David Rall
David Platt Rall was a cancer specialist and a leader in environmental health studies, whose work in environmental health
Environmental health
Environmental health is the branch of public health that is concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect human health...

 helped turn it into a scientific discipline. Rall also advanced public health
Public health
Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals" . It is concerned with threats to health based on population health...

 and prevention. He directed the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is a part of the National Institutes of Health , which is in turn a part of the Department of Health and Human Services ....

 from 1971 - 1990. His work on toxicology and carcinogenesis was recognized by his appointment as the first director of the National Toxicology Program
National Toxicology Program
The National Toxicology Program is an inter-agency program run by the United States Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate, evaluate, and report on toxicology within public agencies....

 in 1978. He held the rank of Assistant Surgeon General in the United States Public Health Service
United States Public Health Service
The Public Health Service Act of 1944 structured the United States Public Health Service as the primary division of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare , which later became the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The PHS comprises all Agency Divisions of Health and...

. He also chaired the World Health Organization's Program on Chemical Safety.

Born in Naperville, Illinois
Naperville, Illinois
Naperville is a city in DuPage and Will Counties in Illinois in the United States, voted the second best place to live in the United States by Money Magazine in 2006. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 141,853. It is the fifth largest city in the state, behind Chicago,...

, Rall attended North Central College
North Central College
North Central College is a leading liberal arts college providing students at different stages of life and from different ethnic, economic and religious backgrounds with comprehensive educational programs.-Academics:...

 and received his BS degree in 1946 where his father was president; his MS in Pharmacology
Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function...

 from Northwestern University in 1948; his M.D. and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

 School of Medicine in 1951. Rall interned at Bellevue Hospital in New York City from 1952 - 1953 when he joined the National Cancer Institute
National Cancer Institute
The National Cancer Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health , which is one of 11 agencies that are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NCI coordinates the U.S...

 in 1954.

He began his research career as a scientist at NCI, where he served in a variety of research and administrative positions until 1971. Dr. Rall also served as a surgeon (1955–1959), a senior surgeon (1959–1960), medical director (1963–1971), and assistant surgeon general (1971–1990) in the United States Public Health Services.

Dr. Rall's early work on the blood brain barrier led to modern treatment to prevent the spread of leukemia cells to the brain. Much of Dr. Rall's work focused on reducing the side effects of anticancer drugs
Chemotherapy regimens
A fundamental philosophy of combination cancer therapy is that different drugs work through different cytotoxic mechanisms. Because they have different dose-limiting adverse effects, they can be given together at full doses in chemotherapy regimens....

, which are often toxic in patients when administered in large enough doses to destroy cancer cells. He also researched the effects of prolonged exposure to chemicals in the environments of people in certain occupations. He created the NIEHS journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, in 1972. He was the author of some 200 scientific publications and was awarded the DHEW Distinguished Service Medal of the PHS and the Arnold J. Lehman Award of the Society of Toxicology. In addition to numerous awards he received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Ohio School of Medicine. In 1988, Dr. Rall received a Merit Award from the Northwestern Alumni Association for his professional accomplishments.

Following his retirement, he chaired the program of chemical safety for the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

, served as foreign secretary of the Institute of Medicine
Institute of Medicine
The Institute of Medicine is a not-for-profit, non-governmental American organization founded in 1970, under the congressional charter of the National Academy of Sciences...

 at the National Academy of Sciences
United States National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

 and was a board member of the Environmental Defense Fund. Dr. Rall also was a scientific counselor at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is the United States’ federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the U.S...


Rall died in Bordeaux, France as a result of injuries suffered in an automobile accident.
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