Bernard N. Fields
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Bernard Fields begins the interview with a discussion of his early years, growing up in Brooklyn, New York. Fields was encouraged by his parents to excel in scholastic endeavors. After graduating high school at the age of sixteen, Fields enrolled at Brandeis University. After a mediocre start, he finished college at the top of his class, receiving an A.B. in biology in 1958. Fields loved biology and wanted to become an MD He attended New York University School of Medicine, earning his MD in 1962. While at NYU, Fields first became interested in neuroscience and how diseases affect the central nervous system. He then received an internship with Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, where he became involved in infectious diseases. After completing his doctoral training, Fields took a fellowship in infectious diseases with Mort Swartz at Massachusetts General Hospital. Infectious diseases fascinated Fields and he began to move toward a career in microbiology and virology. In 1967, after two years of military service in Atlanta, Georgia, with the Centers for Disease Control, Fields moved back to New York with his new wife and three stepchildren, accepting a research fellowship with Wolfgang K. Joklik at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. While at Einstein, Fields began research on Reovirus, which would become one of his life-long research projects. His research focused on the genetics of Reovirus and how the virus interacted with animal cells. In 1969, Fields became Associate Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology at Einstein, and held that position until 1975, when he joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School as Head of Infectious Diseases. With his research fellows, Fields studied different strains of Reovirus and how they mutated to cause different diseases. Fields became Chairman of the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department at Harvard in 1982, ending his extensive research in infectious diseases just as AIDS hit the world scene. Fields concludes the interview with a discussion of the future of biological research, developing working relationships with students, and his personal battle with pancreatic cancer.
|1962||New York University School of Medicine||MD|
National Communicable Disease Center
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Journal of Infectious Diseases
Washington University in St. Louis
Founders' Day Award, New York University School of Medicine
|1974 to 1979||
Irma T. Hirschl Scholar Award
12th Annual Redway Medal (with Cedric Raine)
|1974 to 1975||
Career Scientist, Health Research Council of New York
Solomon A. Berson Alumni Achievement Award, New York University School of Medicine
Wellcome Lecturer, American Society of Microbiology
Lippard Lecturer, Columbia University
Thayer Lecturer, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Dyer Lecturer, National Institutes of Health
|1987 to 1995||
Merit Award, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Niels Dungal Memorial Lecturer, University of Iceland, Reykjavik
Dudley Wright Lecturer, Arolla, Switzerland
Alumni Achievement Award, Brandeis University
Table of Contents
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York. Parents. Developing an interest in biology. Acceptance into Brandeis University. Influential teachers at Brandeis. Decision to go further education in medicine.
Attending New York University. Developing an interest in nervous system diseases. University's focus on research. Aiming toward a career in clinical medicine. Internship and residency at Beth Israel Hospital. Fellowship with Mort Swartz at Massachusetts General Hospital. Growing interest in infectious diseases.
Military Services at Centers for Disease Control. Field work. Marriage to Ruth Peedin. Research fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Wolfgang K. Joklik. First studies on Reovirus. Viral genetics research. Learning molecular biology. Infectious disease unit.
Working with students. Virus mutants. Becoming faculty member at Einstein. Joining Harvard faculty in 1975. Working on Friend leukemia and measles. RNA and protein research. Genetic mapping. Type 3 Reovirus. Biology of Reovirus.
Becoming Head of Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Leaving infectious disease research. Onslaught of AIDS. Research methods. Training young scientists. Future of research. Task Force of Microbiology.
Researching virus behavior. Cultivating students. Reflections on being Chairman of Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. M cells. Living with pancreatic cancer.
About the Interviewer
Sondra Schlesinger is professor of molecular microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine. She received her PhD in biological chemistry from the University of Michigan and spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Boris Magasanik at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she worked on enzyme induction and regulation in bacteria. She joined the faculty at Washington University in 1964, where initially she continued her research in the field of microbial genetics and physiology. In the early 1970s, she began her research work on the structure and replication of animal RNA viruses, which continues to this day. Dr. Schlesinger has over one hundred publications spanning these areas of microbiology. She was president of the American Society for Virology in 1992–1993, at which time she began her present interest and work in the history of virology.