New White House Physician Seeks an Activist Role

From United Press International

President Bush on Monday announced the appointment of Dr. Burton Lee III as the White House physician.

Lee’s chief responsibility will be the health of the First Family and the White House staff.

A native of New York City, Lee, 58, has been a physician at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center since 1960.

In a recent interview, Lee said he hoped to adopt a higher profile than his predecessors and advise Bush on policy matters ranging from AIDS to health care financing.

“Since it hasn’t been done this way before, I can’t predict what shape it will take or what success I’ll have,” Lee told United Press International. “No one wants to see their toes stepped on and I don’t want to step on any.”


Lee said he hopes to expand a job that traditionally is thrust into the limelight only during times of presidential injury or infirmity.

At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Lee specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of lymphomas. Since 1981, he has treated patients with the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

Lee is a longtime friend of Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas F. Brady. When asked about becoming White House physician, Lee said he saw the opportunity to advise Bush from a position of almost unrivaled access.

Lee, who served on the AIDS advisory commission established by President Ronald Reagan, said he hopes to put to rest complaints that AIDS has not been accorded a high enough priority in the White House.