SEPTEMBER 16, 1946
HYDE PARK, Sunday—The American Public Health Association sent out a statement a few days ago giving some extraordinarily interesting facts which I think should be underlined for us all.
Each year, about $27,000,000 is spent in this country for industrial research. This is spent because it pays business to spend it. Yet for medical research, which is the only way of saving more human lives, comparatively little money is spent.
The association's statement tells us, for example, that the diseases which took the greatest toll in 1944 were those of the heart and arteries. Next came cancer. One out of every average family of three will probably die from a disease of the heart and arteries. One out of every eight Americans will probably die of cancer, if the present death rate is allowed to continue.
Only through research can we change this, and yet the American Heart Association estimates that only $615,000 was spent in 1944 on research of the heart and arteries. In addition, the life insurance companies have guaranteed $588,000 for this year and for the next four years. This brings the total expended on these diseases, which cause our highest death rate, up to $1,115,000.
The same thing happens, apparently, in many other diseases. So the American Health Association, through Dr. George Baehr, its chairman of the committee on awards, is emphasizing the fact that three awards of $1000 each are going to be offered through the generosity of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. The awards will be for outstanding contributions to research related to diseases which are the most frequent causes of death and disability—such as heart and arteries, arthritis and rheumatism. Another $1000 is offered for an outstanding contribution in the field of public health administration, and a special award of $2500 will be made for an especially important contribution in either field. A little bronze statuette of the Winged Victory will be presented to each winner as a symbol of the contribution which he had made in the fight against disease.
Everyone should be deeply grateful for the awakening of public interest in research which will come through these awards and which will, of course, spur the whole medical profession to emphasize further research and help those who are interested in seeing government also assist research.
A book came out not long ago by Roland Berg, called "The Challenge of Polio." It is in the nature of a report to the people on the research which has been done in this field, in large part through the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, and I think the public would find it interesting.