Dr. Claude Lenfant Oral History 1999
Dr. Claude Lenfant Oral History Transcript
Conducted by: Dr. W. Bruce Fye
December 8, 1999
This is the third in a series of oral history interviews with Dr. Claude Lenfant, Director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, on 8 December 1999, in Bethesda, Maryland. The interviewer is Dr. W. Bruce Fye.
LENFANT: I think the National Heart Institute became the National Heart and Lung Institute at the end of 1969. That was a decision made by the Secretary [of Health, Education, and Welfare]. Already in those days the “disease of the month” existed and there was lots of pressure on the part of the American Lung Association to create a lung institute. Of course, [Theodore] Cooper got involved with that. He said, and I think rightfully so, that it makes no sense to have a lung institute when we have a heart institute, and why don’t we make the lung a component of the National Heart Institute. So they renamed the Institute. This happened at the end of 1969, and it was then that Cooper began trying to find out what all the people who wanted to have a lung institute really wanted to see done. This is when he sent a letter to all the heads of the divisions of lung disease in the country.
LENFANT: So he was the first director of that division, and by then Jim Wyngaarden was the Director of the NIH. I was pretty mad actually when they took Bill away from me, but Jim took him away to create the Office of Prevention in the Office of the Director. Bill was in the Corps and he had hoped that he would get a flag rank, but he never got it so he finally left the NIH to become the Medical Director of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Bill was followed by [William] Bill Harlan. Bill Harlan too was taken away from me by Bernadine Healy after Bill Friedewald left his position in the Office of the NIH Director to take the position at Metropolitan. So I went for a third director who is Larry Friedman, whom we mentioned earlier. However, Larry Friedman is stepping down now so I will have to replace him.
This is the continuation of the third oral history interview with Dr. Claude Lenfant, Director of NHLBI, on 8 December 1999, in Bethesda, Maryland. The interviewer is Dr. W. Bruce Fye.
LENFANT: Who created the methodology for clinical trials.
FYE: Well, this has been another incredible interview.