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Bodey (Gerald), Sr. MD, Oral History Interview: Home

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An Interview Profile summarizes this individual’s role, specialization, and contributions to MD Anderson.

A Table of Contents shows the range of topics covered in each interview session: each chapter title links to a chapter summary.

Chapter Summaries describe the specific topics treated in each section; each summary links to the corresponding recording so you can listen to the chapter.

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Interview Profile

 

 

Submitted: 11 July 2014

Interview Information:

Three interview sessions: 19 June 2013, 25 June 2013, 23 July 2013
Total approximate duration: 4 hours and 50 minutes
Interviewer: Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D.

About the Interview Subject:

Gerald P. Bodey, M.D. (b. 22 May 1934, Hazleton, Pennsylvania) came to MD Anderson in 1966 as an Associate Professor of Medicine (and Associate Internist) in the Department of Developmental Therapeutics.  He served as Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases (1975 – 1995) and, Chief of Chemotherapy in the Department of Developmental Therapeutics (1975 – 1983). He is known for his work in specialist in infectious diseases. Early in his career he published  Quantitative Relationships between Circulating Leukocytes and Infection in Patients with Acute Leukemia –described as a “citation classic” and one of the three most important papers on infectious diseases.  This established the direction of his research: in collaboration with Dr. Emil J Freireich, he established MD Anderson as a major U.S. leukemia center and studied the effect of virtually every antibiotic and antifungal agent on leukemia patients.  In 1977, directed the construction of twenty laminar air-flow patient units on the top floor of the Lutheran Pavilion –the first units ever to be built into a medical installation (rather than added on).

Dr. Bodey served as Chair of the Department of Medical Specialties from 1987 to his retirement 1995.  He also served as Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control, and Employee Health.  He is now an emeritus professor of medicine. 

Major Topics Covered:

Personal and educational background; faith

Research: bacterial and fungal infectious diseases and leukemia; chemotherapy and anti-bacterial/anti-fungal agents; laminar air-flow and infection control

Collaborations with Emil J Freireich, MD

Relationships between researchers and pharmaceutical companies

The Department of Developmental Therapeutics

The Laminar Air-Flow Units

Changes in patient care

The Office of Research Protocol: history, directing

The Department of Medical Specialties

 

Regarding the Transcript and Audio Files

In accordance with oral history best practices, this transcript was intentionally created to preserve the conversational language of the interview sessions.  (Language has not been edited to conform to written prose).

The interview subject was given the opportunity to review the transcript.  Any requested editorial changes are indicated in brackets [ ], and the audio file has not correspondingly altered. 

Redactions to the transcript and audio files may have been made in response to the interview subject’s request or to eliminate personal health information in compliance with HIPAA.

The views expressed in this interview are solely the perspective of the interview subject. They are not to be interpreted as the official view of any other individual or of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.


Interview Navigation Material

Interview Profile

Submitted: 11 July 2014

Interview Information:

Three interview sessions: 19 June 2013, 25 June 2013, 23 July 2013
Total approximate duration: 4 hours and 50 minutes
Interviewer: Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D.

About the Interview Subject:

Gerald P. Bodey, M.D. (b. 22 May 1934, Hazleton, Pennsylvania) came to MD Anderson in 1966 as an Associate Professor of Medicine (and Associate Internist) in the Department of Developmental Therapeutics.  He served as Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases (1975 – 1995) and, Chief of Chemotherapy in the Department of Developmental Therapeutics (1975 – 1983). He is known for his work in specialist in infectious diseases. Early in his career he published  Quantitative Relationships between Circulating Leukocytes and Infection in Patients with Acute Leukemia –described as a “citation classic” and one of the three most important papers on infectious diseases.  This established the direction of his research: in collaboration with Dr. Emil J Freireich, he established MD Anderson as a major U.S. leukemia center and studied the effect of virtually every antibiotic and antifungal agent on leukemia patients.  In 1977, directed the construction of twenty laminar air-flow patient units on the top floor of the Lutheran Pavilion –the first units ever to be built into a medical installation (rather than added on).

