SMOOT: Dr. Schwert, would you give me a little bit of biography, tellme a little bit about your background, where you're from?
SCHWERT: Well, I was born in, uh, Denver in 1919. My father workedfor the Texas Company so he moved about a bit and when I was a dozen years or so we moved to Minneapolis and that's where I went to high school and then to Carleton College and finally my, when I was about a sophomore at Carleton, I guess, my family moved back to, from Minneapolis to Denver and I stayed on at Carleton then went to graduate school at Minnesota and, uh, when I finished in 1943, I married a Carleton classmate, Margaret Holton, and we moved to, uh, Philadelphia where I worked as a biochemist Sharp and Dohme for a year. That was when, uh, Sharp and Dohme was an independent company, now it's Merck, Sharp and Dohme and I happened to sit in there, a kind of an interesting thing where they decided that the mold derived antibiotics 1:00were not really of any interest because they owned all the sulfa drugs and it was sort of the decision that wiped out Sharp and Dohme as an independent outfit, because obviously the mold derived drugs took them over, uh, but after a year, uh I had the choice of being drafted or finding something else to do in the armed forces so I enlisted in the Navy and spent a couple of years an ensign and JG going to school and serving as a CIC [Combat Information Center] and the communication office on the destroyer, Duncan in the Pacific, well, first in the Atlantic when it was commissioned at Orange, Texas and then on to the Pacific. Didn't ever have to see any action, we just got there at the end of everything--(Smoot laughs)--which was fine. And after the war, went to Duke as a research associate with Hans Neurath in protein of enzyme chemistry and, uh, after, oh, I guess about three or four years, uh, Proltwag had been the chairman there died and Phil Handler 2:00was appointed chairman and Hans Neurath went on to the University of Washington to be chairman there and I elected to continue at Duke and stayed there then until 1959 and came to Lexington before the Medical Center opened, to recruit and establish a department of biochemistry and stayed on as chairman then for about fifteen years and had enough of that and, uh, left it to Bob Luster to be chairman and stayed on as professor until last spring when I retired. (Smoot laughs)
SMOOT: If I may, I'd like to back up a little bit--
SMOOT: --and ask a few questions. Could you tell me a little bit moreabout your, your parents and your, your home life when you were growing up, what that was like?
SCHWERT: Oh, I was an only child and there wasn't anything particularlyremarkable about it. My, uh, father was a businessman who went on 3:00to be industrial relations manager for the Texas Company and moved to New York finally although he'd resisted this move for years and years. During the war he felt an obligation, I guess, to do what he could in that industry so he did that.
SCHWERT: And, uh, my mother was born in South D-,- -he was by the way toget a little more background, he was born in, uh, upstate New York near Buffalo and wasn't a terribly well young person, all kinds of asthma and allergies before the days they could treat that and that's why he happened to end up in the west and re-, really kind of did not wish to leave Denver for many years because at that time, as you probably know, respiratory diseases were mainly treated by sending you away from where you were troubled. My mother was born in South Dakota, lived on a farm for, while she was growing up and then went to Denver and, uh, became a nurse and met my father there. I don't know if that fills in the 4:00background, but that's--
SCHWERT: --thumbnail. (Smoot laughs)
SMOOT: What were the schools like that you attended? Uh.
SCHWERT: Well, Carleton of course is an excellent place.
SCHWERT: And, uh, really a fine experience. I enjoyed that enormouslyand met a great many people. I knew a great many people there who of course have been friends since, sort of that happy relationship where if you don't see folks for twenty years when you meet them again you can sort of pick up the conversation where it was without any probing to see how they have changed and what they are like after all these years, you know them well enough that you fundamentally realize that all the changes are superficial and so you can go right ahead and renew old acquaintances very readily.
SCHWERT: And, uh, Minnesota, at the time I was a graduate studentthere--I was in the department of agricultural biochemistry out in the, uh, so-called farm campus. Minnesota has two campuses separated by a little space and at that time Ross Akin Gortner was the chairman 5:00there and, uh, he was a very distinguished man, very firm views and an inspiring teacher. Happened that most of the views he held were not proved subsequently to be correct, but that didn't make a great deal of difference. He still, uh, gave you the urge to work hard at being a biochemist, which was what his job was.
SCHWERT: And, uh, at that time, as compared to today when biochemistryis exceedingly well funded, you know, in spite the government cut backs, the fact is that bio-, research in biology is still well funded for people who want to do research, that don't have any great trial, if they have a decent idea, of being of funded. The competition is intense, but still you can get money. By contrast, before World War II there was virtually no funding that was not university derived. The foundation support was very, very limited. The Rockefeller Foundation was almost the only source of support and, uh, the Rock-, well, over 6:00about thirty Rockefeller fellowships a year and that was just about it. So that the support for research was very limited indeed and, uh, in addition, the whole science of biochemistry was just vastly primitive compared to where it is today. Nowadays you can tell an extraordinarily coherent story about many, many parts of biochemistry and of course all the recent developments in, uh, biological engineering and just sort of mind boggling, even when they're familiar they're mind boggling. In that age things were exceedingly primitive. The, one would never have guessed, I think, that progress, at that time could never have guessed that progress could have been remotely as rapid as it has been. So it's been an exceedingly, um, very vibrant field to be in during all these years.
SMOOT: Hmm. Why did you choose biochemistry over some other field in7:00science?
SCHWERT: Almost pure accident. I, uh, it just seemed to me, I, Idon't know, it might have been reading Arrowsmith. I don't know if you are acquainted with Arrowsmith, the old Sinclair Lewis thing. I think at that time that did have an appreciable influence on a lot of people, you know, the sort of faith that something would happen in biology during the next X years and, uh, chemistry was fun but it, and I really didn't have any particular background in biology when I went into biochemistry, but it just seemed that biochemistry would be more interesting, so--
SCHWERT: --nothing very profound about it.
SMOOT: What did you do following your doctoral work at Minnesota?
SCHWERT: Well, then this one year at Sharp and Dohme.
SCHWERT: And that was not a terribly productive year because at thattime they used Tiselius electrophoresis to analyze protein fractions 8:00and Sharp and Dohme was the, one of the, I guess it was m-, supplier of serum albumin to the armed forces. Instead of using whole blood they removed the cells and simply ----------(??) a pool of serum albumin and, uh, no, isolated and then ------------(??) serum albumin and using--back up, they isolated it using the techniques of Coleman Edsel that had been published not many years before that and, uh, the problems of transporting and preserving, uh, serum albumin were very much less than for whole blood and very much less than for plasma where you have many more problems you can concentrate, freeze albumin, keep it more or less forever and, um, in order to check on purity of this stuff you had to do Tiselius electrophoresis, which was a very tedious business and since I had done a dissertation that involved this, why setting up an electrophoresis apparatus, which was a big, old optical branch about 9:00twenty feet long, with a fancy camera that measured the refractive indices and all that stuff, took a bit of doing and because of the war, getting some of the parts and all, was tedious so it was a kind of, uh, a dull year of assembling and putting together this machine. I can't say that I was entirely unhappy to leave Sharp and Dohme for the Navy because it just wasn't that interesting. (both laugh)
SMOOT: And in the Navy?
SCHWERT: Oh, in the Navy I went through the usual business of goingin, indoctrination school, Plattsburgh, New York then got assigned to destroyer schools and went to destroyer schools in Norfolk for awhile.
SCHWERT: And then to special CIC, combat information center, school inFlorida and then was assigned to the Duncan which was a new ship under construction in Orange, Texas and, uh, went down there and commissioned this thing and then went to Cuba, Guantanamo, for a shakedown cruise 10:00and immediately returned to, uh, Newport News and they cut the ship in half and took off all the torpedoes and put in another twenty-two foot length fuel tanks and space for, uh, the electronics gear and made this into a radar picket ship instead of a standard destroyer, the notion being since at that time the kamikazes were causing substantial damage to carriers and destroyers. There was the thought for a time that they might not be able to send carrier task forces to sea because they were running out of destroyers so rapidly, but if they built destroyers that had no torpedoes and had a bunch more guns and surrounded the carriers at a range of, oh, up to twenty miles to sort of soak up the kamikazes that would be a useful function and this ship was built for that specific purpose and as a result we spent endless hours shooting through all kinds of guns at toy targets and this sort of thing and, 11:00uh, went back to Gua-, Guantanamo Bay and tried out all these new pieces of radar equipment and jamming equipment and all the new guns and then proceeded through the Panama Canal to San Diego and on to Pearl Harbor. It was kind of interesting that by the time we got to Pearl Harbor everybody had really got a belly full of shooting guns and we happened to tie up next to a destroyer, one which all of us knew many officers, had been well kamikazed, it, two planes had crashed and it was kind of a miracle the thing survived. Most of the officers were killed, a few survived and so the next day we went out shooting guns for target practice we were acutely bettering. (both laugh) The performance stepped up very, very quickly, but then we went on to the western Pacific and, uh, really didn't ever do anything serious in the war. We escorted all kinds of carriers this way and that way and at war's end, uh, went up into the Yellow Sea and turned west at the 12:00Gulf of Po Hai and, uh, were able to see the eastern terminus of the Great Wall coming down to the sea there which was very handsome, but the purpose of being there wasn't just to see the pretty picture, but the thought was with a small carrier task force. As I remember there were four destroyers and three S-class carriers. If they could keep the communist Chinese from tearing up the railroads--the north, south railroad--then the nationalist troops could again control northern China and it was a good idea except that of course the communists tore up the railroads at night.
