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0:00 - Segment 00B: Interview Identifier

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Partial Transcript: "Today is November 1st, 2016. And today I’m at the Baylor College of Medicine for my second session with Dr. Margaret Spitz. So thank you very much. And we found a quieter room today.'

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0:17 - Segment 08: Reflections on Career, Mentoring and Leadership

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Partial Transcript: "Well, and November the 1st, is actually an interesting day, because it’s my eldest, my oldest grandchild’s birthday. And he turned 17."

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Spitz notes that she would like to be able to spend more time with her grandchildren, an observation that leads her to share that mentoring has been both the most challenging and rewarding dimension of her career.

Dr. Spitz explains that she had no real mentors, which made her realize how important this is. She talks about the ways in which she has mentored others and distinguishes scientific mentors from career mentors. She also explains that she didn’t really plan her career, but was in the “right place at the right time.”

She next talks about her leadership style and explains that to be a leaders, one must have reached a career pinnacle and leave competition behind. She talks about participating in leadership training and offers advice to young leaders.

Keywords:

Subjects: 1. Segment Codes - A: View on Career and Accomplishments 2. Story Codes -A: Personal Background A: Definitions, Explanations, Translations C: Leadership C: Mentoring D: On Leadership D: On Mentoring

13:13 - Segment 09: Working through Challenges for Women at MD Anderson

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Partial Transcript: "Do you see differences between young men coming up, young women coming up? And—"

Segment Synopsis: In this chapter, Dr. Spitz talks about challenges and changes for women faculty at MD Anderson. She recalls the salary review spearheaded by Elizabeth Travis and others and changes that came from that initiative. She notes that she herself was the first female MD to become a department chair. She also recalls the dinner for senior women at which she receive the Faculty Alumnus Award. She talks about contributing an essay to the book about senior women, Legends and Legacies and shares her views about the group photo of the contributors in eveningwear.

Keywords:

Subjects: 1. Segment Codes - A: Obstacles, Challenges, Barriers 2. Story Codes - A: Experiences Related to Gender, Race, Ethnicity B: Building/Transforming the Institution C: Mentoring D: On Mentoring

21:38 - Segment 10: A Look Back at Institutional Change and a Legacy Left

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Partial Transcript: "Are there any other observations you have of how things have changed?"

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Spitz first talks about big changes she saw at MD Anderson during her career and then reviews her contributions to the Department of Epidemiology.

She first talks about the impact of the requirement under Dr. Mendelsohn’s presidency that faculty supply 30% of their salaries from grants. She talks about the effect of rapid growth on the culture of the institution.

Dr. Spitz then turns to a discussion of the culture of the Department, noting her efforts to create a collegial environment with good quality of life.

At the end of the interview, she talks about the sub-area she created, integrative epidemiology that leverages the strengths of multiple sciences.

Keywords:

Subjects: 1. Segment Codes - A: View on Career and Accomplishments 2. Story Codes - B: Growth and/or Change B: MD Anderson Culture B: Working Environment C: Discovery and Success D: On Research and Researchers D: Understanding Cancer, the History of Science, Cancer Research

0:00

ROSOLOWSKI:

Today is November 1st, 2016. And today I’m at the Baylor College of Medicine for my second session with Dr. Margaret Spitz. So thank you very much. And we found a quieter room today.

SPITZ:

Yes, we sure did.

ROSOLOWSKI:

No, none of the Texas Medical Center construction in the background.

SPITZ:

Well, and November the 1st, is actually an interesting day, because it’s my eldest, my oldest grandchild’s birthday. And he turned 17.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Wow.

SPITZ:

So it makes me realize how time is marching on and how important it is to carpe diem and take advantage of every day.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Is there something that you would like to plan to seize today, or in the near future?

SPITZ:

Well, I think I would like to spend more time with my grandchildren, I think, and try and influence them the way I’ve tried to influence junior faculty—(cellphone rings)

ROSOLOWSKI:

Well, that’s quite a lovely ringtone.

SPITZ:

Sorry about that. (laughter)

ROSOLOWSKI:

That’s all right.

SPITZ:

The way I was able to influence, or try and mentor young faculty, I would absolutely love to be able to do the same and more with my grandchildren.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Tell me a bit about the whole mentoring piece. I was actually—that was one of the things on my list to ask you about later, because education is obviously really key, and you’re doing a lot of mentoring.