Dr. Bodey served as Chair of the Department of Medical Specialties from 1987 to his retirement 1995.  He also served as Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control, and Employee Health.  He is now an emeritus professor of medicine. 

Major Topics Covered:

Personal and educational background; faith

Research: bacterial and fungal infectious diseases and leukemia; chemotherapy and anti-bacterial/anti-fungal agents; laminar air-flow and infection control

Collaborations with Emil J Freireich, MD

Relationships between researchers and pharmaceutical companies

The Department of Developmental Therapeutics

The Laminar Air-Flow Units

Changes in patient care

The Office of Research Protocol: history, directing

The Department of Medical Specialties

 

Regarding the Transcript and Audio Files

In accordance with oral history best practices, this transcript was intentionally created to preserve the conversational language of the interview sessions.  (Language has not been edited to conform to written prose).

The interview subject was given the opportunity to review the transcript.  Any requested editorial changes are indicated in brackets [ ], and the audio file has not correspondingly altered. 

Redactions to the transcript and audio files may have been made in response to the interview subject’s request or to eliminate personal health information in compliance with HIPAA.

Chapter Summaries

 

 

Interview Session One: 19 June 2013 (listen/read)

Chapter 00A
Interview Identifier (listen/read)

 

Chapter 01 (Educational Path) 
Education Leading to Work with J Freireich at the NCI (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • Personal Background
  • Professional Path
  • Military Experience
  • Inspirations to Practice Science/Medicine
  • Influences from People and Life Experiences
  • Faith
  • Overview
  • Definitions, Explanations, Translations
  • The Researcher
  • The Clinician
  • Understanding Cancer, the History of Science, Cancer Research
  • The History of Health Care, Patient Care

Dr. Bodey begins by noting that his father was a minister and he himself originally planned to become a medical missionary.  He describes the medical role models he saw around him, including the family physician who suggested that he apply to Johns Hopkins Medical School.  Dr. Bodey explains how the draft for the Vietnam War led him to apply for a position as a clinical associate Dr. Emil [J] Freireich at the NCI in Bethesda Maryland (’62 – ’65).  He next moved to Seattle, WA for his residency.

Dr. Bodey then gives an overview of how infectious diseases effect cancer patients and traces how his interest in the specialty grew during the sixties.  He became interested in the problem while working at the NCI with Dr. Freireich.  His interest in cancer dates a little earlier.  He notes that during medical school, he worked with Dr. George Gey, who published a book on a patient with endometrial cancer: Dr. Bodey did some of his own research under Dr. Gey and learned about tissue growth.

 

Chapter 02 (Joining MD Anderson/Coming to Texas) 
Recruited by J Freireich and Moving the Family to Texas (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • Personal Background
  • The Researcher
  • Professional Path
  • Discovery, Creativity and Innovation
  • The Professional at Work
  • Patients, Treatment, Survivors
  • Research, Care, and Education
  • Character, Values, Beliefs
  • Joining MD Anderson

Dr. Bodey begins this Chapter by noting that during his residency he realized that he would not be a medical missionary.  However, in 1966 he was recruited by Dr. Emil [J] Freireich to join the Department of Developmental Therapeutics.  He recalls his trip to Houston to visit the Department and his decision to relocate because of the professional opportunities MD Anderson offered.

 

Chapter 03 (The Researcher) 
New Research in the Department of Developmental Therapeutics (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • MD Anderson Snapshot
  • MD Anderson History
  • The Researcher
  • The Clinician
  • Overview
  • Definitions, Explanations, Translations
  • Discovery and Success
  • Professional Practice
  • The Professional at Work
  • Ethics
  • On Pharmaceutical Companies and Industry
  • Industry Partnerships
  • Discovery, Creativity and Innovation
  • Patients
  • Patients, Treatment, Survivors
  • Research, Care, and Education
  • Character, Values, Beliefs

Dr. Bodey begins this Chapter by recalling that Developmental Therapeutics was a unique place devoted to research on the diagnosis and treatment of leukemia patients.  He comments on the role of pharmaceutical companies such as the Beecham Group and Pfizer in providing institutions with antiobiotics for testing.  He studied the effect of carbenicillin on pseudomonas (a gram negative bacteria) resulting in a drop in mortality from seventy or eighty percent to twenty percent.  He notes other research project, his interest in chemo therapy, and the role of the NCI in supporting work on antibiotics.

