Making Cancer History Voices Collection
Peter Mansell, Sue Cooper and Earl Shelp Interview 1
Dr. Peter W. A. Mansell pioneered AIDS research in Houston. In 1973, Dr. Mansell began researching immunostimulants, the agents that stimulate the body’s immune system. In 1975, he published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute the beneficial role of beta-1, 3-glucan in treating cancer. Since then he has published hundreds of articles, abstracts, books and chapters on AIDS, oncology, glucans and beta glucan activity and immune system diseases. In September 1981, Dr. Mansell joined M. D. Anderson as Associate Director of Cancer Prevention. A few months after his arrival, he was faced with a peculiar case that would later be recognized as Houston’s first AIDS patient. Dr. Mansell enlisted a small team that included Sue Cooper, a social worker at M. D. Anderson. Together they spread awareness by educating the community. In 1986, the federal government awarded a $5.8 million contract to M. D. Anderson to further its research program on AIDS. At this point Dr. Mansell was Director of the AIDS Research Program and principal investigator on the contract. This contract afforded Dr. Mansell to open the Institute for Immunological Disorders in August 1986. The Institute was the first in the country devoted entirely to research and treatment of AIDS. Sue Cooper devoted herself to the new institute as the only social worker to counsel AIDS patients and their families. The Institute closed in December 1987. Dr. Mansell left M. D. Anderson in 1989.
Dr. Earl Shelp’s background is in medical ethics, theological ethics and pastoral theology. He received a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Seminary in 1976. During the AIDS epidemic in 1985, he collaborated with Dr. Mansell and focused his efforts on the disease and its challenges to religion, ethics, medicine and public policy. Together they authored AIDS: Personal stories in a pastoral perspective in 1986.
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Interview conducted between Peter Mansell, Sue Cooper and Earl Shelp on September 20, 2004.
Peter Mansell, Sue Cooper and Earl Shelp Interview 1, September 20, 2004, Research Medical Library, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Oral history was edited by Jewelry Yep, HRC Intern, March 2011