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October 19th, 1971- Forgotten Milestone: Nixon’s Bold Move

I am hoping the National Cancer Institute can get Congress to pass a resolution of thanks to President Nixon. October 19th marks the 45th anniversary of President Nixon going to Fort Detrick to announce it would be converted from a biological warfare facility to a facility for cancer research.

How did we get to this remarkable event in the history of human peace and health?

In November of 1969, President Nixon prohibited offensive biological research in the United States. Fort Detrick continued defensive research focusing on treatment and public health issues. In January of 1971, the President requested an additional $100 million in the budget to find a cure for cancer. This became a national goal to save lives.

A few months after making the conversion announcement at Fort Detrick, President Nixon signed his National Cancer Act into law. The President said…

“I hope in the years ahead we will look back on this action today as the most significant action taken during my Administration.”

In 2005, the former director of the NCI  Doctor Vincent DeVita noted that the morbidity rate from cancer- comparing 1971 to 2005 – was like “night and day.” (See:  Haran C. Vince DeVita: the view from the top. Cancer World June–July 2005;38–43.)

Everything we have today can be traced back to a bold initiative to save lives- by President Nixon. We owe him eternal thanks.  I just hope we don’t forget what he did.

nixon-detrickPresident Nixon at Fort Detrick in 1971


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