Dr. Bodey then explains that he had very good relationships with the drug companies.  Only on rare occasions did he have to refuse a drug company’s request to do or say something because it seemed unethical.  He speculates on why the situation has changed since the sixties.

Dr. Bodey then quickly sketches his work on antibiotic combinations, explaining why pairing drugs can work.  He covers the problem of resistance and how drug resistances can be specific to an institution.  Dr. Bodey next notes a big problem for leukemia patients: they will start out with bacterial infections and then get fungal infections, with candida representing the biggest problem.  He explains hepatosplenic candidiasis.

Dr. Bodey tells an anecdote from his residency in Seattle that shows his gift for treating infections.  He was on rounds and “somehow was attuned to the fact” that a patient had candida in the liver and spleen.  Dr. Bodey gave the patient an antifungal drug leading to recovery.

Dr. Bodey notes that he may have investigated the first pairing of two beta-lactam drugs, cefoperazone plus aztreonam.  He notes that he studied the prophylactic use of drugs, explaining that patient at risk would often die of infection before receiving their full course of treatment for leukemia.

 

Chapter 04 (The Researcher) 
Building MD Anderson’s Laminar Air-Flow Hospital Units (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • Overview
  • Definitions, Explanations, Translations
  • The Researcher
  • The Clinician
  • Industry Partnerships
  • Patients
  • Patients, Treatment, Survivors
  • Cancer and Disease

Dr. Bodey begins this Chapter by providing some background on the first laminar airflow unit developed by J.M. Matthews.  The early units were called “life islands” and Dr. Bodey describes the protective environment they provided against organisms.  MD Anderson had some units in 1966, and Dr. Bodey recalls one patient who remained in a unit for about a year. 

Dr. Bodey describes some of the challenges of setting up the units to be completely sterile environments.  He then describes in more detail how the laminar flow of air originated on one wall of the unit, with the filtered air all flowing in one direction.  The patient would be located as close as possible to the source of the filtered air.

Dr. Bodey then recalls that he had difficulty convincing Dr. R. Lee Clark to fund laminar air-flow units, as they were expensive to operate and took up three beds for every two, resulting in a loss of income for the institution.  Dr. Clark eventually agreed to fund two units.  When the Lutheran Pavilion was constructed, funds were allocated to build twenty units on the top floor.  Dr. Bodey explains that the staff offices were in the center of the floor plan, with the laminar air-floor units arranged an a circle around them.  The outermost ring was a corridor that family members could use to visit with patients by telephone: the walls of the patient units along the corridor were glass.

Dr. Bodey recalls that the NCI also gave grants to support the units. He recalls working with an air conditioning company in Albuquerque, New Mexico: they created the air flow system.  Dr. Bodey notes that the laminar air-flow units were the last elements of the Lutheran Pavilion to be built.  He describes some of the investigations that were run on the units to identify and quantify the organisms presents in the units: studies of organisms on the patients’ skin; studies of how sterile the environments remained.  He concludes this Chapter by noting that, given their cost to build and operate, the benefits of the units were not dramatic enough to warrant continued operation. The institution ceased using them after 1995 and now semi-protective units are used in some circumstances.

[The recorder is next paused for about 5 minutes]

 

Chapter 05 (The Researcher) 
Outreach Overseas and Some Post-Retirement Activities (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • Activities Outside Institution
  • Overview
  • Career and Accomplishments
  • Post Retirement Activities
  • Dedication to MD Anderson, to Patients, to Faculty/Staff
  • Personal Reflections, Memories of MD Anderson
  • Personal Background
  • MD Anderson Culture
  • Growth and/or Change

Dr. Bodey comments on some of his activities involving international groups.  He first mentions European Organization for Research on Treatment of Cancer, which first looked at anti-tumor agents, but then organized the Antimicrobial Therapy Project Group in 1973.  Dr. Bodey explains how he became involved and also why there were few instances of inter-institutional collaboration on infectious diseases in the United States.  He briefly talks about his many lecture trips overseas.  He also explains that, even after his retirement in 1995, he continued to lecture at MD Anderson, however this year he has “closed the door on MD Anderson.”  He comments briefly on institutional changes that took place prior to his retirement.  He notes how pleased he is that he was recently named a Distinguished Alumnus for his class year at Johns Hopkins Medical School.