SPITZ:

Yes. Well, I think that was, to me, the most challenging, the most difficult, but the most rewarding part of my career. And as department chair, I spent more time helping the junior faculty than probably any other component, perhaps with the exception of dealing with some difficult administrative issues. It was certainly the part that I realized, or I believe was critical to a successful department chair.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Now what were some of the issues that would arise that you found that you needed to bring a mentoring hand to?

SPITZ:

Well, for example, in grant submission. I would always help defining the specific aims of a project, because I always told the young faculty that the reviewer had decided by the end of the first page of the grant, reading the specific aims and the significance, whether he or she was going to fund that project. And that was—that more time should be spent on that than on anything else. I also told them I had the philosophy of KISS—Keep It Simple, Stupid. And I always said that reviewers never said there were not enough specific aims. The criticism always was they had too many specific aims, and this project is over-ambitious. So those were the types of—and as I spent a lot of time helping them with specific aims of a project, less so with background, significance, preliminary data. But certainly I stressed the importance of the first page of any grant application. So that was one way. I helped with manuscript writing, with deciding who should be co-authoring the manuscript. I always taught them that inclusion was so much better than exclusion. You know, try and be as inclusive as possible. Rather err on the side of inclusion than exclusion.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Why did you feel that was so important?

SPITZ:

Because, so this is the era of team science. And we have to recognize everybody’s contribution to a project, even if it was only by giving samples or data, or even advice. But I, myself, never really cared. I didn’t want to be on any of their papers, unless I felt I had materially contributed to the science of the project. So very often I wasn’t even featured on the paper. And that never bothered me at all. I always felt the success of the junior faculty was a reflection on my own success as a chair. So I felt that it was a win-win situation in all aspects.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Now if I’m remembering correctly, you didn’t have an awful lot of mentors in—

SPITZ:

No, I had very few, if any. And that was why I realized how important it was to have mentors. So I always say, “Do as I say, but not do as I did.”

ROSOLOWSKI:

How do you think things would have been different if you had a mentor? What kind of mentor would you have found helpful?

SPITZ:

Well, for example, I never knew how important it was to write grants and to be funded. Nobody told me how to write a grant, or how grants were reviewed. This was something I learned by trial and error. And perhaps when I went onto a study section was the first time I realized how important it was to be a fair and accurate reviewer, because one could destroy people’s careers. In the very first days of study section, we used to get paper copies. And when we were finished with a grant, we used to throw them into big cardboard boxes. And I used to think we’re throwing people’s careers into the boxes.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Wow. That’s a very sad image.

SPITZ:

And in those days, it was much easier to get funding, the percentile was much higher. Now it’s really tough, especially for young people. And I feel very sorry for people struggling to get funding.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What kind of mentor would have been helpful to you, do you think? What are some other key issues?

SPITZ:

Well, I think scientific mentors and perhaps career mentors as well. Both types of mentors are helpful.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What’s the difference?

SPITZ:

Well, a scientific mentor is somebody who will give you advice in terms of the science of your program. You know, help you with defining the aims, what preliminary data are important, what the translational potential of the grant is, what the next steps should be, and so on. A career mentor does not need to have technological expertise in your particular area of research; rather, they need to teach you how to mentor, how to become involved in team science, how to volunteer to serve on study sections, and how to become involved in committee meetings, programs, and so on. And they don’t—of course, the two can be combined, and that’s fantastic. But it’s not always necessary. On the other hand, mentors must have the recognition, the national and international recognition, so that they can nominate you for awards. They can recommend you for study sections. They can suggest that you give a talk in a scientific national meeting, and so on. So they can play critical roles in helping junior faculty move forward in their careers.

ROSOLOWSKI:

When did you begin to think about your own professional path as a career, that you were making active choices in?

SPITZ:

Well, you know, it just happened without—that’s not the answer I should give, but that is the truth. It just happened. As I said before, I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. But as I tell the young people, it’s not enough to be in the right place at the right time. You have to recognize that you’re in the right place at the right time. Otherwise, it’s neither the right place nor the right time. So I was just lucky. And I jumped on opportunities that were offered. I don’t think it would happen again so easily. I think I was just lucky. Very lucky.

ROSOLOWSKI:

It’s a different time now.

SPITZ:

It’s a different time now.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Very different environment, too.

