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Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr.

Dr. LaSalle Doheny Leffall, Jr. was born May 22, 1930, in Tallahasee, Florida, but grew up in Quincy, Florida. His parents, Lula Jourdan and LaSalle Leffall, Sr. met at Alabama Teachers College. Leffall graduated from Dr. Wallace S. Stevens High School at age 15 years in 1945. Awarded his B.S. degree summa cum laude from Florida A & M College in 1948, Leffall at age twenty-two earned his M.D. from Howard University College of Medicine. There, Dr. Burke Syphax, Dr. Jack White, Dr. W. Montague Cobb and the celebrated Dr. Charles R. Drew taught him.

Upon earning his M.D., Leffall continued his medical training as intern at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis; assistant resident in surgery at Freedman’s Hospital from 1953 to 1954; assistant resident in surgery at D.C. General Hospital from 1954 to 1955; chief resident in surgery at Freedman’s Hospital from 1956 to 1957 and senior fellow in cancer surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital from 1957 to 1959. Beginning his military service at the rank of Captain, M. C., he served as chief of general surgery at the U. S. Army Hospital in Munich, Germany, from 1960 to 1961. Leffall joined Howard’s faculty, in 1962, as an assistant professor and by 1970, he was chairman of the Department of Surgery, a position he held for twenty-five years. He was named the Charles R. Drew Professor in 1992, occupying the first endowed chair in the history of Howard’s Department of Surgery.

Leffall has served as visiting professor at over 200 medical institutions in the U.S. and abroad and authored or coauthored over 130 articles and chapters. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and a fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Gastroenterology. His professional life has been devoted to the study of cancer, especially among African Americans. In 1979, as president of the American Cancer Society, Leffall developed programs and emphasized the importance of this study for the benefit of the African American population and other ethnic groups. Cancers of the head and neck, breast, colorectum and soft part sarcomas are his main areas of interest.

Surgeon, oncologist, medical educator and civic leader, and the recipient of many awards, Leffall has taught over 4,500 medical students and trained at least 250 general surgery residents. In 1995 he was elected president of the American College of Surgeons and in 2002 was named chairman of the President’s Cancer Panel. He and his wife, Ruthie have one grown son, LeSalle, III.

Accession Number

A2004.064

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/7/2004

Last Name

Leffall

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

D.

Schools

William S. Stevens High School

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Howard University College of Medicine

First Name

La Salle

Birth City, State, Country

Tallahassee

HM ID

LEF02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Puerto Rico, Maine

Favorite Quote

Equanimity under duress

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

5/22/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sole

Short Description

Medical professor, oncologist, and surgeon Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr. (1930 - ) is the president of the American College of Surgeons and chairs the President's Cancer Panel. Leffall has authored over 150 articles, has taught over 4,500 medical students and trained at least 250 general surgery residents at the Howard University College of Medicine.

Employment

Homer G. Phillips Hospital (St. Louis, Missouri)

Freedmen's Hospital, Howard University

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Howard University College of Medicine

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Georgetown University

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of LaSalle Leffall interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - LaSalle Leffall's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - LaSalle Leffall describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - LaSalle Leffall describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - LaSalle Leffall recounts his early years in Quincy, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - LaSalle Leffall describes his childhood interests

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - LaSalle Leffall describes his early influences

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - LaSalle Leffall recounts his college years at Florida A&M

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - LaSalle Leffall remembers influential teachers at Florida A & M

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - LaSalle Leffall recalls his admission to medical school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - LaSalle Leffall recounts his experience at Howard University Medical School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - LaSalle Leffall describes Dr. W. Montague Cobb, a memorable instuctor at Howard Medical School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - LaSalle Leffall remembers an influential physician, Dr. Charles Drew

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - LaSalle Leffall remembers Dr. Syphax and Dr. White at Howard University School of Medicine

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - LaSalle Leffall talks about the influence of Dr. Jack White at Howard School of Medicine

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - LaSalle Leffall recalls his medical internship at Homer Phillips Hospital in St. Louis

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - LaSalle Leffall recounts his experience as one of the first black residents at Gallinger Hospital

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - LaSalle Leffall recalls his surgical residency at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 1957-1959

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - LaSalle Leffall recalls his courtship and marriage and his military service in Germany

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - LaSalle Leffall summarizes his career at Howard from 1962-2004

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - LaSalle Leffall details his work with American Cancer Society including foreign humanitarian and research work

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - LaSalle Leffall discusses cancer and race

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - LaSalle Leffall evaluates new cancer treatments

