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Health Care Hall of Fame

Mary Woodard Lasker
Inducted in 1990

Mary Woodard Lasker
1900-1994
Inducted in 1990


The flu pandemic of 1918 played a key part of Lasker’s life in more ways than one. She contracted but did not succumb to the flu during that time and saw how doctors knew little about influenza and other diseases.

Eventually Lasker became a tireless supporter of medical research and medical education, and in 1942 she and her husband, Albert D. Lasker, played key roles in the reorganization and renaming of the Birth Control Federation to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Three years later she helped launch the American Cancer Society’s first large-scale fundraising drive. She went on to become a Washington advocate for funding, and is credited with helping to increase federal funding for cancer research.

The Lasker Foundation, which she and her husband started to provide medical research funding, still exists.

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