Browse Oral Histories Alphabetically

Herbert Tabor begins with a discussion of his family and childhood. He grew up during the Depression in Manhattan, New York, and attended local public schools before becoming a student at City College in 1933;after two years, he transferred to Harvard University, where he graduated with an AB in biochemical science in 1937 and his MD in 1941. Tabor began an internship at New Haven Hospital, then entered the Public Health Service of the National Institutes of Health and worked closely with Dr. Sanford M. Rosenthal. Tabor and Dr. Rosenthal studied electrolyte changes in burns and shock and determined how to treat burn and shock victims using saline instead of plasma. In 1961, Tabor joined the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Later, he advanced to Associate Editor before becoming Editor in Chief in 1971, a position he still holds today. Tabor developed the Minireview Compendium, which is a yearly compilation of all short reviews published in the JBC for a particular year. Tabor discusses the importance of computer technology in advancing the usage and availability of the JBC in today’s world.  Tabor concludes the interview with a discussion on the future of the JBC and electronic journal availability.

Esther Takeuchi grew up in Akron, Ohio. She majored in history and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was often the lone woman in her classes. Takeuchi completed her PhD in Harold Shechter’s lab at the Ohio State University. Takeuchi chose industry over academia, taking a job at Union Carbide Corporation, working on catalysis. She did postdoctoral work at the University of North Carolina. Takeuchi accepted a position as senior chemist at Greatbatch, Inc., rediscovering the use of silver vanadium oxide in oil-drilling batteries and adapted the chemistry for an implantable cardiac defibrillator. During her twenty-three years at Greatbatch, Takeuchi rose up in management positions, culminating in Chief Scientist at the Center for Excellence. As the Greatbatch Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at SUNY Buffalo, Takeuchi was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Takeuchi is currently the Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering in a joint appointment with Brookhaven National Laboratory and SUNY Stonybrook.

William S. Talbot grew up in Gainesville, Florida. Although he did not appreciate it at the time, growing up in a university town provided him with access to several influential teachers. For example, a science project brought him into the lab of Edward Wakeland to work on the nature and extent of variation in wild mouse populations. Talbot continued working with Wakeland as an undergraduate at University of Florida, Gainesville. He moved to graduate studies at Stanford University, working with David S. Hogness on the hormonal control of metamorphosis in Drosophila. After a postdoc, he accepted a position at the Skirball Institute, where he researched the genes involved in tissue development of zebrafish. Talbot returned to Stanford, where he works in vertebrate developmental biology. At the end of the interview, Talbot discusses patents; his reasons for becoming a principal investigator; collaboration and competition in science; setting the national scientific agenda; the privatization of scientific research; and his transition to studying myelin formation.

Song Tan was born in London, England, and lived in Singapore and the US during his childhood. He remembers always being interested in science, especially the chemical elements. He was in an honors program in a high school that allowed students to work in university labs around Miami. He worked in Richard Doepker's lab at the University of Miami, where he analyzed the products of burning plastic. Tan took fourth place in the Westinghouse Talent Search; he used his scholarship at Cornell University, which had the added attraction of a synchrotron. He majored in physics, but with a concentration in biochemistry. At the University of Cambridge, he worked with Trevor Lamb and Timothy Richmond. Tan moved with Richmond to Zürich, Switzerland. Upon finishing his work with Richmond, Tan accepted an assistant professorship at Penn State University. 

Morris Tanenbaum grew up in Huntington, West Virginia. He attended Johns Hopkins University; one of his professors, Clark Bricker, who was leaving for Princeton University, convinced Tanenbaum to accept a research assistantship there and to obtain a PhD. Tanenbaum worked on spectroscopy in Bricker's lab and the mechanical properties of metal single crystals in Walter Kauzmann's lab. After being awarded his PhD, Tanenbaum went to work at Bell Laboratories where he did the original studies of single crystal III-V semiconductors. With the assistance of Ernest Buehler, he made the world's first silicon transistor. Working with Calvin Fuller, Tanenbaum invented the diffused base silicon transistor using solid-state diffusion. Western Electric recruited Tanenbaum to lead its new Engineering Research Center. He later became Vice President of Engineering for all of Western Electric and then Vice President for Transmission Equipment. Tanenbaum was called back to Bell Labs as Executive Vice President with responsibility for all of development. Then he moved to AT&T Corporate Offices as Senior Vice President of Engineering and Network Services. He later served as President of New Jersey Bell. In 1980, he was called back to AT&T as Executive Vice President for Administration. During that period, he was much involved in the Federal antitrust case against AT&T that was eventually settled by a Consent Degree that separated AT&T into several independent companies (the "Baby Bells") providing local telephone service  and AT&T retaining Western Electric, most of Bell Labs, and the long distance services. His final position was CFO and Vice Chairman of the AT&T Board of Directors.

