University of Minnesota

C. James Van Slyke, MD

1900 — 1966

Cassius James Van Slyke received his MD from the University of Minnesota in 1928 and immediately joined the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) where he served until retirement in 1959, first in the hospital corps at Staten Island, researching venereal disease, then in charge of the VD Division in Washington until named chief of the Research Grants Office. In 1948 he was named first director of the National Heart Institute (NHI) soon after it was created by President Truman under the National Heart Act on June 16, 1948. He immediately appointed Paul Dudley White the first Executive Director of the institute’s Advisory Heart Council, which set national cardiovascular disease research policy for NIH. Van Slyke served as Director until 1952.

One of his early acts in 1949 was to move the administration of the Framingham Heart Study, established under the Bureau of State Services of the USPHS in 1947, to the NHI and to appoint his Staten Island colleague, T. Roy Dawber, as its director. He also set up cooperative agreements jointly sponsored by the government and several universities around the country, including one with Minnesota, providing initiative and stability for select CVD investigations. He left the NHI to become Associate, then Deputy Director, of the NIH in 1952 and retired in 1959.

In 1957 he received one of the first Lasker Public Service awards: “For his unique contributions in laying the foundation for a national program of medical research and training.”


The NIH Almanac, retrieved April 29, 2006.