Dr. Arthur Lee Herbst, associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and leader of the research team which discovered the relation between estrogen and vaginal cancer is leaving Harvard to join the University of Chicago, the University of Chicago announced yesterday.
Herbst will become Joseph Bolivar de Lee Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and chairman of that department at Chicago, and will work at Chicago's Lying-In Hospital for Women.
"Basically it's an outstanding offer at an outstanding university," Herbst said yesterday. "I'm not mad at anyone here," he added.
In 1971, Herbst and a team of Boston doctors discovered that daughters of women who took diethylstilbestrol (DES), an estrogen compound, during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage had a distinct tendency to develop vaginal cancer.
Herbst and Dr. Robert E. Scully, professor of Pathology at MGH, established a national registry of cancer patients in order to confirm their discovery. Their search found about 250 cases linked to the drug, confirming their hypothesis.
"Dr. Herbst is an extremely capable man and has made invaluable contributions in the field of estrogen and cancer. We're sorry to see him go," Dr. Kurt J. Isselbacher, Mallinckrodt Professor of Medicine, said last night.
Dr. Kenneth Ryan, Ladd Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and chairman of that department, said yesterday, "this university has traditionally been the training place for other schools. His research has been distinguished, and Chicago's gain is our loss."
Herbst said he was offered the position "a while back," but "the details were all worked out in the past month."