SPITZ:

Absolutely, yes.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Now, I wanted to ask you too about leadership issues, you know, because obviously you’ve had some really key roles in shaping departments, programs. How do you feel—maybe I should ask you what kind of leader do you feel you are? What are your real strengths?

SPITZ:

Well, I try to be a democratic leader, in other words, to involve the faculty in decision making. It didn’t always work, but when it did, it was great. And when it didn’t work, I felt you had to be a benign despot, with an emphasis on benign. So that was number one. Number two, I think to be successful as a leader, you have to feel that you’ve achieved everything you want for yourself. And now, all the achievements must go to the department and to the faculty. And I always noted that department chairs who hadn’t yet reached their peak in their scientific career were often not good department chairs, because they still were fighting for their own careers, and they didn’t have the time and the broad perspective to help fight for their junior faculty’s careers.

ROSOLOWSKI:

That’s a theme I’ve heard repeated in these interviews.

SPITZ:

Oh, really?

ROSOLOWSKI:

Yes. It’s very interesting. Over and over, people say—

SPITZ:

And I’ve often, you know, and I could see sometimes when people were selected to become department chairs, I could tell this one is ready, this one’s not ready. And I was very sad to say I was often correct.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Interesting. Now in terms of your developing yourself as a leader, how do you feel that happened? And what were the challenges for you along the way? And we can go into—

SPITZ:

Well, I had no training as a leader at all. And I never thought of myself as leader. At one stage, I was sent by MD Anderson to an executive leadership program at Rice. And we met every Friday afternoon. And I loved those programs. They used the Harvard Business School model, and we often worked in teams. And I knew immediately whose team I wanted to be on, because there were certain people who were just innately good leaders and did well. And it was a great experience, and I did learn a lot from that experience.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were your big takeaways from that? What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about how to act?

SPITZ:

Well, I learned that you had to look at the whole picture, you had to consider the circumstances. But in the end, the buck stops with you, and you have to make the decision. And you have to be proactive. And you have to address problems before they become pervasive.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were some of the biggest challenges you felt you had to confront in your leadership roles?

SPITZ:

Well, I was representing epidemiology, which was not a top tier discipline early on. So I always—I felt that I was considered a second class citizen in the beginning, but then when the SPORE programs came on, it was required that each SPORE program had a population science project. And very often they wanted an epidemiology project. So all of a sudden, we were in tremendous demand. And all of a sudden, we became part of the scene, the MD Anderson scene. And that was very gratifying. And at one stage, I think we had projects in seven or eight spores.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Oh my gosh. That’s huge.

SPITZ:

So it was great for the department.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What advice would you give? What advice do you give as you’re mentoring for younger people coming up, and trying to think about leadership roles?

SPITZ:

That’s an interesting question. I think they have to show innately that they are destined for a leadership role. Some people will never have a leadership role. And that’s okay, too. There are many people whose science is outstanding, but who have very poor administrative skills. And they shouldn’t try—they should try to focus on this science, and be a scientific leader in their team, and not worry about administrative roles. So I think it depends on the person and their own successes and failures. So I don’t think you can give overall advice. Each person is unique, and has unique skills and attributes, and failures and difficulties and challenges.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Do you see differences between young men coming up, young women coming up? And—

SPITZ:

Yes. Well, of course, it’s a much harder challenge for women because many of them are in their reproductive age and they want to have children, and some of them are dealing with—they’re the sandwich generation; they have children and they have elderly parents to contend with. And it’s a great challenge. And I always say you have to establish your priorities at each phase of your life. And the priorities change as the circumstances of your life change. And if you stick with your priorities, you will never have difficulties. And you can have everything, but not just at the same time. So those are some of the messages I’ve given women. But I’ve also said, you know, you can always write a grant, but you can never revisit your child’s first steps or their first soccer game. And at the end of their careers, nobody ever says, “I wish I’d worked harder.” But they do say, “I wish I’d spent more time with my family.” So you have to be very careful, and you have to make wise choices all along the way.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Now I remember the last time we spoke, you talked about making the very conscious decision to keep your family a very important part of your life.

SPITZ:

Yes. Well, I worked part-time for quite a long time, until I felt my children were ready to care for themselves. And I’ve never felt guilty about my children, and I’m happy that I’ve nev— but I know it’s a tough challenge. And I was luckier than most.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Now tell me about the situation for you and for other women at MD Anderson when you first came, because I’d like to get a picture—it was an interesting time.

