City to Sue Harvard Hospital Over Name of Research Lab

The city of Boston will file suit against Harvard-staffed Beth Israel Hospital in a few weeks for Beth Israel's continued use of the name Thorndike for its major research laboratory, a name held for the past 75 years by the major lab in Boston City Hospital, Herbert P. Gleason '50 Boston's Corporation Counsel said yesterday.

Harvard withdrew from the Thorndike lab at Boston City Hospital in 1973 after a controversy with Boston University, which shared the facility, and the city. At that time, the lab was turned over to B.U.

Ignores Requests

Gleason said that in spite of repeated requests from the city, Harvard has continued to use the Thorndike name, associated with Nobel-prize winning research on pernicious anemia, for its own research in Beth Israel.

"The name Thorndike belongs to the city of Boston which constructed the hospital in memory of Thorndike," Gleason said. "To have anyone else use the name creates confusion and confusion is something the law can prevent."

Leon S. White, Boston's Commissioner of Health and Hospitals said yesterday that the dispute was "an academic issue" occurring on the "inter-med school level."

But Dr. Allen S. Cohen '47, chief of medicine and director of the Thorndike lab at Boston City said last night that "possibly the city of Boston and its people have been wronged." Cohen said that while it is important for the city hospital to be associated with the tradition of Thorndike, "Harvard doesn't need any other names."

The Thorndike Tradition

Dr. Sidney H. Ingbar, director of the Beth Israel Lab, agreed that the "concern" was the "tradition attached to the name Thorndike" and that this tradition probably "relates the lab more strongly to Harvard."

"The feeling I have is that the world knows this is a small, tight community," Ingbar continued. "The name Thorndike means nothing except within the academic community."

Ingbar said the dispute was "unfortunate" since the two labs are distinguishable and "could choose to live happily side by side, even in the same city."