SCHWERT: The carriers weren't too effective and continued to controlcommunist China. We of course weren't allowed to go any place near northern China because it was under firm communist control at that time, so we sat out there and looked five miles away at the Great Wall. We, uh--has nothing to do with this narrative, but our biggest sea 13:00adventures occurred there when we were coming up through the Yellow Sea right after the war--it had been very heavily mined--and while we had the Japanese maps nobody was certain how accurate they were nor even if they were honest because there was a strong suspicion that the Japanese might not indeed surrender completely and having charts that were a little mismarked would have been an amusing piece of maneuver and in addition they'd been mined from the air by B-29s, which were not terribly precise in laying mines so that the Yellow Sea was pretty full of mines and we had a, uh, oh, sort of a business during the day we had a bent screen, bent park screen. There were destroyers and the carriers in line behind it trying to protect the carriers from these mines and I suppose we shot up twenty mines a day, more or less, one 14:00was before destroyers--floating mines. We got up in the Gulf of Po Hai and came across what appeared to be a sown mine field, kind of rusty, gray objects under the surface, pretty, roughly four feet in diameter, looked exactly like mine, after a sort of a hair-raising bunch of experiences steaming around these and trying to find out for sure what they were. Somebody on another destroyer, not ours, put out a small boat and approached one of these things and they were tremendous jelly fish, why--(both laugh)--they were about four feet across.
SMOOT: My gosh.
SCHWERT: Scared the ---------(??)--(Smoot laughs)--place.
SCHWERT: And the other thing that happened to us there, this was a, sortof a bunch of comic misadventures. We, uh, again, it wasn't certain that the Japanese had really surrendered and, uh, we were steaming 15:00along in the Gulf of Po Hai and picked up a very strong echo. People thought, you know, obviously, it was a submarine and we were the first ship in the number two position in a bent screen, just on the port side of the center. The ship on the outside went steaming over this thing and threw in a bunch of depth charges and had not taken terrible, -ly, terribly close note business and the Gulf of Po Hai is shallow, it's only fifty feet deep or so, and they didn't set their depth charges shallow enough to detonate so they steamed in over them again and the increased pressure of the ship set off the depth charges--(both laugh)--broke off their sound stock and broke all their lights, knocked out their radios, they got a real shaking. Well, after they steamed on with all this broken trash on their ship we went steaming into the attack because we were sitting off to one side pinging on this thing too and this time we did set the depth charges shallow enough 16:00and the captain having seen this other ship got shaken up did a thing that is not normally done. The standard doctrine for these surface attacks on submarines was that the destroyer proceeds along at fifteen knots invariably and then if the target moves, uh, relative to this fifteen knots, you know it's target movement and nothing else. Well, the captain didn't want to sit on top of his own depth charges as the other destroyer had done so as we dropped them he accelerated the ship and so on this plot it looked very much--using the standard plotting technique--as though the target had accelerated so everybody--(Smoot laughs)--was absolutely certain that we had depth charged the last Japanese submarine that was at sea.
SCHWERT: And in due time a whole bunch of junk came up to the surface.We'd not been terribly good at this sort of thing in many, many trials before with captive submarines. All kinds of garbage came up to the surface and about then the admiral who was commanding this task force 17:00told us to rejoin the group and quit all this fooling around and the executive officer I'm certain could see the Navy cross right on his blouse from that last submarine that we had participated in, he conned the attack and, and it took us a day before people got rational again. Obviously this damn thing was a sunken ship, it sank with its full cargo and we came by and just blew it to smithereens. All the cargo and oil and every dang thing came out of that ship and that contributed to all this debris, but it took a full day before it dawned on people that no submarine is going to be sitting under fifty feet of water waiting for us to come by and blow it to bits, so those were our two big Navy adventures and then we, uh, during the occupation times that, time that's communications in various little centers for the occupation forces in various little islands in the Japanese chain. 18:00
SCHWERT: And, oh, spent a little time in Tokyo and a little timeknocking around China and, you know, just generally spending time till we finally got back and everybody was--who had enough points was discharged.
SMOOT: Seemingly an influential experience in your life.
SCHWERT: Uh, well, it had, had lots of interesting aspects to it. (bothlaugh)
SMOOT: When you returned, uh, you went to Duke University, is thatcorrect?
SCHWERT: Yeah, yeah. Uh, Hans Neurath was a Viennese who was educatedin Germany and he'd been a--Jewish--he'd been a refugee of sorts and, uh, had been at the University of Minnesota and then Frank Putnam, who'd been in graduate school the same time I was, went down to work with Hans as a sort of research associate, do research there. He left just to go to Camp Detrick, Fort Detrick , the, where they did the chemical warfare stuff right at the end of the war and so Hans was 19:00looking for somebody else who was interested in the kind of physical biochemistry that he pursued and so I, uh, wrote to Dave Briggs that I'd done my dissertation with, when I was still someplace in the Pacific and he suggested I get in touch with Hans and so that's how I came to go to Duke and work there for four years on the business that he was interested in, the nature of well, hubadouble (??) to the proteolytic pancreatic enzymes work, that is the, they'd be, these proteins had been crystallized and, uh, bergmented (??). The Rockefeller Institute had done substantial pioneering work in what the specificity of these was. At one time it was believed that something that chewed on a protein molecule would only attack a protein molecule and the protein at that time we knew nothing of structures, you just knew it was big and so the notion of being able to study how these enzymes worked was 20:00quite an impossible kind of thing to approach. Bergmann got the notion that, uh, why not go ahead and make a bunch of little synthetic peptins and it's bound to chew on some of these and he did indeed characterize the specificity of these quite cleanly and, and then Neurath's interest, in which he has pursued to the present time, was in the details of this business of how the proteases do hydrolize proteins, how do they take them apart, how do you add water into the peptid bonds to take proteins to pieces, down to amino acids, so that you can absorb them from the GI [gastrointestinal] track and, uh, I enjoyed working with Hans, he's a charming man, very cultured man, extraordinarily dedicated and very, very supportive of the people who worked with him. I owed him a, and owe him a tremendous amount for his personal 21:00support during this period. He was really very, very helpful and very dedicated investigator and who did lots of other things for me as well. Then, uh, when he moved on to the University of Washington, we, uh, elected to stay at Duke because it was a good place to be and did.
SMOOT: Um-hm. How long did you stay at Duke?
SCHWERT: There from '46 to '59.
SMOOT: Um-hm. Facility wise, a nice institution isn't it?
SCHWERT: Oh yeah, it's a pleasant place to be and during this period ofcourse, uh, government support for research in biology improved, well, improved. There were Office of Naval Research funds left at the end of the war and I believe it was D. D. Van Slyke who was at the Rockefeller 22:00Institute who persuaded the secretary of the Navy to continue to expend these and, uh, this was sort of the in pour research in biology as a piece of national policy and then this general idea that the federal government as a matter of policy would support research in the health sciences and this is health sciences interpreted very broadly, they support enormous, supported and support enormous block amount of very fundamental research in biology in the thought that ultimately this is going to have use and of course that policy has been more than justified, I think, and so, uh, it, from about 1950 on, getting federal monies to support your ideas, if you thought they were worth a dime, was not too difficult, indeed it was pretty easy and, uh, so that the university didn't, like all private universities, didn't put up for 23:00very much money. What they did was provide you with the opportunity to go out and get your own. They'd be supportive as all get out as long as you could raise the funds and that was more than adequate support at that time and, uh, I guess one of the reasons I stayed at Duke was while I admired Hans it is fairly evident that after a certain time in your career, if you stay with a very much better established investigator as a cohort, you will forever be the junior partner in the firm and, uh, so it seemed time to break loose and not to go with him to the University of Washington and Phil Handler, uh, the chairman of Duke, was an extraordinary man and I enjoyed long, productive association with Phil as chairman. He was, I think, only twenty-nine when he was appointed chairman of the, of that department.
SCHWERT: And, uh, he'd been a biochemist for a fair span though because24:00as I remember he, uh, I'm not su-, I don't recall, I think Phil went to City College. He graduated when he was about seventeen and he got his Ph.D. in biochemistry at Illinois when he was twenty-one so although Phil was a fairly young man, he'd been in the trade for a time. Really remarkable person, very, very gifted guy. I don't know if you know anything about Phil Handler at all, he was chairman of the National Academy of Sciences for about, uh, oh, for two terms which is a dozen years I, eight or a dozen years and, uh, died just a few years ago. He, actually he was about my age and, uh, everybody was wondering what Phil would do after his stint as chairman of the National Academy because he's a man of such enormous talent and such a very, very wide grasp of not only the details, the technical parts of science, but also the broad implications of science and the humanistic meaning 25:00and justification for being a scientist at all that people were very interested in what in the world he would do next and unhappily what he did next was die of lymphoma.