SPITZ:

Yes. Well, when I first came, I remember all the rules and regulations were written as if all the faculty were men, and everything was, “his.” And we had to change that. Then there was a Faculty Wife’s Association, as if all the faculty were men. But that eventually got changed to Faculty Spouse’s Organization, which was a good change. And I think it was in the beginning very male-dominated, the faculty. But there were a few senior women, and among them was Liz Travis [oral history interview] and Margaret Kripke [oral history interview]. And I remember that the three of us were asked to help women’s faculty issues, and we did a review of the salaries. And we actually found that there were inequities in salaries between men and women, I think particularly in the clinical arenas. And the institution adjusted the faculty salaries accordingly, and that was very gratifying.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Was that controversial?

SPITZ:

No, I don’t think so. Well, if it was, I certainly didn’t hear about it. And then we developed a plan for freezing tenure track. And this was for women who were planning to have babies, or maybe they were caring for a sick parent, and so on. And this was an approach that could only be done prospectively. You couldn’t look back and say, “Oh, I had a terrible year. I didn’t have any grants, and I’ve had very few publications. Let me ask for a tenure freeze.” It had to be prospectively. And in fact, the very first person who applied for one, received a freeze, was a male faculty. I think he was going to the Iraq War or something, but he got a tenure track freeze. And I think it was a very sane and humane law. And I’m sure it’s still ongoing now.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Many times when there are programs like that put into the institution, people who take advantage of them are considered kind of not serious about their work. Did you find that there was conversation about that? That it required—

SPITZ:

No, I never heard about that. I’m sure some people did think that. But of course, MD Anderson is unique. It was one of the first Cancer Centers to appoint Liz Travis as a vice president for women’s faculty issues. And that was really far-seeing. And we did surveys. I think she’s done a fantastic job. She was always nominating women to be on committees, and so on. And I remember once I was asked to be on some committee, and I thought to myself, I know I’m only being asked because I’m a woman. Should I do it, or shouldn’t I? And then I thought, no, I must do it to show that they put me on for the wrong reasons. And I did it.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Why was it the wrong reasons?

SPITZ:

Well, the reason that they put me on, I felt, was only because I was a woman. Not because I was the right person for the committee membership.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Interesting. And so you didn’t feel you could contribute adequately?

SPITZ:

So I went on the committee, and I felt that I showed them that not only was I a woman, but I was equal to the task.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Oh, interesting. Okay. Very interesting. Okay. Okay, what are some changes that you saw? Because you were at the institution almost 20 years.

SPITZ:

No, it was longer than that.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Longer than that.

SPITZ:

But don’t forget, for many of those years, I was very under the radar and pretty junior, and not really aware of the workings of the senior [leadership]. So it was only in the last few years that I was much more aware of what was going on.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Well, what did you observe, though, in terms of changes for women? What were the changes that have occurred at the institution over the course of your tenure there?

SPITZ:

Well, at the beginning, there were very few women in senior positions. I think Margaret Kripke was the first department chair. And Ellen Gritz [oral history interview]was, I think, the second. And I think I was the third. And I was the first MD to be a department chair. Now, of course, there are many department chairs. And in fact, what really brought this home to me, I received the Faculty—what is it called? After one has retired from MD Anderson, then there’s a—for a certain number of years, there’s an award that’s given to—the [Distinguished] Faculty Alumnus [Award]. I received that this year.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Oh!

SPITZ:

And among perhaps the most exciting part of that award was a luncheon that was held for senior women faculty. And it was—I thought there would be maybe three or four women, but the room was full. There must have been over 20 women there. It was a really gratifying experience to know how many senior faculty women there were. And then, of course, you know the book that Liz created, Legends—

ROSOLOWSKI:

Legends and Legacies.

SPITZ:

—and Legacies. And that gorgeous photo.

ROSOLOWSKI:

That was such—

SPITZ:

That was Photoshopped, but it was a fantastic picture. I have it hanging in my home.

ROSOLOWSKI:

It’s all of the pictures of all the women in cocktail dresses and eveningwear, and stuff.

SPITZ:

Yes.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Yeah, you can (inaudible).

