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To Improve Human Health: A History of the Institute of Medicine
David Hamburg Arrives
The departure of Donald Fredrickson put a strain on the IOM, which had gone through two presidents in less than five years. Most of the effort to pick up the pieces fell to Julius Richmond, the distinguished child psychiatrist who acted as vice chairman pro tem of the IOM Council. Much as Robert J. Glaser had filled the void between Walsh McDermott and John Hogness, so Richmond, ably assisted by Roger Bulger, kept things together in the spring and summer of 1975. He quickly constituted the Executive Committee of the Council as a search committee and set it to work finding a new IOM president.
The fact that the IOM had searched for a president less than two years earlier facilitated the process. The same short list that had been developed in the summer of 1973 could also be used in the spring of 1975. Although Richmond encouraged members to submit nominations and generated a list of more than 60 names, he and his committee concentrated from the first on a few, select candidates. On June 19, the IOM Council culled through the names and designated David Hamburg as its first choice. The NAS Council moved quickly to confirm the selection, although Philip Handler objected to being given only one name to consider. Richmond explained that although the Council had other candidates in mind, it had not "ranked them as clearly as we had Dr. Hamburg." Handler acquiesced, in part because Hamburg had been the second choice less than two years before and would, in effect, be filling Fredrickson's unexpired term. On June 26, 1975, Handler wrote to Hamburg and offered him the job.2
David Hamburg's acceptance of the offer depended on a set of circumstances as bizarre as the IOM had ever encountered. Because Hamburg was in Dar es Salaam, Handler's letter reached him very slowly. Hamburg had gone there to negotiate the release of four Stanford students who had been kidnapped by Zairian rebels. On July 19, 1975, Hamburg reported to Handler that three of the four students had been freed without harm, "but the negotiating process for the fourth is very difficult." In the meantime, he and his wife were discussing Handler's offer.3 The kidnapping incident delayed the recruiting process and meant that Roger Bulger effectively ran the IOM from the beginning of July until the beginning of November. Formal announcement of Hamburg's appointment came only at the end of October.
Born in 1925, David Alan Hamburg spent his childhood and received much of his education in Indiana, graduating from the University of Indiana Medical School in 1947. After taking three