SCHWERT: So that, we'll never know what Phil might have done next.
SMOOT: You were persuaded somehow to leave Duke University and come tothe University of Kentucky. Why don't you tell me a little bit about that?
SCHWERT: Well, I think that can be done very simply. That, uh, BillWillard, who was the first vice-president for the Medical Center and the dean too at that time, was a man that would, who could just charm the birds out of the trees. He was very warm, straightforward person who conveyed the sense that what he was doing was of vast importance and that he would be delighted if you would share in this enterprise with him and also conveyed the impression that there was absolutely nothing that he wouldn't do to make the place succeed and to make your 26:00own contribution to it as good as you could make it.
SCHWERT: And, uh, very warm human, winning person and I just don't know,I guess that's one of the main reasons why we came. There's always the excitement of doing something new of course, but coming in as a chairman to any department that's well established always has problems of course. There are bound to be people who've been there too long that, who are disgruntled because they weren't selected and every new chairman, even under the happiest circumstances, always inherits a bunch of unresolved issues and so starting things fresh at least, you can make fresh mistakes, you don't have to perpetuate old mistakes.
SCHWERT: And, um, I'm sure that's, was the main reason and Lexington,as you know, is also a very pleasant community to live in and I'm sure that that influenced Margaret and me. By then we had two kids about nine and seven, ten and eight, something like that--Bill and Janet--and 27:00we were a little reluctant to move them, but we figured it would be a lot better then than a few years later when they were--
SCHWERT: --teenagers, so that that seemed appropriate and, uh, theother thing is that while Duke is a perfectly grand place to be, very exciting, lots, very good place, Durham is a, was, and I'm not sure that it may still not be, fairly lousy little town. (both laugh) It's a mill town.
SCHWERT: It had a big cigarette factory, big cotton mills and once yougot out of the Duke enclave you weren't really very much of any place. I mean, Chapel Hill was a nice community, but Chapel Hill wasn't Durham.
SCHWERT: So it is, Durham had limitations.
SCHWERT: And so moving to Lexington was not by any means a step down inour setting.
SCHWERT: The, uh, we recognized that the university at that time--Idon't think it's any secret to anybody--was small and parochial and really didn't amount to a great deal--but, uh, I think, nowadays 28:00faculty, faculty have always been a little discontent. Many faculty get their noses a little out of joint because the university doesn't, isn't moving faster. I've had my nose bent sometimes in that way, but over this twenty-five, twenty-six year period the changes in this university are just amazing. But at that time it was small and it was really quite parochial. The notion that it would ever be able to compete much outside, in any area, much outside the edges of Kentucky seemed to be an entirely foreign idea to almost everybody except I think the president, Frank Dickey, saw that the university ought to be a much bigger place and better place than it had been. But, um, most of the faculty were kind of content to be quiet and to be left alone and live in a pleasant town, which as you know, was not very big at 29:00that time, seventy-five thousand or so, and, uh, so that--I think the Medical Center come--I think the people who came here thought would be a useful thing because there, it is a well established history that, you know, you bring in a major new chunk and a lot of new people and an institution is bound to be somewhat influenced by all this and I think it has been and I'm not going to say that the Medical Center made a lot much difference to the development of the university, but I think at least it was in the direction of going that way and, uh, so we also saw that as something that might happen if we all moved to Kentucky and so at the time I moved here Bill Knisely, who was chairman of anatomy, and Joe Parker, who was chairman of psychiatry, both left Duke and they both came here in August of 1959.
SMOOT: Hmm. Had you been directly recruited by Dr. Willard?
SCHWERT: Yeah, um-hm.
SMOOT: And, uh, how did he come to decide upon looking for--30:00
SMOOT: --George Schwert?
SCHWERT: I think that, well--(Smoot laughs)--what he said--and I haveno way of knowing if it's true--he came, went to talk to Phil Handler because of course Phil, even though he was a very young guy, was, uh, widely acquainted in biochemistry--
SCHWERT: --nationally and so then Phil said that he thought that I wouldbe a suitable candidate, so that's how that happened--worked out.
SMOOT: Do you think he accurately portrayed, uh, what was going to takeplace at the University of Kentucky when he came to recruit you?
SCHWERT: Yes, I think that he didn't pull any punches. He didn't paintany rosy pictures at all. That, uh, he made it quite plain, you know, that starting a new institution of that scope takes a heck of a lot of time and dedication and if you didn't want to do it, why, possibly you shouldn't think about this.
SCHWERT: And, uh, I must say I sat on my hands for a few months while I31:00chewed on this, which must have annoyed him substantially since he was trying--(both laugh)--to recruit chairmen for all the departments, but, uh, eventually we did settle on coming here.
SMOOT: Did you find any problems, uh, that arose once you'd come herethat, uh, were not portrayed by Dr. Willard, something that was un-, uh, unexpected?
SCHWERT: Oh yeah, there were, uh, there were various things. One was,which I think Dr. Willard thought he had solved, the bacteriology department, as it was then called on the campus, existed and Bill had gotten the trustees to approve the establishment of a microbiology department in the College of Medicine and he anticipated that this would resolve the problem-- you'd have two departments--and the reason 32:00for this was very straightforward, that the bacteriology department on the campus didn't ought--its job well, it was mainly though training people technically to do jobs like working in dairies and water plants and such places. Its interest in medical microbiology from the point of view microbes causing a lot of disease wasn't a very strong vector and the graduate program was really pretty tiny and we thought if you're going to build a new place you might just as well start out with your sights set substantially above that level and so then the next step was for the bacteriology department to have its name changed to the microbiology department and to insist that they didn't mind if another one was established as long as they controlled the graduate program and this went on, as you may know, for years, this fooling around and, 33:00uh, had the Medical Center had a good microbiology department early on its development would've moved forward a lot faster. What happened in all this was after teaching microbiology a few of the physicians in medicine and a couple of people in biochemistry who had reasonable backgrounds taught the first few classes, microbiology, and finally we got the idea or, I don't know where it came from--yes, I do know where it came from-- Dick Schweet, who was one of the, the first person I recruited, he was from City of Hope Medical Center and really a fine biochemist. I don't know if you're interested in what, why he was fine, you want to hear that piece?
SCHWERT: Okay. Dick Schweet, uh, got his, did his graduate work atIowa State and then he went to Cal Tech and at that time the business of how proteins are synthesized was just being approached. It's hard 34:00to believe--(laughs)--that that is true, but the, that is the, you could make peptids chemically, but how is it done in the cell and, uh, a group at Harvard--I have to say that the name escapes me, I can supply it if you'll drop me a note--had shown that if you took, uh, ribosomes and, well, actually the ribosome was shown at Cal Tech, but the group at Harvard showed if you took ribosomes in somewhat little, purified system in a soluble fraction, in broken cells, like liver cells and ATP [adenosine 5' - triphosphate] and labeled amino acids, you could incorporate the labeled amino acids into some stuff which was precipitated with agents that precipitate protein and so there was the possibility that these amino acids were actually being incorporated into protein. There was also the possibility that this was just a 35:00pure artifact because ATP if you make adenohydrides of one sort or another of amino acids and ATP, this is a highly reactive compound that you might be sticking amino acids into all sorts of things that weren't proteins, but, so Dick started with this information and he'd worked with Henry Borson at Cal Tech and knew how to make ribosomes, how you induce, well, ribosome synthesis in reticulocytes and the reticulocyte is a primitive red cell and the big virtue of this is that it makes almost only one protein--hemoglobin--that at this stage in the cell development it is not making a zillion different things, it's making hemoglobin and you can poison the rabbits with phenyl-hydrazine and wipe out their red cells and then they will make reticulocytes in abundance so you have a good biological source of the stuff to start with, the enzymes you need, and Dick showed since the amino 36:00acid composition of hemoglobin was known. He carried the Harvard experiments, and the man who did these experiments at Harvard was Paul Zamecnik, Z-a-m-e-c-n-i-k, Zamecnik--(Smoot laughs)--he's a physician, but he'd been biochemist, but he's in the department of medicine at Harvard, but he carried Zamecnik's experiments one step further. He didn't show that single amino acids were incorporated, but showed that if you put in, uh, amino acids labeled in various ways with carbon material, uh, that the ratio of incorporation was the same as the ratio in which these occur in hemoglobin.
