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53 “I am sure you are equally appreciative of the potential dangers if this whole field trial is not handled in the best possible way,” National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) medical director Dr. Hart Van Riper reminded Basil O’Connor in June 1951.1 While the Committee on Immunization had given its support for the gamma globulin (GG) pilot study, the NFIP was clearly aware of its role in seeing the study come to fruition, and Van Riper was anxious about the next step: how to sell it to the American public.2 Such an endeavor would not be simple, since a large placebo-­ controlled study had not been undertaken on an open population. The scale would be tremendous, featuring the rapid enrollment of thousands of healthy children in temporary injection clinics at the height of a polio epidemic. Coming up with a strategy for compelling parents to volunteer their charges for a study that did not promise protection would test the best marketing minds. For these reasons, Van Riper recommended a “carefully projected public education campaign” to make the experiment palatable.3 Faced with an uncertain public reception, NFIP officials devised an ambitious promotional strategy. However, differing expectations and approaches led to challenges in launching the study. What preparations were made to ensure the successful launch of the pilot study? How would marketing shape the study’s nature and delivery? This chapter explores how preparations for the experiment were complicated by differing agendas and what steps were taken to ensure its launch. Marketing and Mobilization Chapter 3 54 Selling Science Preparing for a Pilot Study In the spring of 1951, Hammon began enlisting a field team comprising epidemiologists , medical researchers, clinicians, and orthopedic nurses. The core team was made up of close friends and associates. Hammon appointed tireless GG promoter and ally Dr. Joseph Stokes Jr. as senior trial consultant. He also recruited Dr. Lewis L. Coriell, who was medical director of the Camden Municipal Hospital in New Jersey, to serve as deputy trial administrator. Coriell came from a prominent medical background; he held an MA and PhD in microbiology , as well as an MD from the University of Kansas.4 In addition to Coriell, Hammon’s colleague, Dr. Francis S. Cheever, was chosen to assist with the trial because of his background in microbiology and infectious disease control.5 As trial administrators, Hammon, Stokes, Coriell, and Cheever shared considerable experience with polio, knowledge of medical research methods, and belief in the need for a GG study. Figure 8  Planning the gamma globulin field trial, 1951. Pictured (left to right) are Dr. Lewis L. Coriell, Dr. William McD. Hammon, Dr. Joseph Stokes Jr., and Dr. Henry Kumm. Courtesy of the March of Dimes Foundation. Marketing and Mobilization 55 With a team assembled, Hammon finalized his study’s protocol. Over five thousand children would be enrolled in a study that adhered to controlled trial methodology. The placebo and GG serum doses would look identical at room temperature; however, each dose would be assigned a unique tracking number, which would be recorded in a schedule before being randomized. Half of the pediatric cohort, ages two to eight years, would receive a 4, 7, or 11 cc injection of GG based on body weight, while the other half received an equal dose of gelatin solution. The similar appearance and random allocation of the serums at the time of injection would prevent anyone from knowing which child received which dose. Once the study was finished, the dose tracking numbers would be used to compare the two groups to determine whether GG provided any protection against paralytic polio.6 As a large controlled experiment on an open population of healthy children had never been attempted before, trial administrators preferred to undertake the study in a setting with a specific racial, cultural, and geographical composition. Although a large city was an obvious choice for an experiment , with a high population density and access to trained medical personnel, transportation corridors, and clinic facilities, trial administrators believed that an urban context was inherently unsuitable; instead, their insecurity about public reception led them to seek the assistance of a small town.7 A small town was suitable for an experiment for many reasons. Trial administrators believed that such a community would be more socially cohesive than an urban metropolis. Evidence of cultural pluralism, as well as simmering racial, ethnic, and class divisions situated many urban centers as disunited communities.8 Since thousands of children needed to be...


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