- In Memoriam:Marc Lappé
Marc Lappé, a former associate on the staff of the Center, died of a brain tumor in May. I hired him in 1971 as our second associate (Robert M. Veatch was the first). In those days, the staff of the Center was only six people, but we were full of enthusiasm and Marc was a remarkably lively addition to our small group. He came to us with a degree in experimental pathology from the University of Pennsylvania and quickly provided leadership for our work on genetics.
One of Marc's most memorable contributions, in 1974, was to alert us to a new area of scientific research, recombinant-DNA, which he saw well before anyone else would be both important and controversial. We submitted a proposal to the NIH for a project on the ethics of rDNA research. Not only was the proposal rejected but, to rub it in, a letter from the director of the institute to which it had been submitted said that the idea of ethical problems in this research was nothing but "blue sky philosophizing." A year later that same director was spending most of his time dealing with a national debate on rDNA. He did have the grace to write us, saying he had been wrong. That was almost better than the money.
Marc left our staff in the mid-1970s, moving to California and shifting his interests to environmental and toxicological issues. His work was exceedingly productive and almost always provocative, putting him at the center of one debate after another, concerning chemical threats, genetically modified crops, silicon breast implants, and the indiscriminate use of anitbiotics. He taught at a number of universities and was a prolific author, producing during the 1990s almost a book a year. He was a fine and genial colleague, and a serious and thoughtful activist. He died young, at 62, but had a career that any of us could envy. [End Page 10]
Daniel Callahan is director of international programs at the Hastings Center. He is the author of What Price Better Health: Hazards of the Research Imperative (University of California Press, 2003) and co-author of Medicine and the Market: Choice v. Equity (Johns Hopkins Press, forthcoming).