SCHWERT: So there then could be no question but what the amino acidswere indeed being built into a protein, not just being stuck to some group in the cell. So this was a real lurch forward and Dick at that time was one of the prime investigators in the business of protein synthesis. It was very exciting work so we were pleased to get Dick to come to Kentucky. Well, Dick had an offer from the University of 37:00Virginia to go there as chairman and we were anxious to retain him and, uh, conversations with Dick it worked out that we decided we would invent a department called cell biology, which would teach medical students microbiology and would continue the, uh, kind of investigation that Dick was interested in. It's really a first cousin of biochemistry that many departments of microbiology which are very successful are pretty much staffed completely by biochemists. So Dr. Willard thought that was a good idea on both points so we established this department and for a couple of years, uh, Dick as chairman, recruited folks --John and Jerry Gorman and Jesse Sisken and other folks--and was putting together this little, this department of cell biology which could form this dual function in teaching medical students and carrying out 38:00research and then--and here the date escapes me, again, I can look it up or we'll come across it maybe--Dick was killed in an airplane crash. He was on his way to his study section meeting in Salt Lake City, as I remember it and, uh, the plane that he was going to fly out of here was over booked, Piedmont was over booked, and they chartered a little Beechcraft. And the little Beechcraft which had in it, let's see, Dick Schweet and Jerry Cohen, who was a pulmonary physician in the Department of Medicine, and the man who was chairman of statistics--
SCHWERT: --here were all aboard this little Beechcraft and it flew abouta mile and crashed. It was tail heavy and just couldn't stay in the air--
SCHWERT: --and they of course were killed. So this was, in trying toresolve this cell biology, microbiology thing was another vast setback 39:00to the plans of the place and so we were essentially back to ground zero. This happened in the spring and our own department quickly scurried around and rearranged to teach our whole course in the fall semester so we could release some of our own folks who could teach microbiology to teach that in the spring semester and we got over that immediate crisis, but again, then it took many more years of maneuvering and negotiating before the present arrangement with a real, honest to god department of medical microbiology and immunology was established.
SCHWERT: And so that was a thing that Bill Willard had not anticipated.He thought he had that problem solved and it was a thorn to us, well, for the best part of twenty years.
SCHWERT: Not entirely because of the reluctance of the people on the,in the arts and sciences department to be cooperative. They had their own rice bowl, but of course the death of Dick Schweet was a formidable 40:00blow to the, the place. Now, the other thing that, uh, I hadn't quite anticipated was that the Medical Center, you know, active research departments spend a heck of a lot of money and they have to spend it rather quickly if, you know, if have a year's grant you can't afford to wait six months to have things purchased and the purchasing department at that time. People now fuss about it I'm sure from time to time, but we did not have the capacity for moving quickly and it was just nightmarish. They used old state procedures and, you know, you had to get competitive bids on every darn thing. The fact there was only one supplier influenced nobody's mind at all. The law was you got X competitive bids and five out of six wouldn't bid because they couldn't supply it and the one who was known to be the only supplier would bid and this just go on and on and on for all kinds of things. That whole 41:00area was a thing that I think Bill hadn't anticipated and turned out to be a total pain in the rear end.
[Pause in recording.]
SCHWERT: Because when you're trying to get things started you do requirematerials--(laughs)--and this was very, very hard sometimes and, uh, oh a variety of techniques were used to get around this, but, uh, ultimately the university just got a lot more apt at doing this job and, uh, got contracts with a number of suppliers so that they could obtain things more or less in a week rather than six months so that this problem has been very largely solved, but it took a long time to solve because the whole business orientation in the university had not been in that direction.
SCHWERT: And of course of all the, them called (??) us substantiallyI think the people in the hospital must have nearly lost their minds 42:00because, you know, if you're running short of some darn patient care material you really can't wait a half a year to have it replaced and so it, uh, was a long tedious business getting that, some business aspect resolved. Now, beyond that, I don't think, and I don't think Bill anticipated that because at the time, uh, I was doing business with him, negotiating with him, he simply hadn't had that experience. He was just rounding up a few people and, uh, had not come across these purchasing problems or really against the nature of that microbiology problem, but beyond that I think that he presented things very much as they were, but, uh, we were starting in a cornfield and that, uh, one day there was going to be a medical center there and while I know there are many people in the state who have mixed feelings about Governor Chandler, but Bill Willard was absolutely persuaded that Governor 43:00Chandler was wholly supportive of having the best medical center that could be put together and I never saw anything happen to indicate that indeed the governor did not have a very complete personal commitment to doing as good a job as could be done.
SCHWERT: And, uh, so, about those, except for those items things werepresented as they are--have been.
SMOOT: What were your impressions of the rest of Dr. Willard's staff,his team?
SCHWERT: Well, I, I thought that he put together a very good group offolks. Dick Wittrup, the first hospital administrator, was on the premises when I came; Carl Delabar was and Bob Straus, whom you've probably spoken with, already was here. Beyond that there weren't many folks around. He had a few secretaries, but that was--uh, now wait a, Howard Bost, as medical economist was here, but beyond that there just 44:00weren't many folks and they all seemed competent in their, what they were doing. More that competent, very able and dedicated to what they were doing.
SCHWERT: Bob had a particular philosophy about medical education,which he was promoting the business of the importance of behavioral science, and I can't say that, uh, I could quarrel with that. I'm s-, and so I did what I could to be supportive of that and obviously if I hadn't been in some measure of agreement with that, I wouldn't have come because it was plain that was also Bill Willard's point of view. I'd been a little bit exposed to this, to the problems of medical education, because while I was at Duke I was appointed a Marco scholar. This is an outfit that's pretty much gone now, in that period, but, uh, they selected, oh, twenty-five, thirty young people who were in the field of medical education and made a five year grant to them to support their salaries. At that time, salaries were low enough that 45:00that didn't take a vast amount of money at all, so if they couldn't devote a little time not only to their own research problems, but to give a little thought to, the broader problems of medical education so that Bob's ideas weren't all that shocking to me and, uh, I thought they were good people and able people and folks who really knew what they were about. Howard Bost handled all the financial stuff in--
SCHWERT: --building the Medical Center and Bob supplied great support inthe, getting together the, uh, sort of educational mission statements and, uh, Dick Wittrup worried about putting together a hospital, so they seemed, seemingly able, competent people and I thought that the faculty he rec-, that was recruited at the, in the beginning was really very good group, that, uh, Ed Pellegrino, the first chairman 46:00of medicine, a very charming, cultured, affable guy. I thought, I, you may have seen his portrait in the auditorium in the Medical Center, small and obviously of Italian decent, and bright eyes and very charming, very quick mind and, uh, good physician, who again, had a philosophy about medical care in education that fitted in well with Bill Willard's and with Bob Straus' so they got, hit it off well and, uh, Lawrence Carlsen, the first chairman of physiology was very able man. I, I was much taken with the whole bunch of the first faculty folks and of course I'd known Bill Knisely at Duke for a long time so we didn't have any great problem getting together and working together. I used to suggest to Bill sometimes that, maybe we should have a great 47:00big, knockdown, drag out row just to persuade people that we weren't working as a Duke force against the rest of the place--(Smoot laughs)-- because in general we did agree on the things that had to be done.
SMOOT: Um-hm. You mentioned several times about the philosophy,uh, certain people had the same sort of philosophy. What was this philosophy?
SCHWERT: Well, it, uh, it had two aspects. One was that, uh, it wasfelt by a lot of people in medicine, or in medical education, that the very high level of government support for research was persuading many medical schools to educate physicians who were essentially scientists and who lost track of the fact that the patient was the principal object of all this education. I don't know if that was justified or not, but the point was made that there are vast areas of medicine that 48:00do not fit into any scientific doctrine and that medical care is one long way from being a science and that you had best spend substantial time training potential physicians in how people behave and what, how their behavior influences health and recovery and all the rest and just teaching them the technical aspects of medicine.
SCHWERT: I think that was a, was and is a very valid point. I'mjust not persuaded that the situation was nearly so alarming as the alarmists would have it be because I suspect that virtually every sensible practicing physician, whatever his orientation as a scientist, recognized those other aspects. Nonetheless, uh, this de-, school had, I think, the first department of behavioral science in a medical center and, uh, its mission was to fill that role of making sure the 49:00students understood that whatever else might happen, that the object you're dealing with are objects are people. Well, that was good. The other aspect of this, which was Ed Pellegrino's, was that he, he invented the undifferentiated physician, that the role of undergraduate medical education is to prepare people for subsequent specialization so that you prepare them on the broadest base you can and that what they do thereafter is up to their interests and their lives, but that this institution had that role. It's rather interesting that Ed came back here eight years ago, more or less, to give one of the lectures to the students and had switched his point of view completely to the notion that if you have some inclination as to what you're going to do as medical student you should begin to specialize immediately, which a, 50:00arguing that medicine is so vast and so complex that you really cannot become an undifferentiated physician. I, I'm afraid I still think that the undifferentiated physician for the first four years is what the aim should be so that you at least know what your colleagues are talking about in a broad, general way.
SCHWERT: So those were, I think, the two sort of dominant themes intrying to set up a teaching program. Ed also had the, uh, a notion that hasn't, did not work out--that in order to train undifferentiated physicians you should have essentially teaching and care teams in the hospital which would have a physician say and a surgeon and a nurse and, uh, that these would look at every patient on a ward, for example, as a team.
SCHWERT: And that the student would then understand rather clearly thatthese various specialties in medicine work together toward the aim of providing care for the physician. Well, I think again, philosophically this is a splendid point. Practically it doesn't work that way because there aren't that many surgeons in the world who want to do that. The surgical personality is just not one that works terribly well in harness with a bunch of other people giving them advice or offering advice to other people and, uh, so that has not survived, but that was another of the pieces of Ed's thinking about how medical education ought to go.