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - LaSalle Leffall discusses his son

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - LaSalle Leffall discusses his wife's family's five generations of college graduates

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - LaSalle Leffall talks about his presidencies of American Cancer Society and American College of Surgeons

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - LaSalle Leffall expresses his hopes for the future

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - LaSalle Leffall talks about working with the Bush family on cancer-related projects

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - LaSalle Leffall discusses the role of attitude in cancer treatment

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - LaSalle Leffall remembers his parents

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - LaSalle Leffall considers his legacy and the role of a teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - LaSalle Leffall considers healthcare reform

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - LaSalle Leffall reflects on the course of his career

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - LaSalle Leffall shares advice for blacks aspiring to be doctors

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
LaSalle Leffall describes Dr. W. Montague Cobb, a memorable instuctor at Howard Medical School
LaSalle Leffall talks about his presidencies of American Cancer Society and American College of Surgeons
Transcript
One of your teachers, I know, was W. Montague Cobb, and that's someone who--?$$Absolutely, Dr., Dr. W. Montague Cobb was one of my favorite teachers [at Howard University Medical School, Washington, D.C.]. He was a man I met in my first year because he taught anatomy. And he used to have what we would call "bust out sessions". Now, what does that mean? You'd go into him, and you'd say "bust me out", meaning, ask me any question you want to ask me. I think I know the answer. And, and I liked that kind of challenge. And he liked that. He liked young students who felt so confident that they would walk in and say, "Dr. Cobb, bust me out" (laughter), and that meant, ask me anything you want on anatomy. And we wanted to let him know that we knew the answers. And I just enjoyed him as a teacher. And we used to have something called the cadaver walk. On the final examination, they would ask a hundred and eighty questions, and the cadavers have all been dissected then. All the cadavers are dissected. And they would have labels on some of everything, arteries, veins, muscles, bones, all this. And you had to identify those structures. And I really loved that. And when I was a medical student in my later years and as a surgical resident, I used to come back every year to go over with the freshman, medical and dental students, the cadaver, to prepare them, help prepare them for the cadaver walk. But Dr. Cobb was, I think an outstanding teacher, but in addition to that, I worked with him as assistant editor of the "Journal of the National Medical Association", and even though he was not a practicing physician, he did some of the early work in helping to integrate Gallinger Municipal Hospital, which was the city hospital then, but controlled totally by whites, no blacks on the staff. And Dr. Cobb was one of the major ones who helped integrate that hospital. And so in addition to being an excellent teacher as professor of anatomy, he also helped in--on the social basis, for social justice in medicine, helping to integrate Gallinger Municipal Hospital, which later became D.C. General Hospital.$$Now, he was also a musician too, I believe.$$Oh, he loved to play the fiddle, the vio--I say the fiddle. He loved to play the violin. And when we'd have the medical school smoker, he would come, and he would play the violin. He was a very learned man. I, I learned a lot from Dr. Cobb, having worked with him as assistant editor of "The Journal of the National Medical Association", and then having this interest I had in anatomy, I would go and talk with him. And he was just a first-rate individual and it was a, an honor for me to get to know a man like that.$$Now, maybe we should say something about what "The National Medical Association" is?$$The National Medical Association is an association founded in 1895 by black physicians because they were denied admission to the American Medical Association. And the National Medical Association still exists. And we think it exists because even though blacks can now become members of the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association still addresses some issues that affect black physicians disproportionately. And therefore, we still think there is a role for the National Medical Association, even though black physicians can become members of the American Medical Association.$I think the presidency of the American Cancer Society came first, right?$$It did. I became president of the American Cancer Society in 1978, had a year from 1978 to '79 [1979], and had a lot of wonderful trips. I went all around speaking to the different groups and chapters here, went abroad, many different places, to the Soviet Union, the Peoples Republic of China, Vietnam, Liberia. Then other places, just around--the Dominican Republic, this--speaking for the American Cancer Society. But I am a surgeon. I'm a trained surgeon. And my specialty happens to be cancer. That's why I was active in the American Cancer Society. But I'm also active as a surgeon, and I became the first black president, African American president of the American College of Surgeons. That was in 1995 -'96 [1996]. So I, I was deeply honored by that, and I went around speaking to the different chapters. Your primary role as president of the American College of Surgeons is to go around the country, speak to the different chapters with the fellows who are in the chapters, to find out what their concerns are and bring those concerns back to the national body and see what can be done on a national level to help, help address the problems they tell you about. And that's what I did, but in addition, I went to South Africa. I went to Hong Kong, I went to Canada. I went to different places, and--went to Germany. So I got an honorary fellowship from Canada, from South Africa, from Germany. So that was a, the height of my professional career as a surgeon was to be president of the American College of Surgeons. That was the height of my professional career.

