Judith L. Pearson: Crusade to Heal America: The Remarkable Life of Mary Lasker
Judith L. Pearson

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Award-winning author Judith L. Pearson discusses her latest biography, in conversation with former Good Morning Arizona anchor Olivia Fierro.


The never-before-told story of the woman who moved mountains for medical research and human health.

“I am opposed to heart disease and cancer the way one is opposed to sin.” With that as her battle cry, health activist and philanthropist  Mary Woodard Lasker had a singular goal: saving lives by increasing medical research. Together with her husband, advertising genius  Albert, they created the Lasker Foundation,  bestowing the Lasker Awards. Known as the  “American Nobels,” these became the most prestigious research awards in America. The  Laskers’ next step was transforming the sleepy  and ineffectual American Society for the Control of Cancer, reinventing it as the American Cancer Society in 1944. 

But the real increase in medical research  funding occurred when Mary discovered a  revolutionary source: the federal government. “I’m just a catalytic agent,” she would insist, while she tirelessly lobbied Congress and presidents  alike. She played a major role in expanding  the National Institutes of Health from a  single entity to the largest research facility in the world. A feminist who used her femininity  wisely, Mary’s ultimate victory was bringing  together two political adversaries to help launch the original cancer moonshot: the 1971 National Cancer Act. 
This deeply researched biography paints the portrait of a woman who was savvy, steely, and deliberate. Mary Lasker courageously positioned  herself at the crossroads of politics, science,  and medicine. At a time when women in re- search laboratories and the halls of Congress were anomalies, she smashed stereotypes  in the fashion of Jeannette Rankin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Shirley Chisholm.  As eloquently described in this absorbing  history, the country’s march to conquer  humanity’s most feared maladies was well- fueled by its fearless and feisty crusader,  Mary Lasker.

Judith Pearson is the award-winning author of three previous books: The Wolves at the Door, Belly of the Beast, and From Shadows to Life, which won the 2022 Nautilus Gold Award. A graduate of Michigan State University, Pearson and her husband divide their days between mountains and beaches.

Crusade to Heal America: The Remarkable Life of Mary Lasker By Judith L. Pearson Cover Image
ISBN: 9798887701561
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Mayo Clinic Press - September 19th, 2023