The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
This interview discusses Max Tishler's life and career. Tishler reminisces about his family, early schooling, undergraduate education at Tufts, and graduate and postgraduate work at Harvard. He then talks about his colleagues 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. He also describes individuals involved in that work and the major contributions that Merck & Co. made to combat disease. Tishler ends the interview by discussing his current activities at Wesleyan and presenting his views about the future direction of chemistry.
|1934||Harvard University||PhD||Organic Chemistry|
Merck & Company Inc.
Elected to National Academy of Sciences
Medal of the Industrial Research Institute
Rennebohm Lecture Award, School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin
Chemical Industry Award, Society of the Chemical Industry
Lecture Award, Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences
Julius W. Sturmer Memorial Lecture Award, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy
Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Chemical Pioneer Award and Gold Medal Award, American Institute of Chemistry
Joseph Priestley Medal, American Chemical Society
Honorary Member, Societe Chimique de France
Fellow, Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Table of Contents
Max Tishler's children, parents, and siblings. His difficult early years. A job in the pharmacy. Other odd jobs. High school.
Rationale for attending Tufts. Paying for the education. Prof. C. H. E. Allen recommends Harvard. Textbooks used at Tufts. Successful classmates.
A meeting with Prof. Kohler. Other graduate students. More recollections about Kohler. A poor job market.
James Conant. George Kistiakowsky. A study of hydrogenation. A fire in the lab. Arthur Becket Lamb. Structure determination in the l920s.
The efficacy of advanced laboratory equipment. Thomas (Jeff) Webb, Homer Adkins, and Louis Fieser. Kohler's research interests. The allene problem. Conant's presidency. Donald Cram, Melvin Newman, Emma Dietz, Mary Fieser, and Robert Woodward. Consulting. More about Kohler's research.
How Randolph Major was hired. George Merck, Jr. 's, emphasis upon research. Merck & Co.'s early work with vitamins. How Merck personnel approached research problems. A comparison of Harvard's and Merck's laboratories. The farsightedness of Randolph Major. Karl Folkers. The central role of the Merck labs in the synthesis of vitamins. The synthesis of riboflavin. The role of development and of pilot plants. Vitamin K. W. L. Sampson, Kurt Ladenburg, and Karl Pfister. Aldomet. Movement from laboratory work to directing developmental research. Wartime work at Merck. Effective administration. Recruitment of chemists for Merck.
Emphasis upon publication. An evaluation of Per Frolich's impact upon Merck's research and development. The formation of Merck Sharp and Dohme, a beneficial union. Merck's encouragement of its chemists to pursue graduate education. Tishler's responsibilities. Promotion to director of all research and development. Robert Denkewalter and Ralph Mozingo. Merck's penicillin project. Congressional scrutiny of the pharmaceutical industry's wartime record. Vannevar Bush. Decision-making at Merck. A philosophy of administration. Impending retirement from Merck.
Cortisone, streptomycin, penicillin, actinomycin, and penicillamine. Work with the American Chemical Society. Affiliation with the Society of Chemical Industry. Organic Syntheses. Awards.
Teaching at Wesleyan. Publication of papers. Views on the future direction of chemistry. Problems and opportunities. The contributions of Selman Waksman. More awards. Gardening. Student advising.
About the Interviewer
Leon Gortler is a professor of chemistry at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He holds AB and MS degrees from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Harvard University where he worked with Paul Bartlett. He has long been interested in the history of chemistry, in particular the development of physical organic chemistry, and has conducted over fifty oral and videotaped interviews with major American chemists.
John A. Heitmann holds a BS degree in chemistry from Davidson College and an MA degree in history from Clemson University. From 1971 to 1977, he worked as a chemist in the metallurgical industry. He then studied at the Johns Hopkins University under Owen Hannaway and received his doctorate in the history of science in 1983.