SPITZ:

And actually, I was opposed to that. I felt that it should show initially, but I realized I was wrong. I felt that the women should be in their workday clothes, because we’re not trying to glorify women’s looks and graces. But in fact, I was wrong, because it’s a magnificent picture. And actually, I always tell a story. I told it last night to someone. I was on the study section for quite a long time, and then I rotated off, as one does. And I was at a scientific meeting, and one of the men said, “Oh, we’ve missed you so much on the study section.” And I thought, how wonderful, he’s going to say, “We miss your insightful reviews.” But he said, “No,” he said, “You always wore such bright, gorgeous colors. We miss the colors.” And I was devastated! So that ties in with what clothes one wears, right?

ROSOLOWSKI:

Well, hopefully he also missed your insightful—

SPITZ:

Well, he didn’t say that. (laughter) Anyway—

ROSOLOWSKI:

Are there any other observations you have of how things have changed?

SPITZ:

Well, you know, I haven’t been at MD Anderson for quite some time. And certainly I left before Dr. DePinho [oral history interview] took over. So I cannot comment on anything since he’s—but I felt that Dr. Mendelsohn was supportive of women and women’s issues. He always treated women with respect.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What are some other changes that you’ve seen, you saw at MD Anderson? I’m kind of looking at over the long-term. What were big periods of institutional change that you recall? And what happened at those moments?

SPITZ:

Well, I remember one was MD Anderson originally had no requirements that there be faculty salaries on grants. And Dr. Mendelsohn put in place a very reasonable 30 percent of one’s salary should be on grants. I mean, Harvard at that time was probably 80 percent on grant. I think it’s now 90 percent. And some of the faculty were in an uproar about it. But in fact, I think it was probably a very wise decision. We needed to become much more like other cancer centers.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Why is that important?

SPITZ:

Well, it’s unheard of that there shouldn’t be a requirement for faculty to have some of their salary on grants. Every cancer center does it. Every academic institution does it. Actually, it must make people envious of MD Anderson if they don’t do it. I think the thought is, well, they’re obviously so rich, they don’t need the money. So I think it was a very wise decision. That was one major change. And then, of course, I think—you know, I think to ask about the climate at MD Anderson and the political changes, and the changes in referral of patients and so on, self-referral versus referral by physicians, there are people much better able to discuss that than me. Those didn’t impact me directly, and therefore, I can’t really comment on those, although they had major impacts on MD Anderson. I think MD Anderson grew very quickly. There were so many buildings built and changes made, that inevitably the culture of the institution changed. Originally it was a much smaller institution, and you knew many of the people, the junior and the senior, and you knew the administrators. And it was a much more personal relationship. Now it’s so much bigger, and it’s far less personal.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Did you find that that growth and that kind of weakening of personal relationships changed the way you had to do your own work?

SPITZ:

Yes, I’m sure it did.

ROSOLOWSKI:

How—can you think of some ways?

ROSOLOWSKI:

You didn’t—there were more layers, you couldn’t go directly to the person involved. You had to—there was much more bureaucracy, which is never efficient. But of course our own division grew rapidly, and we got our own building. And those were very trying times, when we had to plan the building, we had to plan the layout of our department. We had to plan on how we would situate the faculty, what sort of offices, and how the support staff would be situated, what would be the culture of the department.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Tell me about those decisions.

SPITZ:

Well, many of them were made for us. For example, in the old days, there was great variation in department chair office size. And of course we moved around the Houston main building so much that I went from a tiny office, and at one stage they had no room for us, so we were placed in Dr. LeMaistre’s old suite. And I had this enormous office with a private bathroom. And then at other times, I had a tiny office. But when we moved to the new building, there was strict criteria in place so that department chairs had an office configuration. The deputy department chair had a configuration. The faculty had specific office sizes. And not everybody was happy with those decision, but they were not my decisions. They were made by the institution.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What about the decisions you referred to regarding culture? What was some of the issues you had to go through?

SPITZ:

Well, I was a firm believer that it was not only the scientific culture, but the quality of life in the department. So, for example, I formed a care team, which were representatives of the faculty and the administrative staff and support staff, and program directors, and so on. And these people would—they had Jolly Trolley, for example. They’d hand out snacks and treats at certain times. They would organize the holiday party every year. They would organize special events, and recognize birthdays and special events in the people’s lives. And I think that sort of quality of life is important. For example, after 9-11, every year we had a 9-11 commemoration event. Obviously it wasn’t a party, but what we did was, we used to recite the Gettysburg Address. I don’t know if I told you about that last time.

