News and Commentary The Macy Story

Since 1930, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation has worked to improve health in the United States. To understand how we’ve carried out that mission and our impact over the last 82 years, we’ve published a history of the Macy Foundation.

Beginning with the story of founder Kate Macy Ladd, the book chronicles how the Foundation has evolved under the leadership and innovation of eight presidents, and spotlights important milestones that have shaped the course of health professions education in the United States.

Some highlights from our history:

    •1930: Albert Einstein is awarded a grant to investigate the fundamental laws of physics.

      •1940s: The Foundation responds to World War II by sponsoring medical research on such topics as traumatic shock and distributing millions of reprints of journal articles to doctors serving overseas.

        •1946-1953: The Macy Conferences on Cybernetics convene leading scientists from various disciplines to share ideas, research, and data. Conferences become a centerpiece of the Foundation’s efforts in advancing the education and training of health professionals.

          •1960s: The Minority Groups for Medicine program is established to help increase diversity among students and faculty in U.S. medical schools.

            •1980s: The Cognitive Sciences in Medicine Program is launched to reshape medical education, moving away from rote learning to an emphasis on clinical reasoning and problem-solving.

              •1990s: The Harvard–Macy Institute is created to improve the teaching capabilities of medical school faculty.

                •2001: In the aftermath of 9/11, the Foundation gives a quarter-million dollars to local and national health crises caused by the terrorist event.

                Today, under the leadership of George E. Thibault, MD, the Macy Foundation is focused on aligning health professions education with contemporary health care needs and a rapidly evolving health care system.

                “The importance of improving health professional education as a means of improving the health of the public has never been greater,” writes Thibault in the book’s preface. “We are all grateful to Kate Macy Ladd for having the prescience to set us on this course.”

                The Macy Foundation remains the only national foundation solely dedicated to improving the health of the public by advancing the education and training of health professionals. Read more about our funding priorities.

                Read the full history of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation here.

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