 

Interview Session Two:  25 June 2013 (listen/read)

 

Chapter 06 (The Researcher) 
Research on Bacterial and Fungal Infections (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • The Researcher
  • Discovery and Success
  • Overview
  • Definitions, Explanations, Translations
  • Patients
  • Patients, Treatment, and Survivors
  • Character, Values, Beliefs, Talents

In this segment, Dr. Bodey discusses papers of importance that he produced during his career. He begins with “Hypersplenism Due to Disseminated Candidaisis in a Patient with Acute Leukemia,” indicating how this work helped identify a sequence of treatments for this patient. He then talks about an NCI-funded study of causes of death in leukemia patients that helped to establish different types of antibiotic treatments.  Next Dr. Bodey discusses a key paper, “Quantitative Relationships Between Circulating Leukocytes and Infection in Patients with Acute Leukemia” (1966), the first paper to quantify the white cell count levels at which leukemia patients would be extremely vulnerable to infection.  Next he talks about his work on carbinicillin and its significant role in combating pseudomonas.  He sketches what an infection can do to a cancer patient, then talks about an article in the Houston Post that reported the carbinicillin results.

Next Dr. Bodey talks about the results of the first paper studying the use of anti-biotics in patients treated in Life Islands.  He notes the psychological effects of the life islands on patients and how carefully they screened patients for their studies.  Dr. Bodey then notes that he provided support for Dr. Emil J Freireich and others who studied chemotherapy treatments.  He explains the “semi-quantitative total body skin culture” studies, in which he measured the populations of bacteria and fungus growing on different parts of patients’ bodies when they were in the protected environments.  He notes another paper on carbenicillan that resulted in a 90% reduction of pseudomonas in leukemia patients.

 

Chapter 07 (The Researcher) 
Research on Chemotherapy and Anti-Fungal Therapy (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • The Researcher
  • The Clinician
  • Discovery and Success
  • Overview
  • Definitions, Explanations, Translations
  • Patients
  • Patients, Treatment, and Survivors
  • Character, Values, Beliefs, Talents
  • Portraits

In this segment, Dr. Bodey first sketches the causes of death in cancer patients, noting that 47% of patients would die from infections.  He notes that the work he conducted with others at the NCI and at MD Anderson helped improve this figure, and they determined that early intervention was very important.  He then talks about his work on a study of “late-intensification chemotherapy” then moves on to sketch his studies of many types of infection and techniques for protecting patients from infection.  Much of this information, he notes, came from the Protected Environment studies, adapted to help patients in ordinary hospital situations.

Dr. Bodey then returns to the topic of chemotherapy, noting that the work originated at the NIH and studies conducted by J Freireich.  Dr. Bodey had clinical responsibility for patients with acute leukemia and Dr. Freireich was responsible for the drug regimen.  Once at MD Anderson, Dr. Bodey was also involved in analyzing data.  Dr. Bodey talks about a controversial but successful four-drug combination that Dr. Freireich proposed.  He also speaks about the successful Adriamycin studies.

Dr. Bodey states that, in his research career, he was very gratified to work with Dr. Freireich and make progress against leukemia as well as infectious diseases.

 

Chapter 08 (Building the Institution) 
The Office of Research Protocol and the Department of Medical Specialties (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • MD Anderson Snapshot
  • On Research and Researchers
  • Understanding Cancer, the History of Science, Cancer Research
  • MD Anderson History

In this segment, Dr. Bodey talks about how he established the Office of Research Protocol, which provided oversight for clinical studies.  He then talks about the purpose of the Department of Medical Specialties, which he headed (1987 – 1995): to address the cardiac, neurological, gastrointestinal and other medical issues which might arise for a cancer patient.  He talks about his long-term goals for that department and notes that he was not able to secure the resources to create a truly independent department also involved in research.

