Letters and E-mail

Research Reports
Dear Editor,
I am not surprised at Dr. Terry's finding of a 26 percent lower risk of receptor positive breast cancer in women who take aspirin regularly (Research Reports, Fall 2004 issue). During five months of a research elective between my third and fourth years at P&S (1964) in the laboratory of M.C. Shellesnyak'38, I was able to almost completely abolish the capillary permeability changes in the early hours of nidation in reaction to the invading blastocyst by giving the rat aspirin three days before. The resultant deciduomata were very much smaller.
It was Prof. Shellesnyak's insight (because he was an M.D., I think) that the explosion of decidual cells resembled cancer under the microscope. I published the finding years later (Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 22, in 1971) when I was encouraged to do so by J.M. Bedford, Ph.D., when he was at the Department of Anatomy at P&S. This P&S-funded discovery derived from two P&S graduates has never been picked up directly by medical science. Dr. Terry's finding is a shadow of it (Plato). Perhaps Dr. Terry can pick up the "fumble" and run with it or cause others in the P&S family to do so. It could be a career in science. I did not pursue it because I wanted to be an in-the-trenches clinician. Vox clamantis in deserto.

Faculty Remembered
Dear Editor,
In his usual astute way, Nicholas P. Christy'51 in "Faculty Remembered" (Fall 2004), captured poignantly the all-too-brief life of Joseph W. Jailer'43. In my judgment, however, Dr. Christy engaged in euphemism when he wrote in regard to Jailer and the mentality of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center a half century ago thus: "Columbia in those days was quite Ivy League. Many department heads were Ivy Leaguers. Jailer felt a little out of place, especially since he was unable to obtain an appointment in Medicine, which was what he wanted and was best trained for. He had to settle for a junior faculty rank in ob/gyn. At the time of his death 13 years later he still held only a clinical appointment as associate professor of clinical medicine..."
In fact, Jailer was denied the appointment that he deserved because he was a Jew. Anti-Semitism was rife at Columbia University in those days and especially at the College of Physicians & Surgeons. It was a repressive quota on Jews at the medical school that, in large measure, prompted the suit of Goldstein v. Mills et al. (Trustees of Columbia University in City of New York, Sept. 13, 1945). Goldstein charged Columbia with discrimination in regard to race, color, or creed by using a quota system for admitting students. The Goldstein decision had an impact because, to the great credit of Columbia, by the time that my class was admitted to P&S, admission was based on merit.
It might be worthwhile, in the spirit of "Faculty Remembered," to have a piece in P&S devoted to "P&S Remembered" concerning the history of Jews in the context of the history of the medical school and medical center. Not only would that be fascinating but it would be a tribute to Columbia that, at last, could harken to its own best instincts as the great university that it is.

P&S Journal is always interested in ideas for articles. We will research this part of the school’s history and consider an article for a future issue. — Editor

Robert Coles
Dear Editor,
I'm employed as an office manager with the Department of Surgery at Columbia. I read Peter Wortsman's article on Dr. Robert Coles. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I thank you for introducing me to such a phenomenal, selfless human being. I look forward to reading future articles.

Presbyterian Hospital History Revisited
Dear Editor,
I noted your article titled "The Hospital: Moving to the Medical Center Expanded its Mission" by Eric Oatman (Fall 2003 "CPMC at 75" issue). As a former employee (25 years) it was delightful to be reminded of the rich history of Presbyterian Hospital and its relationship to P&S.
I would be remiss, however, if I failed to correct some aspects of the article which I found to be inaccurate. I refer to the reference regarding the presidency of Dr. Felix E. Demartini'46. I had the privilege of serving during this period as the hospital's director of patient, government and community affairs. It was during Dr. Demartini's term that the long-range plan for a replacement inpatient facility as well as a new full service community hospital in Inwood was conceived.
This followed the Priority Projects, which were done actually as a stopgap renovation to address building code issues. Dr. Demartini, along with the executive management team with the full support of the Board of Trustees of the hospital, provided the leadership and oversight during the planning, certificate of need application process, architectural design, bond financing, and early fund-raising for what became known as the Major Modernization Program.
I was proud to assist Dr. Demartini prepare for and participate in the Health System Agency hearing where the recommendation to the Commissioner of Health was made to approve the project. The entire process took over three years.
I congratulate the author and P&S for the article and offer this clarification, as I firmly believe the record of Dr. Demartini's presidency must be documented accurately.

More about Medicine and Music
Dear Editor,
This is a late reaction to the letter from Michael Jacobs'79 about music at P&S. Although there was no organized music, there was indeed music much earlier. In the early 1950s Dr. Hans Clarke, an accomplished clarinetist, and his wife brought together medical musicians for evenings of chamber music at their home on East 68th Street. I had the pleasure of being audience at some of these gatherings, which included Al (Shorty) Groekest on viola, Byron Hardin on piano, Jaraslov (Jerry) Hulka on French horn, and Dr. Clarke. In addition, I recall that Virginia Apgar not only played the violin but built them. I very much believe the music tradition went further back than my memory.

Remembering War
Dear Editor,
Most of my 1953 classmates from P&S were combat veterans of World War II. We are now "celebrating" the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, which was the deadliest battle in the United States history. This battle lasted six weeks, from Dec. 16, 1944, to Jan. 25, 1945. It was the war's largest land battle involving American troops.
Our historians state that there were 19,000 Americans killed during this battle, making it the deadliest battle for us in World War II. There were 600,000 Germans, 500,000 Americans, and 55,000 British forces in this huge battle, which determined the outcome of the war. I mention all of these facts since "those who forget history tend to repeat it," as the saying goes.
I flew as a bombardier in a B-17G with the 351st Bomb Group in the 8th Air Force during this battle. The weather was so bad that the 8th Air Force was unable to fly any missions to support our troops from Dec. 16 until Dec. 24. On Jan. 1, 1945, we flew a mission to Kassel, Germany. Our plane was damaged by anti-aircraft fire, and the waist gunner was badly injured. I was assigned to carry the morphine and I left my bombardier's position in the front of the plane and crawled back with a portable oxygen tank to administer my first "medical care" ever. We were at 30,000 feet above ground at this time. We escaped three Messerschmitt 109's planes who were firing at us by diving into the clouds and made an emergency landing in Brussels, Belgium.
Perhaps my first medical experience at 30,000 feet during this harrowing combat mission was the deciding factor in my choice of following a career in medicine. At least it makes for a good story.

Send Letters to:
Editor, P&S Journal
College of Physicians & Surgeons
630 W. 168th St.
New York, NY 10032
E-mail: psjournal@columbia.edu

| TOP |