Chapter 08: Working as Adjunct Faculty at Rice University and The University of Texas School of Public Health and Consulting Work with the Southwest Oncology Group

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Chapter 08: Working as Adjunct Faculty at Rice University and The University of Texas School of Public Health and Consulting Work with the Southwest Oncology Group

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In this chapter, Dr. Gehan talks about his adjunct faculty work at Rice University when Dr. James “Jim” R. Thompson was the head of the Department of Statistics, and at The University of Texas School of Public Health’s Department of Biometry. While at the latter, he supervised Lina Asmar’s master's thesis and participated on her Ph.D. committee, which she completed in 1992. Then, he gives an overview of Terry L. Smith’s and his consulting work in the Department of Biostatistics supporting several people/entities, like Dr. Raymond “Ray” Alexanian (Department of Medicine), the Department of Developmental Therapeutics, and while serving as the head statistician of the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG), he mentions work with Dr. Micheal Keating, Dr. Kenneth “Ken” B. McCredie, Dr. Wataru “Wat” Walter Sutoh (pediatrics), Dr. Margaret Patricia “Pat” Sullivan (Intergroup Hodgkin's disease). He talks in detail about Dr. Grant Taylor (Chair of the SWOG), his relationship with President R. Lee Clark, his authoring of the book “Pioneers in Pediatric Oncology” (of which Mr. Gehan’s autobiography is included), and his involvement in the MD Anderson’s purchase of the Prudential building.

Identifier

GehanE_01_20030328_C08

Publication Date

2003

Publisher

The Historical Resources Center, Research Medical Library, The University of Texas Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The Interview Subject's Story - The Educator; The Educator; The Mentor; Critical Perspectives; Contributions; Activities Outside Institution

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

Lesley W. Brunet:

Yes, but I always like to get a supporting opinion. You were here when the medical school was opened in 1971.

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

When did that open?

Lesley W. Brunet:

1971.

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

1981?

Lesley W. Brunet:

1971

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

1971?

Lesley W. Brunet:

I don’t think they had the school back then, but that was the year it started.

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

Yes.

Lesley W. Brunet:

You taught at the medical school in later years, or was that the graduate school?

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

No, I never really taught in the medical school.

Lesley W. Brunet:

At the School of Public Health?

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

I gave lectures there from time to time. I had an adjunct appointment at Rice University, and I think that may be on there. They have a Department of Statistics there; it’s a small department. Dr. Jim Thompson, who was the head, rotated headships, but I think they were interested in expanding the department, so they asked me if I would have an adjunct appointment there, which was fine, but it was mainly a name to be in the catalogue. I did teach one course there on survival analysis in one year, and attended their seminars and went there from time to time. But they didn’t have any real demands upon me. Similarly, I had an adjunct appointment at the School of Public Health, in the Department of Biometry, which I still have. You know, I guess some of these places like to have names in their catalogue, but I never taught a full course there. I gave lectures there and I supervised at least one student, someone named Lena Asmollar (?), through her Master’s Degree. I suggested a thesis topic and monitored that. And, I was also part of her Ph.D. Committee. There was plenty to do here at M. D. Anderson, so these others were kind of side activities that didn’t really take much time.

Lesley W. Brunet:

You said you had plenty to do here. You worked with DT, but you worked with other groups, right?

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

Yes.

Lesley W. Brunet:

It sounded like when you were at NCI, when you were developing your protocol, you were at the table. Is that the way it occurred here?

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

Here? Well, yes. We tended to work with people who wanted to work with us. Biostatistics was not specifically a consulting group to Developmental Therapeutics. I mean, it was to whomever at M. D. Anderson called upon us. In particular, Dr. Alexanian, was not part of Developmental Therapeutics. He was, I believe, always in medicine, but I and Terry Smith (?) worked quite a bit with him over the years. We tended to work with people that were in research, so we were doing clinical research, and a lot of that was through the Developmental Therapeutics group. And, as I said, I was the head statistician for the Southwest Oncology Group, so in the early years, from 1971 until about 1982, a lot of the M. D. Anderson studies were also Southwest Oncology Group studies. We did a lot of work through the Southwest Oncology Group, where sometimes the principal investigator would be from here, so I would mention Michael Keating, in particular, on a number of protocols, and Dr. Ken McCredie, who I guess died some years ago now, as being involved in studies. I worked closely with Dr. Watsuto (?). I have a number of papers with him, and he was in pediatrics. We did work with Dr. Margaret Sullivan on studies in intergroup Hodgkin’s disease. And, I guess one of the things that your group should have come across is a book by Grant Taylor on Pioneers in Pediatric Oncology.

Lesley W. Brunet:

I have read that.

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

Well, believe it or not, I am one of the people listed in that book. I think there is a brief chapter. I think maybe not enough people read that book. When I first came, Grant Taylor was the head of the Southwest [Oncology] Group, and as I say, I became the statistician so I was working with him through there. He was the chairman; I was the statistician. He was more of an administrative chair; in other words, he wasn’t like Frei where Frei would be throwing ideas to be studied. Taylor was much more on the administrative side, and I guess one of his claims to fame, and I think it is, well I don’t know, but he was one of Clark’s old buddies. One of the things I heard he did was say that we really should buy that Main Building—that was the Prudential Building and later became the Main Building. I don’t know any of the details of this, but my understanding is that Grant Taylor was instrumental in somehow seeing that the Prudential Main Building became part of M. D. Anderson’s empire. I see there is a new building going up in the garden of the Main Building. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but Prudential—you may not remember, “Solid as a rock,” right?

Lesley W. Brunet:

I do remember.

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

You do remember that. OK. Well, the building is solid as a rock.

Lesley W. Brunet:

It was one of the first high-rises in this part of the city.

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

I don’t know what’s going to happen to that building, but it’s an older building now.

Lesley W. Brunet:

It is going to come down.

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

It is going to come down? I wouldn’t be surprised, but on the other hand, they have the property that goes around that building, too. My understanding is that he [Grant Taylor] deserves the credit for that, and in his later years he could be seen going around picking up trash. He was very interested in recycling and making sure that things were clean. He was very dedicated in that way.

Lesley W. Brunet:

Did you know him very well personally?

Edmund A. Gehan, PhD:

He put me in the book, so I guess he had respect for my work. He was of a somewhat different generation and we were professional. Even though I worked with Frei and Freireich, he didn’t see me as an enemy of pediatrics whereas he did, I think, see Freireich that way. I didn’t have enemies of that type here, at least through Taylor.

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Chapter 08: Working as Adjunct Faculty at Rice University and The University of Texas School of Public Health and Consulting Work with the Southwest Oncology Group

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