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To Improve Human Health: A History of the Institute of Medicine
preoccupied the Board on Medicine, so structural matters consumed the time of Fred Robbins. Although the IOM survived the challenges that arose between 1980 and 1985, the ordeal sapped some of the organization's energy that could otherwise have gone into its expansion.
Searching for Frederick Robbins
In picking David Hamburg's successor, the IOM knew it had a reasonable amount of lead time. Hamburg announced his resignation at the beginning of 1979, and a new IOM president would not have to be in place until the fall of 1980. In March 1979, the IOM created a search committee, composed of members of the Executive Committee, two other members of the IOM Council, and one former Council member. This group selected William Danforth, the chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, to be its chairman. At its first meeting, the search committee elaborated on the desirable qualities for an IOM president. Some of the characteristics, such as "leadership ability" or a "knack for institution building," were self-evident, but others revealed a great deal about the culture of the IOM. Membership in the National Academy of Sciences was "desirable but not essential"; an M.D. degree was "preferable but not decisive." The committee noted that a ''research scientist" might be acceptable if he or she had ''good rapport with" and "recognized stature in" the health professional community, implying that it was unlikely the search committee would select, for example, an economist. The IOM was about medicine and would, in all likelihood, be lead by a medical doctor, preferably one who knew something about health policy, who had gained an international perspective on the issues, and who had an "appreciation of the need for constant attention to fund-raising."3
The search committee looked for help from two individuals. One was Walsh McDermott, who had been active in all of the previous searches and was the resident expert on the IOM's original mission. The other was Julius Richmond, who had chaired the previous search, which was widely regarded as a great success, and who was in touch with the latest developments in health policy through his government post as Assistant Secretary of Health. The committee's choice of advisers reflected its desire to keep the selection process within the IOM family and not to broaden the search much beyond the IOM and the world of academic medicine. The committee decided, for example, not to advertise the position in a widely circulated publication such as the New York Times. Instead of putting an ad in a newspaper or