 

Chapter 09 (Key MD Anderson Figures) 
MD Anderson Presidents (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • Portraits
  • Growth and/or Change
  • Controversy
  • Critical Perspectives on MD Anderson
  • MD Anderson History
  • MD Anderson Culture

Dr. Bodey begins this Chapter on the MD Anderson presidents by recalling the late Dr. R. Lee Clark was “like a general” and a very wise man.  He recalls Dr. Charles LeMaistre was a “fine Christian gentleman” who projected a good image for the institution. 

[The recorder is paused briefly.]

Dr. Bodey addresses the issue of MD Anderson’s explosive growth, asking How big do you want to be and Does it fit in with our objectives?  He makes some observations about changes to the institution’s culture that have come with growth.

 

Chapter 10 (Personal Background) 
A Christian; Grateful to Work at MD Anderson (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • Faith
  • Personal Background
  • Ethics
  • Professional Values, Ethics, Purpose
  • On Pharmaceutical Companies and Industry
  • Dedication to MD Anderson, to Patients, to Faculty/Staff

Dr. Body begins this Chapter by noting that being a conservative Christian has greatly influenced his life and professional work, particularly in the stress he has placed on telling the truth.  He returns to his discussion of the pharmaceutical industry (addressed in Session 1), and notes that regulations have been tightened because of some physicians who did not act appropriately in their dealings with drug companies.  He affirms that only once or twice did a drug representative attempt to influence what he said.  In general, he felt he was performing a service by disseminating information on good drugs.

Dr. Bodey then talks about his post-retirement activities. He notes that he would like to become more involved in his church.

Looking back, Dr. Bodey says that he is very grateful that he was able to work for MD Anderson, with his associates, and with others for whom he has great respect.

 

Interview Session Three:  23 July 2013 (listen/read)

 

Chapter 00C
Interview Identifier (listen/read)

 

Chapter 11 (The Researcher) 
Early Experiences at MD Anderson (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • The Researcher
  • MD Anderson History
  • Building/Transforming the Institution
  • Multi-disciplinary Approaches
  • Growth and/or Change
  • MD Anderson Impact
  • Discovery and Success

Dr. Bodey begins the Chapter by noting the importance of the work done by Dr. Emil Frei and Dr. J Freireich at MD Anderson.  He then observes that, prior to his own arrival at MD Anderson, no one had done large-scale studies of infectious diseases.  Dr. Bodey tells two anecdotes about attending conferences.

 

Chapter 12 (The Researcher) 
Key Studies of Infection in Leukemia Patients (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • The Researcher
  • MD Anderson History
  • Building/Transforming the Institution
  • Multi-disciplinary Approaches
  • Career and Accomplishments
  • MD Anderson Impact
  • Discovery and Success
  • MD Anderson Culture
  • Institutional Politics
  • The Researcher  
  • The History of Health Care, Patient Care
  • Professional Practice
  • The Professional at Work
  • Overview
  • Definitions, Explanations, Translations
  • Patients
  • Patients, Treatment, Survivors
  • Definitions, Explanations, Translations
  • Discovery and Success
  • Industry Partnerships
  • Understanding Cancer, the History of Science, Cancer Research
  • On Research and Researchers
  • Controversy

Dr. Bodey begins by observing that in the sixties the antibiotic genomycin was commonly used, but was not effective against infections in neutropenic patients.  He talks about the studies he did when carbenicillan became available.  He conducted the first study of carbenicillan’s effectiveness againt pseudomonas, finding a 91% cure rate and dramatically influencing the survival rate for leukemia patients.

Next Dr. Bodey talks about a definitive study he conducted while working with Dr. J Freireich at the NCI in BesthedQuantitative Relationships Between Circulating Leukoctyes and Infection in Patients with Acute Leukemia.  He describes the importance of this paper, which established findings he would build on once he came to MD Anderson.  Dr. Bodey explains why MD Anderson could support large scale studies.

