For Hub City Times
MARSHFIELD — The following statement is from Marshfield Clinic Health System CEO Dr. Susan Turney:
It’s with great sadness that we learned today that Marshfield, Wisconsin, native Melvin Laird has died. Laird was a champion for health care in Wisconsin and the U.S. His work helped shape medical research as we know it.
Mr. Laird understood that while good health care is vital, medical research is needed to give physicians the latest data, technology, and information to provide the greatest patient care possible. He was a leader who represented Wisconsin and his country with vigor and strength during a difficult time. We are thankful for his decades of selfless service.
As a legislator representing Wisconsin’s 7th District, which encompasses most of the Marshfield Clinic service area, Laird took a special interest in medical research. Laird played a key role in furthering the mission of Marshfield Clinic, including helping secure medical research grants. As an influential member of Congress, especially as the ranking member of the Health, Education, and Welfare Appropriations Committee, Laird worked for the expansion of America’s medical research programs and facilities. He shepherded many health and educational initiatives through Congress, including the present legislative authority for health maintenance organizations.
In his ongoing efforts to contribute to the advancement of health care worldwide, Laird repeatedly confirmed his support for core areas of research at Marshfield Clinic, such as human molecular genetics, cancer molecular genetics, agricultural and epidemiological research, rural and agricultural health and safety, reproductive toxicology, and molecular and cellular biology.
During his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1952-69, Laird played an integral role in successfully sponsoring 12 regional cancer centers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and the Library of Medicine. Laird also worked tirelessly to expand the National Institutes of Health, the National Environment Center in North Carolina, and many other health-related programs. Throughout his lifetime, Laird has received more than 300 honorary degrees and awards, including the Albert Lasker Award for Promoting Medical Research.
As Marshfield Clinic and Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation grew in researchers and resources, Melvin Laird was instrumental in helping secure many research grants from both the federal government and private sector. He served as a member of the Research Foundation’s National Advisory Council from its inception in 1982 and became an emeritus member in 1998.
The Laird Center for Medical Research, is a world-class medical research and education facility, located on the Marshfield Clinic campus. Marshfield Clinic’s mission is to improve the health and well being of people and communities through accessible, high quality health care, research, and education.
Conducting medical research that directly benefits patients has been the goal for the Laird Center for Medical Research since the dedication of the original building in September 1997. The expanded building is a physical expression of the collaborative efforts by researchers and clinicians to bring research results to patient care. Clinical and research laboratories share many resources, creating both operational efficiencies and an environment for the development of new ideas among multiple scientific disciplines.