John Edward Fogarty was born in Providence, Rhode Island on March 23, 1913 to Cora Whelan and John Peter Fogarty. He graduated from LaSalle Academy and attended Providence College. John then joined his older brother and father as an apprentice bricklayer. He subsequently became the President of Bricklayers Union No. 1 and began laying the groundwork for his life in public service. In 1940 John Fogarty was elected to the United States House of Representatives at the age of twenty-seven, defeating an incumbent.
In January of 1947 he was assigned to the Appropriations Committee and soon thereafter became Chairman of the Subcommittee for Labor, Health, Education and Welfare. During his tenure appropriations for the National Institutes of Health rose from $3.5 million in 1946 to $1.5 billion in 1967. In 1955 he directed the first Federal funding of activities in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities in the amount of $750 thousand dollars. That amount would increase to $334 million in 1967.
Wearing his trademark green bow tie, Mr. Fogarty collaborated with his colleague, Senator Lister Hill of Alabama to
co-sponsor the Hill-Fogarty “Health for Peace” Bill which provided money for research and training on an international basis. He went on to secure funding to establish the National Institute of Dental Research, the National Library of Medicine and many other research facilities.
Congressman Fogarty developed a professional and personal relationship with the ranking minority member of his sub-committee, Melvin R. Laird of Wisconsin. Their friendship spanned more than a decade and produced landmark legislation that would forever change the landscape of public health policy. According to Representative Laird:
“John Fogarty and I worked as a team, as partners in progress. Together we delivered the rationale and the votes that raised the NIH from a shoestring operation to one of the most preeminent biomedical research complexes on earth.”
Chosen for his ability as a statesman, as well as his knowledge of health issues and public policy Fogarty was appointed by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson on numerous occasions to be a Congressional Delegate at the (WHO) World Health Organization meetings held in Geneva, Switzerland.
In the 89th Congress he introduced many bills that were enacted into law. Among them were provisions for:
- Establishment of the Administration of Aging in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare
- The National Technical Institute for the Deaf
- Community Mental Health Centers Act Amendments
- Control of Drug Abuse
- Health Research Facilities Amendments
- Water Pollution Control Act
- Medical Complex Centers for Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke
- Medical Library Assistance Act
- Health Professional Educational Assistance Act
- Library Services Act Amendments
- Model Secondary School for the Deaf Act
- Vocational Rehabilitation Act.
In addition, he was the original sponsor for the National Foundation on Arts and Humanities and helped to enact the Manpower Act of 1965 and the Economic Opportunity Amendments of 1965.
At the time of his death John Fogarty had introduced legislation that would provide multiphase health screening tests for all Americans 50 and over, legislation to amend the Social Security Act which would increase benefit payments by an average of 50%, amendments to extend and improve programs for child welfare services and bills to improve health education. The Congressman worked tirelessly for his constituents in Rhode Island, across the nation and around the world until his untimely death at his desk in the Longworth House Office Building on January 10, 1967.
The following year Melvin Laird sponsored legislation that brought John Fogarty’s dream to fruition. The bill signed by President Johnson established the John E. Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The Center began with a budget of $500,000 in 1968 and has grown to over $70 million today. It supports over 5,000 scientists in more than 100 countries throughout the world. For more information please go to: http://www.fic.nih.gov/About/Pages/History.aspx.