SMOOT: Um-hm. How well do you think this philosophy of medicaleducation fit in with the overall educational philosophy of the University of Kentucky?
SCHWERT: I really can't respond to that question. We, uh, in our52:00particular role in this place, aside from medical students, have contact virtually only with graduate students and so we see little of undergraduates and, uh, have had relatively small contact with the arts and sciences colleges. I don't see that it's out of line with it, but I can't really respond to that in any detail.
SMOOT: Um-hm. How well do you think the, um, uni-, overall universityadministration--the president and his staff--worked with the Medical Center, the vice-president and his staff?
SCHWERT: Well, Dr. Dickey realized, I think, that he had voluntarilygrabbed a tiger by the tail, that, uh, you know, you got a hold of the Medical Center and it is likely to develop into a large kind of self- perpetuating place which will do its best to dominate the horizon and many universities with medical centers have faced this problem have-- 53:00Yale at one time--and it's a problem first in staffing, that the staff of the Medical Center can grow almost without limit and especially when you have abundant outside funding.
SCHWERT: So that this, I think, is not a threat but a fact and, uh, theother thing is that in the patient care area, you know, you can just build hospitals that don't stop because people continue to be ill and Kentucky at that time was not abundantly endowed although Lexington had lots of physicians and lots of hospitals. The state at large was pretty under-served--
SCHWERT: --with health care so I, I think Dr. Dickey probablyappreciated in detail what he had laid hands on and, uh, was not surprised that Bill Willard wanted to charge ahead full steam. I'm, I'm not certain for what reasons he resigned the presidency. I guess 54:00he thought he'd had enough of that, but, uh, Jack Oswald came here and his experience at the University of California where he had been provost or somebody with a special interest in medical centers and made him understand very plainly the notion that medical centers had the potential for growth that didn't stop and he also thought, I believe, that the Medical Center had been given a good boost toward getting going and that by contrast, pardon me--(coughs)--
SCHWERT: --the rest of the university needed an enormous shot in thearm so I think he quite deliberately damped down support to the Medical Center in order to devote his efforts and funds to the rest of the university.
SCHWERT: Didn't thrill the people in the Medical Center that much. I55:00suspect from his point of view and from the state's point of view that was the proper decision to take.
SCHWERT: The only little trouble is that until the very recent last fewyears that damping down persisted, even after Dr. Oswald left and Dr. Singletary came, that the economic situation had changed a little, but as Bill Jordan, who was the second dean, pointed out this was the only institution in the United States which had had no major construction for twenty years more or less. And it just sat there with no further input of state support for a very long time and this, I think the institution, the Medical Center, the College of Medicine did as well as it conceivably could, but, uh, we could have used a lot more space for lots of activities, at that time. Right now, as I'm sure you're aware, 56:00various things are happening, cancer centers and all that, but, uh, and the other part, of course they did build the learning center across the street, but the learning center doesn't do very much for research space, has a zillion classrooms which aren't well utili-, which are well utilized, but, uh, it was the feeling, I think, of the folks in the College of Medicine, that we could have used a substantial increase in area as the place matured, they couldn't get the--
SMOOT: Um-hm. Let's pause for just a moment. Okay.
SCHWERT: I guess in this development of things that were neither goodor bad, uh, Jack Oswald--I'm, I'm, I'm not sure now where the idea came from--but Jack Oswald gave his approval to the notion that if someway the basic science departments, for example biochemistry and physiology and microbiology in the Medical Center, could put together 57:00an integrated educational program with the departments on the campus this might do something to establish a sort of a center of strength in that area and that the two groups could be mutually self-supporting.
SCHWERT: And, uh, this has certain attractions and this sort of thinghas worked out in a number of other institutions where you form an alliance between these things even though the departments retain their separate identities and separate roles and you switch people back- and-forth to solve problems that need to be solved. Well, that seemed attractive and looked like it might be a way out of the microbiology de-, problem and unfortunately that came a total cropper. That was the Hunt-Morgan School of Biological Sciences at the time when Jack Oswald 58:00was promoting schools as areas of strength in the university and it might have worked. It would have taken someone with substantial skills at getting people to work together and then they recruited, unhappily, Sam McConey, had not these skills and, uh, I'm sure you can imagine that with the business of arts and sciences and medicine each being a little wary of this arrangement if you got somebody in the middle who's, frankly, a little paranoid, you could have the stage set for total failure.
SCHWERT: And Sam could never emphasize the cooperative aspects. Hewas forever emphasizing, uh, the notion that the College of Arts and Sciences had to be dominant in this. Since they didn't have the horsepower to be dominant this thing struggled on for a few years 59:00and finally was dissolved, but it took an enormous amount of time and effort and it was a substantial disappointment. I think that this was a good plan, but there, one of the problems the university had at that time was a tremendous amount of in-breeding. People had, would stay here forever and would see only local solutions and hadn't had enough experience in other institutions to see that other patterns of things might work and they also tended to do a thing which I'm afraid the senate counsel and the senate still tend to do, that you never consider doing anything unless you can cite a precedent for it having been done elsewhere. It's a little hard to be innovative-- (laughs)--if you have to have a precedent.
SCHWERT: But this other arrangement in a few institutions worked andworked well. In this institution for lack of the appropriate kinds of leadership and I think of administrative insistence on leadership that 60:00it came a cropper Sam left and the whole thing collapsed.
SCHWERT: I think that in, in part the business of cooperation withthe, between the two groups of biologists has improved because, uh, as younger people were recruited in various departments on the campus they tended to find that the folks on the, in the Medical Center were less and less threatening and so that the situation now isn't too bad at all. We have a number of people in biology who wander over to all the seminars and work in the labs on projects and showing interest quite freely. At one time, frankly that was sort of frowned upon, that if you associated with those people, why all kinds of contaminants might rub off on you apparently, but that was another of area of development that caused us a lot of effort and grief and came to nothing at all 61:00unhappily.
SCHWERT: It's a, just a back fill up little piece of information. Idon't remember where we were when I thought of that.
SMOOT: I've, we were talking about administration and, uh.
SCHWERT: I think that one of the vice-presidents of the universityand I, I, you know, just one of these, my only little paranoia shows up, kept pumping Sam full of the doctrine that you mustn't allow the Medical Center to dominate.
SCHWERT: Well, I don't think that was ever the point of this was to makethe Medical Center a cancer into the Arts and Science School. People had no interest in that--(laughs)--at all.
SCHWERT: That means an awful lot of teaching and hard work to do that,but we did think that in the research areas we could be of substantial use, but it all came to nothing.
SMOOT: Yes. What about the local community support for the developmentof the Medical Center?
SCHWERT: Well, in the beginning, to be quite blunt, the, well, this is62:00in two areas. The community generally, I think, was very supportive and wanted the Medical Center here and at least in all public utterances indicated the fact that they thought having a Med-, Medical Center here was a good thing. The local physicians were a little wary because if you all of a sudden import a heck of a lot of doctors this is a sober economic threat. I think Dr. Willard, because he had all the problems he needed at that time, elected to make the Medical Center strictly a tertiary care center, a referral center. The thought was that you could get in only if some other physician referred you to it.
SCHWERT: Well, that was all right in that setting at that time, whenthere was pretty abundant state support for the hospital and federal support for all kinds of other things. This kept the Medical Center 63:00physicians out of competition with the community. Well, as I'm sure you know, the whole funding picture for medical centers, university medical centers, has changed very substantially. The federal government has indicated that it's not interested in spending all this money on patient care in those settings and that doctors, if they want to be well paid, better go out and earn their keep and this has been a continuing theme for the last, through the last dean, to get the physicians to where they are supporting themselves pretty much, that they get, relatively speaking, a small payment for physicians for their teaching activities and the rest of their salary is derived from patient care. This means you go out into the community and compete head-on with the people who provide care in this community and 64:00in this part of the state and so this one has, uh, I guess that the twenty-odd years that passed between these two decisions allowed many of the physicians who were bitterly opposed to having any Medi-, any university physician compete with them to age and disappear.
SCHWERT: So that it, it is quite possible that Bill Willard's decisionwas well taken that when you've got a fledgling institution, there's no point in coming head-on with the local practitioners and so he avoided coming head-on by that decision. Now of course there is this other activity, but, uh, I think the gen-, the general community has been very supportive.
SMOOT: Um-hm. Do you remember anything about the Kentucky MedicalFoundation?
SCHWERT: Only, I, I don't know nearly as much of that as many other65:00people do. I think Howard Bost and Bob Straus could probably tell you an awful lot more than I could. I know that they did scrounge together funds to bail the place out a few times when they needed bailing out and that there was a time when there was some court decision about what the--nobody could be paid more than the governor and since practically all the physicians at least who'd been recruited were being paid more than the governor the Kentucky Medical Foundation had to find the means to fill in the gap until that administrative, uh, hassle was resolved. Certainly right now after many years of, uh, not relating very well to the people who have lots of funds in this community, evidently lots of private money is being put into the Medical Center for the cancer center and other activities so that support from that segment of the community seems now to be forthcoming in pretty fair amounts. 66:00
SMOOT: Um-hm. What about the relationship with the University ofLouisville?
