Committee for Medical Research
As noted above, the CMR was a subdivision of the OSRD. President Roosevelt
created the OSRD and its subdivisions via Executive Order 8807 on June
28, 1941. This order established the OSRD within the Office for Emergency
Management " '
to assure adequate provision for research on
scientific and medical problems relating to the national defense' "
(Hobby, 92). Although the OSRD, and later the WPB as well, coordinated
penicillin research and production efforts, it appears that these agencies
were not founded with this specific purpose in mind or due to Florey's
visit. Rather, it seems that they were created because of the probability
that the U.S. would be drawn into WWII and to prepare for the scientific
and medical ramifications associated with such involvement (Hobby, 92).
[In terms of the OSRD's creation, Hobby, 276, note 8, cites the Introduction
to the Preliminary Inventory, NC-138, TRG 227, from the National Archives,
and the Executive Order is reproduced in Irvin Stewart's Organizing Scientific
Research for War, which I have given to Erin to scan-we have this].
Roosevelt appointed Vannevar Bush, an MIT engineer who had served as
the head of the National Defense Research Committee, director of the OSRD
(Swann, 157). As director, Bush was authorized to create advisory committees
he felt were necessary and to "
enter into contracts with individuals,
educational [and scientific] institutions [such as the National Academy
of Sciences and the NRC], industrial concerns, and any other agencies
for research purposes" (Swann, 158). Such contracts included the
above-mentioned one with the Bradley Polytechnic Institute and a February
1943 contract with pharmaceutical companies producing penicillin. Through
the latter contract, formed on CMR recommendation, the OSRD agreed to
pay penicillin producers $200 per million units (Richards, 442). They
revised this agreement over the next three years as production increased,
resulting in $6 per million units in 1945 as penicillin prices were slashed
(Richards, 442). In addition to contract arrangements, the OSRD supported
research of countries whose defense the President deemed vital
to the U.S
." and functioned as a liaison office for exchange
between such countries and the U.S. (Swann, 158). The OSRD thus "
as a center for the mobilization of scientific personnel and resources
during WWII and coordinated, planned, and aided the research activities
conducted by federal agencies, commercial firms, and research science
(Hobby, 92). [For a chart of penicillin price slashes from July 1943 to
January 1949, see Hobby, 187. For the contracts discussed above, speak
with Erin to see if she might have any of these care of Dr. Lindee. For
more information and potential documents that reveal the OSRD's role in
such collaboration, see Irvin Stewart's Organizing Scientific Research
for War, which I gave to Erin.]
The OSRD's-specifically Bush's-approval was required for the CMR's recommendations
and its implementation of government funds (Richards, 442). As a subdivision
of the larger agency, the CMR was responsible for suggesting to Bush "
need and character of research necessary at the time," and they forwarded
periodic reports to [Bush] on the progress and results of
OSRD-subsidized and OSRD-contracted research" (Swann, 158). In this
way, the CMR worked on behalf of the OSRD to direct research projects,
keeping the OSRD informed of both academic science and commerce's progress
with penicillin. Regarding the OSRD's various contracts, the CMR believed
that the assistance of groups such as the NRC "
the most efficient and comprehensive approach to the administration of
wartime research" (Adams, 1991, 30). [I searched for documents to
show this relationship between the CMR and the OSRD, and the only potential
lead I found is Stewart's chapter on the OSRD in Organizing Scientific
Research for War.]
In fact, the CMR itself was comprised of members who had affiliations with several of these agencies as well as with educational institutions and the armed forces. Specifically, Roosevelt selected A. N. Richards, professor of pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania, to serve as the CMR's chairman. The vice-chairman was Lewis H. Weed of Johns Hopkins and the NRC (chairman of its Division of Medical Sciences), and other civilian members included Alphonse R. Dochez of Columbia University and A. Baird Hastings of Harvard University. Brigadier General James S. Simmons and Rear Admiral Harold W. Smith were also CMR members, as well as L. R. Thompson of the U.S. Public Health Service, who was later replaced by R. E. Dyer, and the CMR's executive secretary, Irvin Stewart (Hobby, 92-93). The diversity of the group reveals the level of collaboration both among government agencies and between the government and commercial and academic organizations. [For a listing of these members, noted by Hobby, 92-93, note 9, see Andrus, et al., xi-xvii. These pages are found in Volume 1; however, I have only Volume 2 in my possession, but Penn Library has Volume 1 in storage (see my secondary sources bibliography). Perhaps we can find a picture of the Committee members as well?]
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