Rudolph E. Tanzi was born near Providence, Rhode Island. His parents wanted him to be a doctor. In spite of his preference for music, he studied microbiology at the University of Rochester. After college he became a technician for James Gusella at Massachusetts General Hospital, helping to identify the Huntington’s chorea gene.  Tired of genetics, he next applied to Harvard to study neuroscience.  Work on the chromosome implicated in Down syndrome led him to investigate Alzheimer’s disease.  He cloned and characterized the amyloid protein precursor gene.  He has progressed from assistant professor at Harvard to full professor and is the director of the genetics and aging unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.  He continues to study the role of alpha-2 macroglobulin (A2M) in Alzheimer’s disease.

This brief, informal interview begins with Taube describing his early career at Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley, and his decision to accept a position at the University of Chicago, where In 1956 he became chairman of the chemistry department. Taube then discusses his relationship with Warren Johnson, the dean of the physical sciences, who he felt helped the department survive in terms of balancing the budget and finding financial support.  Taube then reflects on the history of the chemistry department and the various members of the faculty who ran the department in its early years. Next, Taube discusses his means of funding his research during his early years at the University of Chicago and his work with mass spectrometry.  While at the University of Chicago, Taube worked with Frank H. Westheimer amd Willard H. Libby. Taube concludes his interview by discussing the ways in which his career as an instructor at Cornell and the research he was involved with negatively affected his first marriage and how he learned later to delegate authority and find balance between his professional and personal life.

Henri Termeer begins his interview by discussing his parents’ histories, the influence of family, and his entrance into the business world. While writing his master’s thesis, he acquired his first job in systems engineering. Termeer describes his move into the medical and healthcare product business, holding various management positions at Baxter Travenol Laboratories Inc. (now Baxter International). While working for Baxter, Termeer was able to gain the experience necessary to head Genzyme in 1983, a then two-year old start-up biotechnology company, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Under his leadership, Genzyme pioneered treatments for patients with rare genetic diseases. He recounts Genzyme’s experience with Gaucher disease and the developments of Ceredase® and then Cerezyme® and the lessons learned, and how Genzyme developed and distributed other innovative treatments to their patients. Under his leadership, Genzyme became a global biotech business, diversifying, through acquisitions across areas including LSDs, orthopedics, cancer, transplant and immune diseases, and diagnostic testing.

The oral history begins with Harold E. Thayer recalling growing up in Rochester, New York, during the  Depression, and his decision to attend MIT, where he pursued a course combining chemical engineering and business administration. He describes working at American Cyanamid  and Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, where he was involved in the War Production Board and  the Manhattan District's uranium processing. The interview focuses on Thayer's long-standing outspokenness in management. 

For more information on John Thomas, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences

For more information on this oral history, please contact the Director of the Center for Oral History. 

Marion C. Thurnauer attended the University of Chicago for her undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry, working with Gerhard Closs, her doctoral thesis advisor. She completed the final experiments for her thesis at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) because the required electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrometer at the University of Chicago was severely damaged by a chemical explosion that occurred in the University's chemistry building. She secured a postdoctoral position in the ANL Chemistry Division (CHM) with James R. Norris and Joseph J. Katz, studying photochemical energy conversion in natural photosynthesis. She was promoted to Assistant Chemist, a staff position, and was, for a few years, the only female staff scientist in CHM and rose to become the first woman CHM Director. Along the way she established "Science Careers in Search of Women," which ultimately led to the formulation and launching of the ANL Women in Science and Technology (WIST) program. In addition to her administrative work, Thurnauer was able to continue to be involved with science mainly because her co-workers kept her informed and up to date on their results. Thurnauer discusses the general state of women in science, but particularly at ANL. She stresses the importance of mentoring, reinforcing, and building networks for women; she talks about having her husband in her division; she explains e-mentoring and recommends it; and she names and describes the work of some of the women who have served as her role models.