SCHWERT: Well, now this goes on at two levels. Professionally we usedto visit Louisville every now and again just to see what folks over there were doing and chatting with them and, uh, as you, I am sure, have been told and know the structure of the two institutions is entirely different, that at that time that they follow the pattern of having, uh, private physicians do most of the teaching in medicine. This cuts the cost of running a medical center down very, very sharply and, uh, so that has been a point that, uh, well, let me back up. I'm not expressing this very well. There was certainly antagonism by the 67:00University of Louisville in the beginning from all I have heard, to having another medical center established. They would vastly have preferred to have that state support funneled to them. Understand that. On the other hand, our relations with the biochemists were always good and jovial and we used to chat back-and-forth periodically. I don't seem to do it much anymore because we're too busy. The University of Louisville, at the time they announced that they were in dire fiscal trouble and would go under if the state didn't take over that university, presented what appeared to be a convincing argument to the state. At the same time, however, they were building essentially an entirely new medical school just at those times they built a whole new physical plant so that, uh, this I will say was a little disquieting to the people here who saw a need for additions to physical 68:00plant while they'd built an entirely new one and a vast one, a physical plant that would support a medical school three times as big as the University of Louisville Medical School is.
SCHWERT: I guess our own feeling, and it may well have been a littleparochial and I'm not persuaded of that yet was that the, by and large we were a substantially better medical school in the point of view people we had and I don't mean to say this in a way that, well, this resulted at least in principal from the business that if you're running a graduate school and that is a big piece of the pre-clinical departments' activities, it's a heck of a lot neater to have physics and chemistry and biology close at hand where you can interact with the, these folks with whom you have, may have shared interests than to be on quite widely separated campuses. 69:00
SCHWERT: So, we were persuaded that at least part of our relativestrength we perceived as coming from the geography of this place.
SCHWERT: And I think too that we did, because it was new, were able torecruit some very good people at that time and Louisville was not in a very strong position for recruiting folks and I think we just had better people than they did.
SMOOT: Um-hm. Do you think that the University of Kentucky's MedicalCenter was looking more towards, uh, working with people in say Eastern Kentucky, had, uh, more of a focus towards the east that the west or was it more of a statewide thing and the east just--
SCHWERT: I think that the intent was to be a statewide institution thatthere was no real geographic division between the domains of these two schools. Now, functionally it probably didn't work that way, but I think that was the goal of the University of Kentucky.
SCHWERT: At that time of course Louisville trained a heck of a lot ofout of state people so that it wasn't, uh, so difficult to see that as 70:00a realistic goal.
SCHWERT: The thing that prevented that, which still prevents it andI don't even, I don't know if you've gotten into the problems of recruiting medical students, but every now again the legislature looks at the distribution of people admitted to medical school at the university and finds that indeed there is a very large disparity in favor of the big, metropolitan centers and then they want to pass some law about you have to have so many from each district or something, but the fact is that there simply not applicants and not qualified people and that it doesn't seem sensible to admit badly qualified people just because they come from a certain area. There are some brownie points given for coming from what are perceived as under-served areas, but that is by no means still the dominant thing which some legislators 71:00would, I think, like to see.
SMOOT: Um-hm. Do you think that a lot of the legislators would simplylike to be able to, uh, help their own political careers with this sort of game?
SCHWERT: I wouldn't say that's beyond possibility. (both laugh)
SMOOT: You talked about the interrelationships with the members of theLouisville, um, department of biochemistry and UK's department and I have heard, uh, discussed about the, when they were planning the architectural design of the Medical Center, uh, it was not only for efficiency, the usual sort of things you think of in architectural design, but also to carry on with the philosophical ideas of Dr. Willard and, and his team and that there should be more interaction with certain departments.
SCHWERT: Yeah, um-hm, yeah, that was all a piece of the building.
SCHWERT: That the medicine, for example, is on one side of a central72:00aisle on two floors. On the other side of that aisle were biochemistry and physiology which would be plainly the two groups that would have the most interface with medicine and, uh, at that time, before the place got so darn big. There was very considerable traffic back-and- forth between those up and down that hall.
SCHWERT: And I, I think that the same thing, surgery and anatomy weretogether for much the same reasons.
SCHWERT: And pathology and microbiology were close so that, yeah,there, there was the scheme that if you did it right geographically it would, uh, serve a use philosophically. I can't quarrel with that because there, I don't know what your experience is in your discipline, but it turns out that in medical centers a stairway is an impossible barrier. If you put people on the same horizontal surface they can get back-and-forth, but if they have to run up and down stairs they're in a 73:00different realm.
SCHWERT: Turns out that physiology is immediately underneath us andwe do have a fair amount of interaction with them, but if you have to go down two layers it's very much more difficult so I guess the ideal medical center would be spread out horizontally forever--(Smoot laughs)--from an educational point of view.
SCHWERT: Unhappily now, uh, while this worked very well in thebeginning and when there weren't too many people involved, uh, as the Department of Medicine gets up to fifties, folks and more, this kind of interaction becomes less and less possible and of course you also have to begin to disperse people because the plant didn't grow in a planned way. You now have people just scattered all over the landscape and so there are large numbers of people in medicine that I assume folks in biochemistry have never laid eyes on and conversely.
SCHWERT: And maybe the solution as to keep building numerous smaller74:00colleges of medicine, but the cost of that is--(both laugh)--a little otherworldly.
SMOOT: Hmm. You mentioned earlier that you, that many of thelocal physicians in particular were fearful of the, uh, economic implications, their own, uh, economic well being, once the Medical Center was established at the University of Kentucky. Do you think that their fears have proven to be well founded or not so?
SCHWERT: I don't think that their fears worked out the way they wereanticipating them, that the group of physicians added to the Medical Center is a fairly small group, but the product of the Medical Center of course over twenty-five years, varying--what is it, seventy-five to 105 times twenty-five--you've turned out one bundle of physicians and a fair number of them have stayed in this area.
SCHWERT: And I think that certainly if you call a physician for anappointment these days you'll get it in much less time than you did 75:00in those days so that I suspect that their, they aren't threatened necessarily, but that the threat has not been from the people who came in from the outside, but the people produced here who are now practicing medicine in Kentucky and I'm sure you know that there is now substantial competition in the press and radio advertising about the virtues of going to this medical center and that medical center for your total health care and, uh, I think is nice, a good development and sort of an economically obvious development. When you get enough folks they're going to have to hustle to provide services.
SMOOT: Hmm. So then would you say that the, uh, impact of the MedicalCenter has been to improve the standards through competition--uh, medical practice generally?
SCHWERT: I think that's undoubtedly true, yeah. This, Lexington had ahigh level of medical practice. I'm not going to say that they were not a sophisticated community of physicians here-- 76:00
SCHWERT: --but I think that, uh, the community and the Medical Centerworking together and in competition that there, this is a better community certainly than it had been. Is, it's gained relatively in stature since then. I guess that the, if you were just going to be entirely philosophical you'd say that quite possibly the aim that Dr. Willard visualized in his heart I think was having small group practices all over Eastern Kentucky which could practice an effective high level of medicine didn't really come to be. Living in Eastern Kentucky, even for small groups, isn't all that attractive. So young physicians who go there find themselves drifting back into the civilization that harbors, communities with more amenities.
SCHWERT: Raising, uh, children Eastern Kentucky community seems to besomething that people don't want to do. 77:00
SMOOT: Yes. What would you identify as the major achievements of, ofyour department over the years that you worked with that department?
SCHWERT: Oh, hmm, I think we've put together a really good teachingprogram for medical students. It stresses them substantially and that is also part of the aim of course. That you don't find out how tall you are until you stand up as straight as you can be and, uh, I think our program has been good and is good. I think that we have had a substantial number of pretty fair graduate students, better than pretty fair, some of them have been excellent and I think that, uh, the group has done its full share of participation in college and university activities. I think that, uh, well, Mary Sue Coleman for example, has been one of the leaders in this cancer research coordination role. 78:00She's done that very effectively and, uh, I, I don't know how you'd point to a specific thing. I think that we've been a strong university department and sort of done our darndest to be that.
SMOOT: Um-hm. How would you say that the graduates of the University ofKentucky, in medicine particularly and its related fields, have done? How have they stacked up with other graduates from other institutions?
SCHWERT: Well, the, that's very difficult to assess. I, uh, if youjust use the trivial means of measuring things, you know, there're the medical college admissions test scores, by and large historically, Kentucky graduates come in a little below average. 79:00
SCHWERT: And I'm not going to try to explain that, it's just a fact.
