Former U.S. Representative Paul G. Rogers, 87, a founder of the Friends of the National Library of Medicine (FNLM), died October 13, 2008 of lung cancer. A Democrat who represented West Palm Beach, Fla., for 24 years, he was known as "Mr. Health" for his leading role in passing key environmental and health care legislation.
"Paul Rogers was one of the best friends ever of the National Library of Medicine," noted NLM Director Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D. "A courtly gentleman, he had an uncanny ability to see the potential of medical research and aggressively fought for it. He had big, powerful ideas and always looked to the future. He will be sorely missed."
As chair of the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, Rogers racked up an unmatched record of groundbreaking health policy advances for all Americans, including the Migrant Health Act; Clean Air Act; Health Manpower Training Act; National Cancer Act; Heart, Lung, and Blood Act; Emergency Medical Services Act; Community Health Centers Act; Medicare-Medicaid Anti-Fraud and Abuse Amendments; and the National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Act. He was honored with the 2004 Distinguished Service Award by the NLM Board of Regents.
Throughout the 1960s and '70s, Rogers was an ardent supporter of the National Library of Medicine on Capitol Hill. Thanks largely to his efforts, the Library established a research center for biomedical communications. This ultimately led to creation of the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, in 1968, by joint Resolution of Congress. After retiring from Congress in 1979, he became an advisor to Dr. Lindberg, helping to craft the Library's long-range activities in the mid-1980s.
He was instrumental in helping to establish the nonprofit FNLM in 1986. As chair, he developed a coalition of individuals, medical associations, hospitals, health science libraries, corporations, and foundations into an effective, productive organization. One of FNLM's most important achievements is NIH MedlinePlus magazine, the free quarterly publication you are now reading. It is published jointly by the Friends and the National Institutes of Health, with editorial supervision by NLM. Since debuting in 2006, circulation has risen to 500,000, with a readership of over 5 million. It is distributed to physicians' offices, hospitals, clinics, and libraries nationwide.
In addition to NIH MedlinePlus, visitors to NIH, in Bethesda, can enjoy a lasting, visual tribute to Paul Rogers and his many contributions. In the main plaza, designated in 2000 by Congress as the Paul G. Rogers Plaza, a marker proudly bears Paul's vivid exclamation, "Without research, there is no hope!"
"Mr. Health" is survived by his wife of 46 years, Rebecca, of Washington, D.C.; daughter, Rebecca Laing Sisto of Westfield, N.J.; a brother; and four grandchildren.