Mary Lasker: Medical research doyenne
Mary Woodard Lasker never attended nursing or medical school; she had no medical background or training at all. "Nobody would have me in their laboratory for five minutes," she acknowledged. "I couldn't cut up a frog, and I certainly couldn't perform surgery." Yet, more than any other person, she was responsible for changing the face of medical research in the United States. Dr. Michael DeBakey, a pioneer in heart transplants, said: "Mary Lasker is an institution unto herself. Asking what her importance has been is like asking what Harvard has meant to this country." Mary's interest in medicine dated back to her childhood. She was born in Watertown, Wis., in 1900. As a child, she was very frail and often ill. During one illness, her mother and a friend thought Mary was sleeping, and the friend whispered, "I don't think you'll ever raise her." Mary heard it, and thought to herself, "She's wrong."