No way to repay man who's given much

by James Patterson

Geniuses don’t come along every day. Which is why they are in such great demand.p(text). The University of Notre Dame knows a genius when it sees one. Which is why the prestigious Indiana school employs people such as noted cancer researcher and scientist Morris Pollard well past normal retirement age. Which is why Pollard is 85, and still faithfully heading off to work each day.

“I love my work,” he told me. “I suppose that is what keeps me going.”

Something sure does. Men all over the world, particularly black men, have Morris Pollard to thank for his profound medical research on prostate cancer. What he discovered can potentially save millions of lives.

But how does he do it? How does a man 20 years past retirement age go in the office day after day to do work that could save countless lives, most of them probably long after he’s gone?

“I’ve been fortunate,” he says modestly. “The work has been interesting. They built this laboratory for me and I like doing what I’m doing.” The work that the brilliant director of the Lobund Laboratory at Notre Dame has done for the last 41 years is remarkable.

Conducting experiments with rats, Pollard discovered that the significance of prostate cancer diminishes with the increase of soybean in the diet. Though there is no solid evidence that black men have higher testosterone levels than other men, Pollard suspects that is the case because black men contract deadly clinical prostate cancer at an estimated eight to 10 percent higher than white men; prostate cancer is caused by high testosterone levels.

“We demonstrated that soybean added to a diet protects against the development of prostrate cancer in our rats,” said the professor emeritus. “We characterized this model for about 10 years to determine how close it was to the disease in man, and we came to the conclusion that it was the best that was available.” His soybean theory was confirmed by studies at the National Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins University and University of Iowa.

What’s truly amazing is Pollard’s accomplishments have occurred in spite of the personal challenges he’s had to face. He’s back to work after having buried his wife of 63 years last month (she was his first date in college).

He keeps working despite what happened to his son, Jonathan Pollard. How does he keep up his spirits when his son has been convicted of espionage and sentenced to life for passing documents to an ally that, according to a treaty between the countries, deserved to get them?

How did Pollard keep his sanity when people such as Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and former federal prosecutor Joseph diGenova called his son Jonathan a “traitor” when there is not a shred of evidence anywhere to prove that Jonathan committed treason or put any U.S. agents or servicemen in danger?

If the information that Jonathan leaked to Israel in the early ‘80s while working as a civilian analyst for U.S. Naval Intelligence was sold to the Soviet Union and so damaging to U.S. security interests, why won’t the government say which agents have been killed, or exposed due to his actions? Where are the weeping widows? The grieving families and friends? Nowhere! Because there aren’t any dead agents.

Why are Jonathan’s lawyers in court right now trying to see classified memos that the government surreptitiously used to renege on its promise not to seek a life sentence in exchange for his plea to one count of conspiracy to commit espionage? Show us the documents.

In fact, the truth is that Jonathan gave Israel classified information that by law it should have received in the first place, detailing Iraq’s budding nuclear and biological war programs. It is believed that the information supplied by Jonathan was the catalyst for Israel’s 1981 air force attack on Iraq’s new nuclear facility.

And those documents were responsible for Israel being prepared for biological attacks by Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Gulf War. Attacks that injured American GIs. Jonathan’s “spying” is the reason that a “sealed room” must be included in each new home constructed in Israel today.

Is this the way we repay a Jewish-American family that has given us so much?

January 26, 2002

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