Dr. Bodey next talks about how Developmental Therapeutics conducted studies of chemotherapy using new drugs and new combinations.  He reflects on the philosophical differences Developmental Therapeutics and the Division of Medicine over using aggressive experimental protocols on patients.

[Note: The recorder is paused]

 

Chapter 13 (The Researcher) 
Contributing to Advances in Treatments for Leukemia Patients: Drug Studies and the Laminar Air Flow Units (listen/read)

Topics Covered

  • The Researcher  
  • The History of Health Care, Patient Care
  • Professional Practice
  • The Professional at Work
  • Overview
  • Definitions, Explanations, Translations
  • Patients
  • Patients, Treatment, Survivors
  • Discovery and Success
  • Understanding Cancer, the History of Science, Cancer Research
  • Understanding Cancer, the History of Science, Cancer Research
  • Giving Recognition
  • Healing, Hope, and the Promise of Research
  • MD Anderson History

In this segment, Dr. Bodey first explains the typical approach to treating infections in cancer patients when he began in the fielan oncologist would only start antibiotics once the type of infection had been identified, often too late to save the patient.  He tells an anecdote to dramatize how ineffective this approach was, then describes starting antibiotics in a woman with abdominal pain.

Dr. Bodey next talks about the Life Islands he was responsible for at MD Anderson, explaining that an individual from the NCI approached him at a conference and asked him if he would be interested in evaluating them.  Dr. Bodey explains the evolution of the Life Islands and tells an anecdote about a young father who stayed in one of the protective environments for 206 days. 

Dr. Bodey then sketches some key points in his career.  He notes that, over the years, he studied almost every antibiotic and antifungal available.  He lists his responsibilities while serving as Chief of Chemotherapy (1975 -1983). 

Dr. Bodey recalls the exciting news from the NCI that a researcher had cured uterine cancer.  He explains that this announced the beginning of organized therapies that could make a difference in patients, illustrating his point with Dr. Freireich’s four-drug combinations in pediatric leukemia patients, some of whom were cured.  He describes these advances as creating “an exciting and optimistic time” when researchers were able to offer leukemia patients another six months or a year to live.

Dr. Bodey briefly notes his work as Director of Clinical Research, overseeing the laminar air flow protective environments in the Lutheran Pavilion.

 

Chapter 14 (The Researcher) 
Collaborations in National and International Networks (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • The Researcher
  • Activities Outside Institution
  • Career and Accomplishments
  • Beyond the Institution
  • Personal Background

Dr. Bodey notes that he was a member of the Southwestern Oncology Group.  He also explains that between 1974 and 1978 he was part of an NCI sponsored collaboration between American and Soviet oncologists.  Dr. Bodey describes going to Russia and also entertaining Soviet oncologists who came to MD Anderson.  Dr. Bodey also explains that he initiated the idea of creating another NCI collaboration in South America.  Several cancer centers were involved, and Dr. Bodey worked with a cancer institute in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and also a Peruvian center.  He explains the impact of these collaborations. He talks about his relationship with Carlos Villejos who was a fellow at MD Anderson and became head of a  cancer institute.

Dr. Bodey expresses his appreciation for the opportunity to make friends and work with colleagues internationally. He comments on the importance of these global connections and briefly compares American research with programs overseas, including Italian oncology research.  He briefly talks about moving his office to the twelfth floor of the Lutheran Pavilion.

 

Chapter 15 (View on Career and Accomplishments) 
Reflections on Contributions, Colleagues, and MD Anderson (listen/read)

 

Topics Covered

  • Faith
  • Personal Background
  • Career and Accomplishments
  • Character, Values, Beliefs, Talents
  • Portraits
  • Offering Care, Compassion, Help
  • Giving Recognition

Reflecting on his career, Dr. Bodey says that he feels that “God blessed me greatly.”  It was a “wonderful experience,” he says, to work with the new drugs coming out and make a difference for patients.

Dr. Bodey offers a personal view of Dr. J Freireich, describing his generosity and expressing his deep personal affection for him.

