave Weeks: The major medical meeting, what is it?
Mr. McManus: The AMA.
Dave Weeks: It was in New York if I recall. It used to have a section of ophthalmology.
Mr. McManus: Right.
Dave Weeks: Maumenee had a meeting in the Barkley Hotel, I remember, I was up there with all these five guys in the room sitting on the bed talking about it. Now that’s the first meeting I recall.
Mr. McManus: Right. Who was there?
Dave Weeks: That would be Cogan and Maumenee and Hogan, Mike Hogan. I don’t think Brad was there.
Ms. Weeks: Frank Newell?
Dave Weeks: Frank Newell obviously would be there.
Mr. McManus: Yeah, Newell is the one that was in the record I saw.
Dave Weeks: Yeah, yeah.
Mr. McManus: Well I think…
Dave Weeks: Newell testified. They had—you know when they started the AUPO, if you look at the first five presidents they all testified.
Mr. McManus: Right, right. Well that’s all I have Dave and Betty. Thank you very much and if there’s anything else you know that you want to add let us know.
Dave Weeks: Okay.
Mr. McManus: Thank you very much.
End of Interview