The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Gerald Weissmann's oral history begins with a discussion of his family and childhood in Vienna, Austria. While still very young, Weissmann and his family fled the Nazi Anschluss. After their journey from Vienna to Italy, Paris, and London, and before finally reaching New York, Weissmann developed a political awareness at a young age. Throughout his youth in New York City, Weissmann's father, also a rheumatologist, exerted a positive influence on Gerald's own career path. Additionally, Weissmann was influenced and mentored by his father's friend and colleague, the famed pathologist, Paul D. Klemperer. After earning a bachelor's degree in fine arts from Columbia College, Weissmann, entered medical school at New York University [NYU], citing his love of science as a primary reason for following such a career path. Following an internship year at Mount Sinai Hospital, Weissmann entered the army and, while stationed at Fort Dix Army Hospital in New Jersey, he published his first scientific paper. Following his time in the army, Weissmann faced a decision between following a purely clinical career in rheumatology, like his father, or an academic one, focused on medicine and rheumatology research. Having opted for the research career, Weissmann continued his residency program at Mount Sinai Hospital and became chief resident at Bellevue Hospital under Lewis Thomas. Concurrent with his residency, Weissmann undertook research at NYU with Severo Ochoa. After becoming an Instructor in Medicine at NYU, Weissmann traveled to the Strangeways Research Laboratory at the University of Cambridge to collaborate with Dame Honor Fell studying the effects of excess Vitamin A on bone rudiment and cartilage. At approximately the same time, Weissmann's research transitioned from studying lysosomes into studying lipids. In the mid-1960s, Weissmann, along with close friend, Alec D. Bangham, discovered liposomes and developed a new field of research. In 1982 Weissmann and E. C. [Jack] Whitehead founded The Liposome Company, which received FDA approval for the drugs Abelcet and Myocet. In this oral history, Weissmann also discusses, in great detail, the origins of the Pew Biomedical Scholars Program. Although he heaped most praise on Joshua Lederberg for the program, Weissmann also described his influence and that of other early Advisory Board members. Contrasting the Pew funding for biomedical scientists with larger funding bodies like the NIH, Weissmann extolled the benefits of funding creative young scientists. In conclusion, Weissmann discusses his own popular scientific writings and larger issues in the history and sociology of science.
|2016||Columbia University||BA||Fine Arts|
|2016||New York University||MD||Medicine|
Mount Sinai Hospital of New York
New York University
New York University School of Medicine
Strangeways Research Laboratory
The Liposome Company
Author of "Citation Classic" (Lysosomes and Joint Disease)
Allesandro Robecchi International Prize for Rheumatology, Aix-lex-Bains
|1973 to 1974||
Author of "Citation Classic" (Cyclic Nucleotides and Neutrophils)
University of Bologna Nine-Hundreth Anniversary Medal (with Lewis Thomas and others)
Gruber Award for Cancer Research (with Emil Frei, III)
Solomon A. Berson Medical Alumni Achievement Award in Clinical Sciences
Bunim Lecturer and Medalist, American Rheumatism Association
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
National Institutes of Health Merit Award
Rockefeller Foundation Residency at Bellagio
Marine Biological Laboratory Centennial Award for Leadership in Biomedical Sciences (with DeWitt Stetten and James Wyngaarden)
Hiram Maxim Award for Scientific Communication
Distinguished Investigator Award, American College of Rheumatology
Charles Plotz Award, Arthritis Foundation of New York
Paul Klemperer Medal, New York Academy of Medicine
Rockefeller Foundation Residency at Bellagio
Paul Klemperer Award & Lecture, American College of Rheumatology
"Research Hero" Award, Arthritis foundation Fiftieth Anniversary
Academia Nazionale die Lincei
Presidential Gold Medal, American College of Rheumatology
Chairman, Prix Galien USA
Table of Contents
Fleeing Vienna, Austria with family after the 1938 Nazi Anschluss. Traveling to the United States via Italy and England. Political awareness at a young age.
Experiences with classical education and balancing interests in the humanities and sciences. Experiences which pushed scientific interests ahead. Influence of Weissmann's father and his fellow rheumatologists. Columbia College. Science in the family.
Medical School at New York University. Ivy League quotas for Jewish Students. Education and training interlude in the Army. Biochemistry work with Severo Ochoa. Chief Residency and lab work at Bellevue Hospital under Lewis Thomas. Research at Cambridge University with Dame Honor Fell.
Professorship at NYU. Research transition to lipids. Collaboration with Alec D. Bangham. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Relationship between medical research, pharmaceutical companies, and advertising.
Co-Founding with E. C. (Jack) Whitehead. Experiences with non-academic drug assembly. Balancing with academic research. The Federal Drug Administration
Importance of the advisory committee in shaping the Scholar program. Influence of Joshua Lederberg. Contrasts with the National Institutes of Health. Balancing PhD scientists with MD scientists. The importance of the Human Genome Project on Pew funding and Pew Scholars.
Concerning Ludwig Fleck and Thomas S. Kuhn. Weissmann's popular scientific writings.
About the Interviewer
Arthur Daemmrich is an assistant professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit at Harvard Business School and a senior research fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. His research examines science, medicine, and the state, with a focus on advancing theories of risk and regulation through empirical research on the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical sectors. At HBS he also plays an active role in an interdisciplinary Healthcare Initiative, advancing scholarship and developing applied lessons for the business of creating and delivering health services and health-related technologies. Daemmrich was previously the director of the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He earned a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University in 2002 and has held fellowships at the Social Science Research Council/Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He has published widely on pharmaceutical and chemical regulation, biotechnology business and policy, innovation, and history of science.