NOVEMBER 12, 1957
OMAHA, Neb.—I spent last Thursday in Wilkes–Barre, Pennsylvania, at Wilkes College, where the American Association for the U.N. has established one of its college councils. Our state chairman came over from Pennsylvania State University with some of his students and the day was a busy and on the whole satisfactory one for all of us. I hope our college chapter was strengthened and perhaps some new AAUN chapters in the state will be successfully started.
Before leaving New York I went with a friend to an auction at the Parke-Bernet Galleries of modern French paintings from the Georges Lurcy collection. All the people who care about modern French art and have the money to spend on an auction of this kind were present. As I was not buying anything, I enjoyed simply looking at the pictures as they were put up and watching the audience. I had been told in the morning by a gentleman who should know that this was no time to invest money, yet here I saw it being invested in pictures most lavishly. Perhaps when the stock market is uncertain, pictures seem to be something you can enjoy; and though the value may fluctuate, your enjoyment, at least, may remain constant.
On November 7 it was announced that one of the 1957 Albert Lasker Awards will go to Dr. Rustom Vakil of King Edward Memorial Hospital in Bombay, India. He will receive this "Oscar" for his introduction of Rauwolfia as one of the tranquilizing drugs in Western medicine. The story of Rauwolfia is an example of a block in medical communication that in retrospect seems hard to understand. India used this drug in its ancient medicine and modern doctors in India have done research on it since at least 1931. Nevertheless, and in spite of the fact that it was reported in Indian medical journals, Western medicine followed innumerable fruitless leads and overlooked its importance until Dr. Vakil finally focused attention upon it in an historical paper on its use in hypertension which appeared in 1949 in a British heart journal. The American Public Health Association is therefore proud to present this Albert Lasker Award to Dr. Vakil for his part in making this advance in medical science.
Because I was away, I was sorry that I could not be present at the luncheon honoring the doctors who won this year's Albert Lasker Awards. Nine doctors from the U. S., India and France were named, and it always seems to me that we should all know more about the medical advances being made and honor the men who do much to prolong and make life better for all of us. Since the start of the giving of these awards by the foundation, nine Albert Lasker Award winners in the varied areas of medical research and public health have later been honored by being given Nobel Prizes.