Max Tishler describes his family, early schooling, undergraduate education at Tufts, graduate and postgraduate work at Harvard, and the state of chemistry in the 1930s. The major portion of the interview contains Tishler's impressions of the research and development undertaken by Merck & Co. in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, and of his role in that activity. Tishler ends the interview by discussing his current activities at Wesleyan and presenting his views about the future direction of chemistry. 

Charles Tobias begins with a description of his family in Hungary and education at the University of Technical Sciences in Budapest; he compares the US and Hungarian educational systems. Tobias explains his wartime experiences in Hungary and the struggle to reach the US. He spends a large portion of the interview discussing the Electrochemical Society. 

Jacques Tocatlian was born in Egypt, where he attended a French secondary school and then studied industrial chemistry. After work in the plastics division at Monsanto, Tocatlian accepted a position at the Food and Machinery Corporation as a literature chemist, and worked on the first Selective Dissemination of Information [SDI] experiment. Tocatlian pursued a master's in information and library science. Throughout the interview, Tocatlian discusses the international standardization issues of UNESCO and the organization of UNISIST. 

Claudio Todeschini received his first degree in civil engineering from the University of Capetown, South Africa and later went to the United States and became a PhD research assistant at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Todeschini accepted a professorship at the University of Maryland in 1966, and a year later, he became a part-time researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the US Department of Commerce, working on information systems, retrieval, and terminological relationships. He joined the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

Margaret E. M. Tolbert was born in Suffolk, Virginia at a time when rural Virginia was still very segregated. Her high school had limited resources, but she found excellent mentors and graduated class valedictorian. She attended Tuskegee University for her undergraduate degree, majoring in chemistry. She completed her master's degree in chemistry at Wayne State University and her PhD in Biochemistry at Brown University. After completing her doctorate, Tolbert returned to Tuskegee as a faculty member, but soon took guest research and management positions at the University of Texas, Florida A&M University, and Brown University; she also completed a postdoctorate in Brussels, Belgium. In 1979, she became the first woman director of the Carver Research Foundation at Tuskegee University. After almost a decade at the Carver Research Foundation, she went to Standard Oil of Ohio on sabbatical. From that point onward, she transitioned permanently to science management positions, working for BP America, the National Science Foundation, Argonne National Laboratory, and the New Brunswick Laboratory. 

Haldor Topsøe begins his oral history discussing of his early life in Denmark, and his involvement in his father's Samfundshjælpen, which taught him the importance of collaboration between social classes. As a chemical engineer, and later, a businessman, Topsøe gained an interest in the relationship between economics and science, particularly catalysis. Topsøe further discusses the transfer of technology to India and the Third World, and the impact of the Green Revolution on chemical industries. 

Toshio Tsukiyama was born in Chiba, Japan. Influenced by his sister, he attended veterinary school in Hokkaido and became interested in research. There, Toshio read an article by Ohtsura Niwa and he decided he wanted to study with him at Hiroshima University. Niwa had obtained his PhD from Stanford University and was familiar with American courses of study; he made Toshio read and present books and articles, something the Japanese did not do, and convinced Toshio to come to the United States. At the Whitehead Center for Biomedical Research, Toshio worked on chromatin remodeling in Carl Wu's lab. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center then hired him as an associate member, where he continues research on the regulation of chromatin structure and its effect on cellular processes. 

Howard S. Turner discusses his early interests in chemistry before receiving his undergraduate degree in chemistry from  Swarthmore College. Turner earned his PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1936 and before starting his career with E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company working in the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware, where he researched polymer 66, nylon, and Corfam. In 1947, after eleven years with DuPont, Turner left the company and in 1965, Turner left J&L to become president of Turner Construction Company, in New York. The company, started in 1902 by his uncle, was among the top construction firms in the country. 

Audio files for this interview are not available.