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Judith L. Pearson Author Photo

Judith L. Pearson On Mary Lasker, The “Catalytic Agent” Who Revolutionized U.S. Medical Research

Mary Lasker’s name is perhaps unknown to many people living today, yet so many of us owe a debt to her incredible life’s work. A former art gallerist, Lasker combined her political brilliance with her access to lawmakers to not only shift public thinking around cancer and other diseases, but also bring in a previously unimaginable sum of money to kickstart medical research in the United States. This self-described “catalytic agent” spent several decades on her goal to end human suffering, and her accomplishments number founding the Lasker Foundation, retooling the American Cancer Society and jumpstarting their donor base, and transforming the National Institutes of Health into the medical research powerhouse they remain today. Along the way, she developed close friendships with some of the most powerful people in the United States. But Lasker faced significant pushback from the media and lawmakers. In Crusade to Heal America: The Remarkable Life Of Mary Lasker, Judith L. Pearson brings Lasker to vivid life, diving deep into her extraordinary friendships, her arduous journey to reshape how the medical field (and general public) viewed diseases, and her extraordinary love story with her husband Albert. A fascinating biography that whisks the reader from New York high society to medical labs to the White House, Pearson’s book shines a long-overdue light on the brilliant life of a true American hero. Pearson spoke with us about how Lasker’s political acumen, tireless drive, and rich friendships brought about her formidable accomplishments.