SCHWERT: And the, uh, board scores at the end, they come out average orin some cases a little above some years. Okay. So they, we haven't lost ground. Now, many people will argue that these are lousy measures of anything that has to do with medicine. I'm not sure about the MCAT scores, but certainly the board scores. It's sort of a measure of are you technically competent enough not to be a threat rather than are you good and, uh, then the internship appraisal things, in the main, indicate that our graduates stack up well with other interns and often that they're a little more concerned about the human aspects of medicine than graduates of other institutions so conceivably that philosophy that Bill Willard and Bob Straus tried to promote works, but beyond 80:00that you are asking something that's been such a dang, uh, problem to medicine. How do you evaluate somebody as being a good physician?
SCHWERT: And, uh, I really can't, I happen to have a little faith myselfthat the brighter you are the better, may be of some help to you and the people I try to go to are those whom I regard as reasonably bright, but that is entirely a personal thing. (laughs) That's not a very global judgment about this. I think that, I guess my feeling is that we, considering the group we start with, we turn out a pretty fair group of potential physicians. There are some who aren't worth a damn and many who are really quite good and that's just about what you'd expect.
[Pause in recording.]
SMOOT: How about your own colleagues, what have their impressions beenof the University of Kentucky as it relates to the medical profession 81:00and, uh, departmentally, et cetera?
SCHWERT: You mean colleagues in the department?
SMOOT: Colleagues in the department and in other departments.
SCHWERT: I see.
SMOOT: Around the United States.
SCHWERT: Oh, well, I think initially they, uh, were pretty impressedwith the potential of the group that had been assembled at the University of Kentucky. I think that, uh, possibly this expectation hasn't, or this posture hasn't been maintained.
SCHWERT: In part because of the business that I mentioned that the statesupport kind of stabilized for an extended period in there for many good reasons and partly because there's the difficulty that when you turn over a chairman in an institution which is now not brand new anymore, it's hard to get somebody quite as lustrous for the second chairman.
SCHWERT: So I think that we may have lost just a little ground that,82:00wouldn't want to point to anybody specific, but that is my overall impression that we are now a, regarded, I think, by my, our colleagues around the world as a substantial journeyman institution, but not one of the great stars.
SCHWERT: Well, I'm not sure that doesn't serve the needs of the statethat, you know, are, suppose it had turned out to be one of the great research centers. I'm afraid that in Kentucky you might then be open to all the political accusations, you're not really concerned about training doctors for Kentucky, all you want to do is train investigators to ship off elsewhere, so that, uh, from the point of view of the Commonwealth that may have worked out all right. From the point of view of image, it's probably lost a little luster.
SMOOT: Um-hm. Do you think there would have been a lot of, of that sortof accusatory posture by the state legislators or other, uh? 83:00
SCHWERT: I think it's a high probability. (laughs)
SMOOT: Hmm, hmm. You mentioned earlier that you, uh, thought GovernorChandler had done a great deal for the--
SMOOT: --Medical Center. What about the, uh, successors, uh, GovernorCombs, Ned Breathitt?
SCHWERT: I think Governor Combs, too, had a very, uh, supportive rolewith respect to the Medical Center.
SCHWERT: Partly because some of the physicians here took care of himthat I suppose gives you some position in an establishment. I think that, who followed Combs?
SCHWERT: I'm not sure about Governor Breathitt. I think Governor Nunnprobably couldn't have cared less, that it was a big drain on state resources and I, my perception was that he was much more concerned about, uh, the stadium and the Northern Kentucky Law School and that 84:00if we was really certain there had ever been a medical school here, it wasn't, didn't enter into his thinking about what the state might do and I can understand that. After all, the governor has a lot of things to look at.
SCHWERT: But I think Combs was very supportive.
SCHWERT: And since then I suspect support has been a little dimmer.
SMOOT: Um-hm. Did you ever become involved with any of the, uh, effortsto, uh, in Frankfort for the Medical Center, for, uh, lobbying-- (laughs)--anything of that nature?
SCHWERT: No, no. Uh, Bill Willard had good relations with people inFrankfort.
SCHWERT: And devoted a lot of time to it, as did his staff and JackOswald made it plain that anybody who spoke to the legislature or to the government was going to be from his office and from no other and this is one thing that I don't think pleased Dr. Willard in the slightest. 85:00
SCHWERT: But he was not the president and I think that Dr. Singletaryhas followed exactly the same practice, both with respect to politics and re-, scrounging up money, that if it isn't done through his office, keep your hands out of it.
SCHWERT: I'm not certain that this has been useful to either the MedicalCenter or to the university to be perfectly blunt.
SCHWERT: Because it does seem to me that, well, some institutions,notably Duke I think, benefited enormously from its Medical Center. There is the dang business if you take care of people and these people are in positions of influence, either because of power or money.
SCHWERT: They regard you with a warm glow if their status has beenimproved and if the same darn sort of, uh, use is made of this warm glow by the medical center and by the university there's not much to 86:00lose. A grateful patient is a good thing to have on your side and you can't generate a grateful patient any place except in a medical center in the main and I think that the, uh, well, it might have meant that the vice-president for the Medical Center would have been a force for the president to contend with. I think that it might not have been a bad thing for the university to let the Medical Center on a little looser rein just because it is a piece of the university and if that piece looks good the rest of it doesn't look too bad.
SCHWERT: So that I'm not at all certain that that was a good decisionto take.
SCHWERT: But it was the decision that was taken and has been taken.But, uh, Dr. Singletary and Dr. Oswald neither one wished to have faculty or their other administrators involved in these roles at all. It was Ben Eiseman, I believe, he was the first chairman of surgery, 87:00to leave this place in a flurry because he could lay hands on lots of money from people who were grateful to him and whom the surgeons have done good to and if you were told not to it doesn't exactly charm a chairman of surgery.
SMOOT: Um-hm. What about support from the state and federal governmentsfor medical programs here?
SCHWERT: I can only speak with any clarity to the, uh, researchbusiness. That support from the state, the state has supported salaries from many private institutions and Governor, Dr. Willard--
SCHWERT: --was insistent that we not get a whole bunch of faculty ontosoft money. He thought that an institution can get into terrible troubles doing that and some have, as you well know. So, state supported salaries and that is more than many private institutions do. 88:00
SCHWERT: The amount that was put up for research support is really notsignificant, but happily the people in the department have been able to lay hands on adequate funds to keep a good research program running, so, uh, I guess that I can't quarrel with the business that competing for research funds is good for the investigator and good for the effort because having funds just handed to you is almost certain it will lead people to strive just a little less hard than they might if they had to compete, it's just a piece of human nature.
SCHWERT: So I, I would say that the, uh, you know, every now and againpeople get unhappy. If we had more space it would have been nice, but I can't say that I think that we were short changed by the state or by federal government for the activities that our department was 89:00concerned with. Now, for care and running hospitals, all that's beyond me, happily.
SMOOT: Hmm. You participated in lots of, uh, organizations, uh,membership in various professional organizations. Uh, could you tell me a little bit about your participation with those groups?
SCHWERT: Well, actually the, uh, American Society of Biological Chemistsis probably the principal one.
SCHWERT: And, uh, this is an outfit that you get nominated to by a fewmembers after it's been, you've demonstrated some research capability and at one time when I was elected to the darn thing--when was that, 1949, I think--the membership was only about five hundred people or 90:00something. You knew most of the members by sight and by name because biochemistry was a small enterprise. Now I don't know how many thousand members and obviously you can't come close to knowing them. This, I was involved in various things like the membership committee and the election committee and, uh, oh, the educational, what, we were the committee that was concerned with education of biochemists. So, uh, this was a good experience. The principal activities of this committee are, or of the society are strictly toward research. It sponsors one big meeting a year where maybe, used to meet with the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology--
SCHWERT: --until those meetings got so huge that, uh, well, back up.That federation started out way back, around 1910, with the idea that 91:00people in different disciplines needed to get together now and again and to share points of view. Well, when these societies like physiology and biochemistry and microbiology were little this was possible. When you got to where you were getting sixteen thousand people at one of these meetings, this interaction disappeared, so that the biochemists now hold their own meetings two years out of three essentially, but again these are very large meetings, many papers and reports and lots of apparatus is shown off and you get to talk to people from different institutions and understand what's going on in their institutions you know, it's sort of a state fair for biochemists, show off my pumpkin and you show off your pumpkin and so on. And it's a very useful group. The other, the principal activity of this whole thing is to publish the Journal of Biological Chemistry, which is beyond doubt I think the principal research journal in the field, in the world. Last time I 92:00looked there were some fourteen thousand pages published a year so that about two years worth fills up a large bookshelf, huge journal.
SCHWERT: I was on the editorial board of this at one time and there wereabout, oh I guess, thirty people and, uh, it was run so that the editor would look at a manuscript and send it out to somebody and if you thought it was worth publishing you said so and one editor, one member of the board, could say yes, but it took two to say no and so sometimes you got into hassles with other members, but there were only twenty- five and it went pretty easily. As the field grew and the size of the journal grew, now there must be a hundred members of the editorial board. It's a vast enterprise.
SCHWERT: And the editor has about six or seven associate editors forsub-fields and, uh, so that the coziness of the whole arrangement has 93:00disappeared, but it's still a tremendous research and publishing effort to get this done each year.
