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In spring 1974 The New York Post broke the story of the doctor at the prestigious Memorial Sloan-Kettefing Cancer Center who confessed that he had colored the skin grafts of some experimental mice. The ""Summeriin Affair"" was picked up by the major news media and reverberated through the scientific community. Hixson, at one time a public information officer for the Center, writes an inside if somewhat guarded account of who and what and why. Nor is it about the one scientist who got caught faking the data (an event not all that rare nor unnoticed by peer groups). Much larger economic and political issues are involved: the ""war"" on cancer declared by Nixon; the major grants given to institutions rather than to individuals; and the pressure put on everyone down the line to produce (no longer ""publish or perish"" but ""cure or else""). It's a sad story for all concerned. In spite of protests by leaders in the field that you can't mount a crash program to cure a disease the way you can to put a man in space, the normal course of theoretical research and' peer review was altered. The result, ultimately, was waste--of time, money and careers. Hixson's summaries of immunological theory seem to be chiefly addressed to scientists with an occasional parenthetical paraphrase for the lay reader--tough going. But the politics are painfully dear: it is folly to change the compass needle of medical research by a political flip of the finger.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1975
Publisher: Anchor Press/Doubleday