Two interview segments: March 8, 1978
Approximate total duration: 23 minutes, 26 minutes
Interviewer: Don Macon
About the interview subject:
Eleanor MacDonald was born on March 4, 1906 in Sommerville, Massachusetts to Angus and Catherine MacDonald. She attended and graduated Radcliffe College in 1928. At Harvard Medical School, she studied under E. Bidwell Wilson which led to her eventual appointment as the Epidemiologist to Boston’s State Cancer Program. Her work there lead to the publishing of her seminal work “The Incidence and Survival in Cancer” in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1948. Her work in New England caught the attention of Dr. R. Lee Clark who recruited her to be the head of the newly created Department of Epidemiology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute. During her tenure she developed a 200-code method for transcribing patient charts that provided statistical information to M. D. Anderson’s physicians and researchers. She retired from the institution in 1982 and had been serving as professor emeritus since 1974. She was among the first female scientists inducted into the Texas Medical Center Hall of Fame. She passed away in Houston, Texas on July 26, 2007.
About the interview:
Eleanor MacDonald discusses the numerous formative life experiences and activities she was involved in outside of MD Anderson. Next, Ms. MacDonald discusses the social and cultural influences of her transformative experience in Europe. Then Ms. MacDonald talks about family connection with Dr. R. Lee. Clark. Lastly, the comradery at MD Anderson is discussed including the lifelong friendship she formed at MD Anderson with her colleague Marion Lowrey.
Major Topics Covered
Data Interpretation, Statistical
National Cancer Institute (U.S.)
Interview Processed by:
Jennifer Stockton, University of North Texas, November 2017 (Biographic information written by Jose Javier Garza, MSIS, Archivist, Historical Resources Center)
Interview Session One: March 8, 1978
Formative Experiences and Activities Outside of MD Anderson
Segment 06 / Influences from People and Life Experiences
The Comradery at MD Anderson
Segment 09 / Personal Reflections, Memories of MD Anderson
A Life Long Friendship Formed at MD Anderson
Segment 10 / Personal Reflections, Memories of MD Anderson
Interview Session One: March 8, 1978
Interview Identifier (listen/read)
Segment 06 (Influences from People and Life Experiences)
Formative Experiences and Activities Outside of MD Anderson (listen/read)
(Picture of Ms. MacDonald, her sister Mary, and their dog Alexis) Begins by briefly reviewing what was discussed previously such as her coming to Texas and joining MD Anderson. Next, she discusses her friend Dr. George Milton Smith who was a background figure in establishing the National Cancer Institute. He invited her and her sister Mary to attend luncheons with well-known and acclaimed cancer researchers. (Picture of Mary is shown) She then discusses letting her sister Mary take the reins at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Segment 07 (Influences from People and Life Experiences)
A Transformative Experience in Europe (listen/read)
Ms. MacDonald talks about the medical unit set up by Dr. Smith, Dr. Harvey Cushing, and Dr. Bob Greenough in 1914. Ms. MacDonald then gives an anecdote about Dr. Smith and a hotel where Ms. MacDonald and her sister later stayed in Europe. Next, Ms. MacDonald discusses this trip to Europe with her sister, Mary. Finally, Ms. MacDonald discusses the social and cultural influences of her time in Europe.
Segment 08 (Influences from People and Life Experiences)
A Family Connection with Dr. R. Lee. Clark (listen/read)
Ms. MacDonald then discusses her brother, Ronald, and his personality. Ms. MacDonald then gives an anecdote about her brother, Dr. R. Lee Clark, and Dr. Comely followed by an anecdote about playing music with Dr. R. Lee Clark.
Segment 09 (Personal Reflections, Memories of MD Anderson)
The Comradery at MD Anderson (listen/read)
The comradery at MD Anderson is then discussed. Dr. Fletcher brought in Dr. Leonard Grimmett who started the Cobalt Unit. Ms. MacDonald then discusses Dr. Grimmett’s death, and how a few MD Anderson colleagues all went to make sure Dr. Gilbert Fletcher, who brought Dr. Grimmett to MD Anderson, was informed and to be there for him emotionally.
Segment 10 (Personal Reflections, Memories of MD Anderson)
A Life Long Friendship Formed at MD Anderson (listen/read)
Ms. MacDonald discusses her close friend Marion Lowrey who worked at MD Anderson. She talks about how they met as well as formative life experiences they went through. She then discusses how they found a balance between their working relationship and their personal friendship, so that one would not negatively impact the other.