Dr. Bodey reiterates that it was a privilege and honor to work at MD Anderson. He then speaks briefly on his research on the effectiveness of the laminar air flow protective environments.  He then offers an overview of how MD Anderson evolved, under Dr. R. Lee Clark’s leadership, from one building into a huge complex.  He notes that Dr. Clark could be dictatorial at times, but led MD Anderson successfully.  Dr. Bodey concludes the interview by noting that he wrote many publications and received opportunities that most people do not over the course of his career. 

Original Profile

 

This interview with Gerald P. Bodey, M.D. (b. 22 May 1934, Hazleton, Pennsylvania) takes place in X interview sessions in summer of 2013 (approximately 4:50 total duration).  Dr. Bodey is well-known specialist in infectious diseases.  In 1977, he also directed the construction of twenty laminar air-flow patient units on the top floor of the Lutheran Pavilion –the first units ever to be built into a medical installation (rather than added on).

Dr. Bodey came to MD Anderson in 1966 as an Associate Professor of Medicine (and Associate Internist) in the Department of Developmental Therapeutics.  In 1995 he retired as Chair of the Department of Medical Specialties.  He also served as Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control, and Employee Health.  He is now an emeritus professor of medicine.  The sessions take place at Dr. Bodey’s home in the Woodlands near Houston, Texas.  Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D. is the interviewer.

Dr. Bodey received his A.B. in 1956 from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania and went on to receive his M.D. in 1960 from Johns Hopkins Medical School.  He undertook his internship and residency at the Osler Medical Service, Johns Hopkins Hospital (1960 – 1961, 1961 – 1962) before serving as a Clinical Associate at the NCI in Bethesda, Maryland (1962 – 1965).    Dr. Bodey undertook another residency at the University of Washington, Seattle (1965 – 1966) before coming to MD Anderson to serve as Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases (1975 – 1995) and, Chief of Chemotherapy in the Department of Developmental Therapeutics (1975 – 1983).  He served as Medical Director of the Clinical Research Center in Lutheran Pavilion, overseeing the Laminar Air Flow Protective Environments (1977 – 1981).  He then set up the Office of Research Protocol and served as its first Director (1981 – 1983).  From 1987 until his retirement in 1995 Dr. Bodey served as Chair of the Department of Medical Specialties.

While working at the NCI, Dr. Bodey published Quantitative Relationships between Circulating Leukocytes and Infection in Patients with Acute Leukemia –described as a “citation classic” and one of the three most important papers on infectious diseases.  This established the direction of his research, and he went on to author or co-author 1100 publications.  He helped Dr. Emil J Freireich establish MD Anderson as a major U.S. leukemia center and studied the effect of virtually every antibiotic and antifungal agent on leukemia patients.  His evaluative protocols are still in use, as is the robust research program and consultative service he helped to establish.  Dr. Body also contributed to the development of chemotherapy programs and was responsible for developing MD Anderson’s laminar flow units in the Lutheran Pavilion, running many research projects to quantify the effect of these protected environments on leukemia patients, with implications for all cancer patients.  In 1990 Dr. Bodey was listed as one of the 300 “most-cited authors in the scientific literature by the Institute for Scientific Information.  Three MD Anderson awards were named for Dr. Bodey: the Gerald P. Bodey Immunocompromised Host Fellowship Training Program from the Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control, and Employee Health; the Gerald P. Bodey, Sr. Distinguished Professorship; and the Gerald P. Bodey Award for Excellence in Education from the Division of Medical Oncology.

In this interview Dr. Bodey discusses the breadth of his work on infectious diseases in leukemia patients, contextualizing his pioneering work in the medical approaches of the early sixties.  He covers his studies of antibiotic and antifungal agents, as well as his work with the laminar air flow units.  He speaks about the dramatic changes that his work made in patient care and comments on changes in researchers’ relationships with pharmaceutical companies.  Dr. Bodey offers his views of mentor and friend, Dr. Emil J Freireich, and Dr. R. Lee Clark, and he comments on the role of his own faith in his career.