Dr. Harold Freeman

Harold Freeman, M.D., the preeminent authority on the subject of poverty and cancer, was born on March 2, 1933, in Washington, D.C. Freeman attended Washington D.C.'s Catholic University and continued his studies at Howard University Medical School.

After graduation, Freeman moved to New York to complete his residency at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, beginning his medical career at Harlem Hospital Center in 1967. At the Harlem Hospital Center, Freeman was shocked to learn that the majority of his patients had hopelessly advanced cases of cancer. Freeman set out to determine the cause of higher mortality rates of these African Americans and to reduce the race and income related disparities in health care.

In 1979, Freeman established two free breast- and cervical-cancer-screening centers in Harlem in order to improve the chances of early detection. He authored the landmark report, "Cancer in the Economically Disadvantaged," which established the links between poverty and excess cancer mortality. Freeman was national president of the American Cancer Society from 1988 to 1989, is the chief architect of its Initiative on Cancer and the Poor, and was honored in 1990 by the American Cancer Society with the creation of a special award in his name.

Freeman was the director of the Department of Surgery for twenty-five years at Harlem Hospital Center (1974-1999). Currently, Dr. Freeman is professor of clinical surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Freeman is chairman of the U.S. President's Cancer Panel, a position he has held since 1991, and was appointed as director of the National Cancer Institute's Center for Reducing Health Disparities in 2000.

Accession Number

A2001.034

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

5/17/2001

Last Name

Freeman

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Thomas P. Morgan Elementary School

Benjamin Banneker Academic High School

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Catholic University of America

Howard University College of Medicine

Howard University Hospital

Senior Resident in Cancer Surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Harold

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

FRE01

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/2/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Corn

Short Description

Oncologist Dr. Harold Freeman (1933 - ) authored the landmark report, "Cancer in the Economically Disadvantaged," which established the links between poverty and excess cancer mortality. Freeman was national president of the American Cancer Society from 1988 to 1989, and is the chief architect of its Initiative on Cancer and the Poor. Freeman was the director of the Department of Surgery at Harlem Hospital Center from 1974 to 1999.

Employment

Harlem Hospital

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

North General Hospital

Favorite Color

Yellow

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harold Freeman interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harold Freeman's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harold Freeman details his family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harold Freeman recalls his paternal grandfather and his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harold Freeman relates how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harold Freeman remembers his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harold Freeman discusses his parents' compatibility

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harold Freeman lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harold Freeman recalls his involvement in tennis

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harold Freeman expresses the importance of his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harold Freeman describes his childhood community

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harold Freeman remembers his elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harold Freeman considers the effect of his father's death on his family

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Harold Freeman describes himself as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Harold Freeman illustrates his relationship with his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Harold Freeman remembers a neighbor who became a mentor after his father died

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harold Freeman compares his relationship with his elder brothers and a neighbor

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harold Freeman describes himself as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harold Freeman recalls a black school counselor who warned students to lower their goals--a devastating experience

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harold Freeman recounts his experiences at Catholic University of America

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harold Freeman recalls his years at Howard Medical School and his choice to become a surgeon

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Harold Freeman recounts his residency and early marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Harold Freeman remembers his transition to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Harold Freeman remembers Arthur Holleb, his mentor at Memorial Sloan Kettering and the American Cancer Society

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harold Freeman continues to recall his mentor, Arthur Holleb

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harold Freeman describes his medical training as "encapsulated" from the huge events of the times

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harold Freeman discusses the white medical students at Howard

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harold Freeman discusses the increasing public attention paid to cancer by 1970

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harold Freeman talks about Richard Nixon's "War Against Cancer" and his own choice to focus on breast cancer

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Harold Freeman describes Harlem Hospital in the late 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Harold Freeman recounts the beginnings of his research on poverty and cancer

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Harold Freeman details the links between poverty and cancer

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harold Freeman discusses the links between culture and disease

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harold Freeman details the intersections of racism, power, and health problems

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harold Freeman explains why black women have a lower incidence but higher death rate with cancer

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Harold Freeman proposes solutions to the disparity in cancer death rates by race

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Harold Freeman discusses his future plans

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Harold Freeman discusses "third-world communities" in the U.S.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Harold Freeman reflects on his life and career

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Harold Freeman considers his legacy