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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

HMED Fall Lecture Series: Susan Lindee on September 26th 12:20pm

The Program in the History of Medicine announces the first presentation in its Fall Lunchtime Lecture Series, on Monday, September 26 from 12:20-1:10pm in 555 Diehl Hall. Susan Lindee, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, will present a Charles E. Culpeper Lecture, "Before the Gene: LeRoy Matthews and the Cleveland Comprehensive Treatment Program for Cystic Fibrosis, 1957-1961".

"Before the Gene: LeRoy Matthews and the Cleveland Comprehensive Treatment Program for Cystic Fibrosis, 1957-1961"
In only three years, between 1957 and 1960, the Cleveland Comprehensive Treatment Program for Cystic Fibrosis reduced annual mortality from 10 percent to 2 percent in CF patients being treated there. Early reports of its effects were so incredible that they were considered implausible by others treating CF. After an investigation sponsored by the U.S. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in 1961 the protocol was introduced in the then 31 Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Centers nationwide and annual mortality began to fall nationally. In modified form, the program developed in Cleveland in the late 1950s is still used in the 117 CF Centers in the United States today and in other CF clinics around the world.
The primary architect of this complex therapeutic protocol was LeRoy Matthews, a former radiation safety officer for Pacific bomb tests 1952-54 and former director of the Isotope and Endocrine Laboratory at the US Naval Hospital in San Diego. Lung failure is the most important cause of death in CF patients and Matthews attributed some of his key insights to his understanding of how inhaled radioactive materials moved through smaller airways in the lungs.
In this talk I explore LeRoy Matthews' work, life, and key role in the transformation of Cystic Fibrosis into an adult disease. I explore his struggle to develop the protocol, make it work, and to persuade other clinicians and researchers involved with CF that his results were legitimate--and particularly his ultimately unsuccessful promotion of mist tent therapy in which he passionately believed. Considering the practices that were developed at the Cleveland Cystic Fibrosis Center (which is now named after him, as is a major prize in CF research) I place the story of LeRoy Matthews and the Comprehensive Care Program in the broader context of post-war human genetics, including the legacies of eugenics and the potential of molecular genetics.