Barbanel, Josh. "Medical Center Hyphen Becomes a Vs." New York Times, 16 December 1990,
There have been several items in this file suggesting that science is not a field for the faint of
heart. Scientists, especially the successful ones, have big egos. Science is a manly art. Science is
gutsy and not for the timid. Only the myth of science pretends that the participants are gentle
people who quietly seek the truth in the peace and quiet of their labs. The truth is that science is a
battleground wherein reputations are made or lost and where to the victor goes the spoils.
Here is an inside look at a battle between two medical stars: two surgeons with power positions
at NYHospital and Cornell University, two facilities which share the same physical plant in New
York. Indeed, Cornell and New York Medical have been engaged in a cooperative venture since
1927 but the hospital dates back to the 18th century. New York Hospital has been the teaching
hospital for Cornell for years and, as if there were not enough of a structural problem already in
hospitals, the complexities are magnified by the union of the two institutions. Now the heads of
each are at loggerheads and the system is shown to be fragile. The Hospital's president is David
B. Skinner who had been at the head of the hospital since 1987. He is a famous surgeon. The
Dean of the Medical College is Dr. G. Tom Shires. Skinner and Shire have been at one another's
throat and the latest tiff concerns title to the property to which both institutions claim ownership.
"Many doctors say the tense relations between the university and the hospital date to the
appointments of two aggressive surgeons to top posts at the medical center."
Shires has the academic reputation as one of the best surgeons in the country. Skinner is also a
Big Name and came from Chicago where "...he had a reputation for being arrogant and
autocratic." Both came to the hospital-medical college at a time when finances were a disaster
and the reputation of the college and hospital were at a low ebb. Both set out to remedy what
each saw as "the problem."
Personalities aside, Cornell officials "said they had no intention of pulling out of the medical
center. And last week, as details of the dispute became public, the hospital and the university
began negotiations to settle the lawsuit."
Institutional marriages can be strained when the egos of surgeons are involved. Big time science
is a bruising business and, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.