ROSOLOWSKI:

I think you may have mentioned that last time.

SPITZ:

Yes.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Yeah.

SPITZ:

And unfortunately, it’s no longer done, and I think that’s sad.

ROSOLOWSKI:

I think the recognition that they’re actually human beings rather than functions in a department.

SPITZ:

Yes. And we used to recognize all of the post-docs when they completed their program, or when the pre-docs completed their doctoral degrees, we tried to honor and recognize all these people. And then, of course, if there were tragedies, like somebody had a fire or a flood in their home, we tried to organize and help each person.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What are some things that you hope, and when you left in 2010, what are some things that you hoped would be carried on?

SPITZ:

Oh, I hoped the department would go from strength to strength and continue to be a first-rate department that was highly regarded throughout the epidemiology community. That was my hope, because it’s like my baby or my grandbaby. I started it from nothing, and I worked very hard to achieve it.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Yeah. I had just one additional question, which was about the field of integrative epidemiology. And you talked a good deal about that last time. But I wondered if you could tell me kind of, what do you think is the power of bringing all the sciences together, and kind of in the long-term?

SPITZ:

Well, I think this is the way epidemiology is moving. You know, when I started in the 1980s, our instruments of use were a pen and paper. That was all we had, and we could question patients and look at correlations between lifestyle and risk of cancer outcome. And all we had for genetic susceptibility to disease was family history. We’ve come a tremendous way now. We have these high throughput technologies. We have very advanced biostatistical and bioinformatical approaches to analyze these high dimensional data. We have brand new disciplines like System Biology, Functional Genomics, Microbiomics. And I think we have to educate epidemiologists to enter this new era of team science and multi-disciplinary research. Obviously , no one person can understand all these new technologies. But they need to understand and develop a common language so that they can interact with scientists and other disciplines, and they can become members of the team and conduct transdisciplinary research.

When we started with technology, we had PCR. And we could look at a specific polymorphism in a specific gene, in maybe 100 or 200 subjects, that was all we could do. And these studies were underpowered. And we selected candidate genes with very little knowledge of their functional relevance, and we found some significant results. I suppose you could consider it beginner’s luck. But a few of these studies were replicated. We had no idea of the functional relevance of the genes that we identified. And we entered an era of—I think it was almost despair, where epidemiologists were considered to be promoting false hypotheses, they were over-exaggerating results. We’d found everything that we could possibly find, and we needed to leave all this work to lab scientists. That was the prevailing feeling. But fortunately, that didn’t last too long.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Wow. You hadn’t mentioned that at that time. I mean, was that a period where it was difficult to attract people to the field, even?

SPITZ:

No, not so much. But it was a difficult time to get recognition for epidemiology, because people were writing editorials criticizing epidemiology.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Oh, well. So what made you keep the faith during that time?

SPITZ:

Well, I had no choice. I had no other training.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Right. Right.

SPITZ:

And I think we overcame those hurdles. We overcame—I think they called it the “lost decade.” And I think epidemiology now is going from strength to strength. And if I were a young person starting out now, I’d be thrilled to be studying epidemiology. I think the prospects are golden.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Is there anything else that you would like to add this morning?

SPITZ:

No. I think I’ve said more than enough. Probably regret 50 percent of what I’ve said. (laughter)

ROSOLOWSKI:

Oh, I hope not! Well, I wanted to thank you for taking the time this morning.

SPITZ:

It’s my pleasure.

ROSOLOWSKI:

If there’s nothing else you’d like to add?

SPITZ:

Well, MD Anderson was such a nurturing, caring, warm environment when I started. And when I look back, I realize, and I’ve visited many other cancer centers, and I’m at a different cancer center now. I think MD Anderson is unique in the resources it has in the caring clinicians, in the collaborative scientists. And I hope this won’t change. Perhaps it has. Many people—I read a lot, and I hear a lot. I have no way of knowing whether it’s true or not, but MD Anderson, in my day, certainly was a caring environment where money was not the bottom line. Caring for the patient was the bottom line. And the clinicians were truly exceptional. And they were very helpful in terms of generating research for us. They were wonderful collaborators as well.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Well, thank you for that.

SPITZ:

Sure.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And I’m turning off the recorder at about 10 minutes after 10.