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To Improve Human Health: A History of the Institute of Medicine
two projects of the Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, one on Agent Orange and the other on unintended pregnancy, took the IOM farther into the realm of controversy.
The Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention functioned as one of the IOM's busiest divisions during the presidency of Kenneth Shine. The division administered many of the IOM's convening functions such as the National Forum on the Future of Children and Families, the National Forum on Health Statistics, and the Roundtable for the Development of Drugs and Vaccines Against AIDS. It also assisted in the process of selecting the winner of the Gustav O. Lienhard Award, a prestigious prize that the IOM conferred on accomplished members of the health community for achievement in improving personal health care services. Often this award went to people who had played a prominent role in the development of the IOM itself. In 1993, for example, David E. Rogers, the Walsh McDermott University Professor of Medicine at Cornell University and previously the head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, received the award. In other years, the award went to Robert Ball, the former Social Security commissioner and resident scholar at the Institute of Medicine, and Julius Richmond, President Carter's Surgeon General and "pro tem" head of the Institute of Medicine between Donald Fredrickson and David Hamburg.
Like other Institute of Medicine components, the staff of the Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention spent most of its time not on convening or honorific functions but on the conduct of actual studies, such as the one begun in 1992 on Agent Orange. The study stemmed from a congressional request, contained in a law passed at the beginning of 1991, for the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study of the health effects of Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War. The military used these herbicides as a way of clearing the underbrush that obscured the targets of aerial bombing or provided cover for enemy soldiers intent on killing American and South Vietnamese forces. Although most of the herbicides, including the widely used Agent Orange (named after the color of the barrel in which it came), were sprayed from airplanes, some were dispersed from tanks on the backs of soldiers. Use of the herbicides sparked considerable controversy, first from groups concerned about the use of chemical agents in warfare and then from veterans who complained about the health effects of these herbicides. In 1970, Congress directed the National Academy of Sciences to study the ecological and physiological effects of the use of herbicides in South Vietnam. In a 1974 report, an NAS committee did not find definitive evidence of an association between exposure to herbicides