SCHWERT: And the American Chemical Society, really, I haven't had muchshare in, the American Chemical Society, really focuses most of its attentions on industrial chemistry and while they publish journals that I'm interested in, the meetings and interaction with that group haven't been all that productive, so I quit going a long time ago--(Smoot laughs)--to those meetings. I don't know what other organizations, the, uh, Biochemical Society of Great Britain, again, I joined that largely because, uh, the publishing of journals, cheaper if you're a member. (Smoot laughs)
SMOOT: Okay. Um, I want to step back just a moment.
SMOOT: With, with Dr. Willard.
SMOOT: Um, how would you assess his administration and theadministrations which succeeded him? 94:00
SCHWERT: Well, from internally, in the beginning, his administrationwas very crisp, I thought, that, uh, when something came up that was an issue that he wanted opinions on he would set everybody around the table and state the problem that he wished to discuss.
SCHWERT: And would ask people in turn around the table to say what theyhad in mind and when you arrived back at him again as far as he, wa-, he didn't want to hear more. You had one shot to say what your point of view was. He didn't want any discussions across the table and any large-scale debates. He wanted to hear what people thought and if there was not a coherence of point of view, why, he would just tell the group he'd take it under advisement and let 'em know where he came out. So that it was a, I thought, rather crisp administrative style. You 95:00had your say, if you happened to have a personality where your nose got bent because your advice wasn't taken it doesn't work, but I don't know of any administrative system that does work that way. So that you, you got a shot at spouting off what you thought was important and how things should be done and that was it. He didn't want a whole lot of backbiting and chewing on each other that he would then tell you how this ought to go. I think that Jack Oswald, when he came in and elected to be the dominant personality in the university with a capital D, that he really cramped Bill Willard's style very considerably, that he had evolved this technique and it was, I'm sure, his understanding with President Dickey that the Medical Center was his bailiwick and that as long as he ran it in a way that was satisfactory to the university the 96:00details were of little concern to the president. Jack Oswald wanted this to be the, principal administrator, I think, in all areas. I'm not sure that was at all a good decision because I'm not sure that a president, the average president, can come close to doing that.
SCHWERT: But he, uh, made it quite plain that he did not want that styleof administration where Bill took a very strong local leadership role and as you are aware the, uh, administrative regs were ---------??. Present this I think from what I suppose was Jack Oswald's point of view that the university had been run as a bunch of little, private fiefs pretty much, where one dean sat there with his thumb on all the 97:00buttons and that little happened without that and I think that to break up that system Jack insisted that he have a great deal more authority and that many decisions be relegated to committees of the faculty and that is, I'm sure you know, is the, a system that is now followed in arts and sciences to a high degree. It, bluntly, is followed to a much smaller degree in medicine because of the perception, certainly in the clinical department, that you really can't vote on a lot of things about hospital procedures and medical care.
SCHWERT: But somebody is in charge and has full responsibility and thatthis is not a democratic operation and so that procedure has not been executed that well there and I think also the philosophical thing, then the Medical Center people think that it takes an awful lot of time to be too darn democratic about a great many administrative things and 98:00that it's a lot more effective to have somebody making a wide range of decisions just to get the job done and if you really don't find that this person is doing it that well, you have the choice either of agitating to get rid of him or leaving the place, but that, uh, being democratic about an awful lot of things in an institution like a medical center, is a job that never ends, that you can spend endless effort talking about things that don't amount to that and that it's a, uh, total waste of effort. So, I think that in, uh, order to break that, that's a footnote obviously, in order to break up what I think Jack Oswald saw as a stranglehold of certain deans over some colleges he insisted that all the deans give up a certain amount of power. I think in Bill Willard's case, he didn't exactly have a stranglehold, he listened to a wide range of points of view, but then when the 99:00decision was taken, that was it. I mean he didn't anticipate further discussion, that when he had told you the way he wanted things done, he perceived of that as having been decided. Well, I thought that was a perfectly good arrangement myself.
SCHWERT: And, uh, after Jack separated the job of dean and vice-president for the Medical Center I think Bill felt somewhat adrift. He could never, he was interested in the educational process, well, that was supposed to be the dean's point of view and he was supposed to be pretty much a financial sort of administrator and to int-, integrate the way in which all pharmacy and nursing and all these things fit-, dentistry fitted together and I think he felt a lot less comfortable in that restricted role.
SCHWERT: And wasn't nearly as effective.
SMOOT: What about afterwards, after Dr. Willard leaves, what do you100:00think of, uh, the administration of the Medical Center?
SCHWERT: (pause) Well, I think that the administration of the MedicalCenter reflects very closely the philosophy of Dr. Singletary and that is that, uh, Bill Willard, I think, saw himself as the administrative officer for the Medical Center who reported to the president, but he ran the Medical Center according to his best likes of how it should be done.
SCHWERT: I think that Dr. Bosomworth regards himself as the president'svice-president that he is not in charge of major, I may be doing an injustice, but the major decisions about how that chunk of the 101:00university are dependent on the president's wish and not on his wish is my perception of how this runs.
SCHWERT: And I, I've heard people on occasion say something to thatgeneral effect, but, uh, that is my perception at least--
SCHWERT: --initiative. Now, with the business of establishingchancellors I suspect that this may have changed to a degree. Maybe Pete has gotten back a lot more dimensions of action than he had for a time. My own feeling is that that would be good, but, uh, that's how I saw things.
SMOOT: Um-hm. What directions would you like to see the Medical Centertake in the future?
SCHWERT: Oh man. (pause) That is--(laughs)--that long pause, in the102:00area of medicine in medical practice I am not going to say boo because that is these days such a morass. The whole medical profession is busy studying itself and trying to get itself reorganized and the vast input of third party money and all just makes that problem something that I have no feeling for. With respect to the research, research training, I guess that I would still see that there is a need for some 103:00kind of a major effort to bring a form of integration into biology on the entire campus. Well you can't do this administratively, the teaching responsibilities are different, I think that in many ways this has improved just because it, or is developing, just because there is not the wariness and the suspicion of all these outsiders that came into the Medical Center. Been a large turnover of people in arts and sciences and there's getting to be more and more cooperation between the groups in biology. I guess I would be kind of pleased to think that if there were to be an effort by the university to develop some sort of a center of excellence in this area involving people in all way--agriculture, arts and sciences and medicine--that, that would be a substantial and worthwhile effort for this university and for any university because I am persuaded that, well, you know, an awful lot 104:00of money has been spent in biological engineering and I think that most people who have been involved in that field perceive that we are at a less advanced stage in the realization of this certainly than the application of computers for example to education. Everybody keeps pointing to this as the great wave of the future and, uh, many educators are pers-, have talked themselves into believing this. I think a much bigger development is going to be the effects of biological engineering on plants. Good gracious, if you've got the genes for, uh, fixing nitrogen into corn for example you could grow corn a hundred feet high with kernels that weighed fifty pounds essentially. (both laugh) You know, the, we are at a stage where the potential for doing, kind of marvelous things is at hand. It's going to cost money and take time, but to see a, kind of a major effort in that area would be kind of 105:00nifty and something that might, the university, I think, might be well advised to do. The only problem is that it's hard to do because Cal Tech, MIT and the University of California also see these things and are recruiting large numbers of very capable people into their domains, but, uh, I guess that is probably as far as I see at the moment. It, it turns out again. I've not mentioned it very much. I had touched on agriculture. Our relations with agriculture, by and large, have been pretty good. We've served on many, many doctoral committees and have an arrangement where one of the folks in agriculture teaches a plant biochemistry course that's in our program and their program here where there is essentially a little clearer dividing line between what groups 106:00in agriculture and medical centers do. It seems to be a lot easier to cooperate than in the arts and sciences group where that line is not so sharply drawn, which I guess is perfectly natural behavior.
SMOOT: Um-hm. Professor, are there any other subjects you think weshould discuss or that you would like to discuss regarding the Medical Center, the university--anything else that you think I should have touched on that I didn't touch on?
SCHWERT: Well, I, uh, not right off hand. I guess I'm a little wearyat the moment. If I, I might drop you a note. I guess the thing that I think is the strength of our particular little group and I might just touch on briefly are the people we've had. You know, that first year we had Bob Lester who was, served as chairman, Dick Schweet and 107:00the three of us taught the course together and then Al Winer and Billy Winer came to join--Al in biochemistry and Billy in anatomy-- because, uh, they had both been at Duke when Bill Knisely and I were there and the, and John Ditmer and David White. You know we've had a substantial list of really very capable people. Fred Wallum came later and Bob Rhodes and Mary Sue Coleman and that, uh, these are the folks that have made that little enterprise go and I just, I, I really ought to mention the, uh, capacities and skills of all these folks who've been so darn useful to the place. Guess that's about it probably.
SMOOT: All right.
SCHWERT: If anything else comes to mind that I think you ought to hearthat I didn't say, I might drop you a note.
SMOOT: I'd appreciate that. Let me thank you--
SMOOT: --for taking the time this morning to talk with me and I'veenjoyed it and I hope you have too.
SCHWERT: I've enjoyed it. It's been kind of fun to do.
SMOOT: Very good. Thank you.
[End of interview.]