Harvard Transfers Medical Research From Thorndike

The Medical School will abandon the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory at Boston City Hospital (BCH) and the Harvard faculty will move its research activities to Beth Israel Hospital.

The relocation decision disclosed late in August came six months after the Boston City Hospital trustees decided to award sole responsibility for professional services at BCH to Boston University. Administrative control of the services was previously shared by the B.U., Tufts and Harvard Medical Schools.

In announcing the transfer, Dr. Robert H. Ebert, dean of the Medical School, cited the recent appointment of Dr. Franklin Epstein as physician-in-chief at the Beth Israel Hospital as a factor in the move.

Epstein, professor of Medicine, had headed two of Harvard's medical services at BCH and is director of the Thorndike Lab.

An ad hoc committee chaired by President Bok unanimously voted to relocate the laboratory activities to Beth Israel. The committee began consideration of a new site after the BCH board of trustees ousted Harvard from the hospital.


The Thorndike Lab has been manned entirely by Harvard faculty, fellows and students since its birth 50 years ago, and the research done there has been funded largely by Harvard endowments.

The University continues to run the laboratory which is owned by the city of Boston. All directors of the laboratory have been professors of Medicine in the Harvard faculty.

Epstein said yesterday that research activities will be transferred in stages to new headquarters at Beth Israel as facilities at the hospital are prepared.

He said that some activities will be moved "in the course of the next year or so."

Harvard fought hard last February to retain its share in administrative control of Boston City Hospital after B.U.'s bid to capture sole authority.

The trustees voted in March to award jurisdiction to B.U., ending a bitter struggle between the three Boston-area medical schools that were vying for control.

At that time Ebert, vowing that Harvard would honor its BCH commitments until they expired, predicted that the more than 100-year-old affiliation between the hospital and the Medical School would ultimately come to an end