Kicking Joe McCarthy Out of the Lab

In April 1954, I was one of thousands of biomedical scientists who gathered as usual for the annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). On this occasion, however, we received an unexpected shock. Rumors were circulating—with circumstantial detail that left little doubt as to their truth—that some highly regarded investigators, previously supported in their unclassified research by the U.S. Public Health Service, had found their grant appl

John Edsall
Jun 28, 1987
In April 1954, I was one of thousands of biomedical scientists who gathered as usual for the annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). On this occasion, however, we received an unexpected shock. Rumors were circulating—with circumstantial detail that left little doubt as to their truth—that some highly regarded investigators, previously supported in their unclassified research by the U.S. Public Health Service, had found their grant applications rejected without explanation or their existing grants revoked. All they could learn was that these decisions were based on in-formation in their security files from unknown informers. The nature and sources of the charges were not revealed to them; the scientists had no opportunity for rebuttal. Such rejection—in terms of lost funding and clouded reputations—could be disastrous for the investigator and for other people supported by the grant. The scientific community was buzzing: who would be the next...