Harland G. Wood
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Harland G. Wood begins the interview with a brief discussion of his role in the restructuring of Western Reserve University's medical curriculum. He then reflects on his childhood and education, recalling that his former Latin teacher (then, his high school principal) first sparked his interest in chemistry. He chronicles his career in chemistry and molecular biology from his college years at Macalester through his extensive laboratory research at Iowa State College, where he first developed his concept of the fixation of carbon dioxide by bacteria; the University of Minnesota, where he continued this research; various other temporary positions; and finally, his current work at Case Western Reserve University. Throughout the interview, in addition to discussing research and the influence of various colleagues and associates, he often focuses on the numerous advancements that have occurred during his lifetime and their impact (both positive and negative) on the way laboratory research is conducted. He concludes with his thoughts on the future of science, stressing the importance of continued enthusiasm and motivation in scientists of all ages.
|1935||Iowa State College||PhD||Bacterial Physiology|
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Iowa State College
University of Minnesota
Case Western Reserve University
Eli Lilly Award in Bacteriology
ScD, Macalester College
Carl Neuberg Award
Senior Fulbright Research Scholarship, University Duneden (New Zealand)
Commonowealth Fellowship to Max Planck Institute für Zellchemie (Germany)
Modern Medicine Award for Distinguished Achievement
National Institutes of Health Senior Research Fellowship, University of Georgia
Lynen Lecturer and Medal
ScD, Northwestern University
Senior Scholar, Fulbright Hays Program (Australia)
Senior US Scientist, Humboldt Award
Alumni Citation of Distinguished Citizen, Macalester College
ScD, University of Cincinnati
Lynen Memorial Lecture, 13th International Congress of Biochemistry
Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology, National Academy of Sciences
Rosenstiel Medical Research Award
Michelson-Morley Achievement Award
Wellcome Visiting Professor in the Basic Medical Sciences Award, St. Louis University
The Distinguished Achievement Citation, Iowa State University
President's National Medal of Science
William C. Rose Award in Biochemistry and Nutrition
Table of Contents
Reorganization of curriculum on an organ system basis. Fights to get changes through.
Growing up in rural Minnesota. Athletics stressed by family. Grade school and high school. Hopes to go to medical school. Family background.
Effects of the Great Depression. Rooming with brother. Marries wife, Millie. Strong influence of biologyprofessor O. T. Walters. Decides to pursue Ph.D. in chemistry because he cannot afford medical school.
Begins work on bacteria metabolism with Chester H. Werkman. Shows C. B. van Niel to be wrong. Virtually runs laboratory on his own. First discovers fixation of carbon dioxide. Begins to work with Alfred O. Nier. Negative influence of Werkman.
Initial dissatisfaction with administration. Chairman of Biochemistry Department. Enjoys continuing laboratory work.
Spends one year postdoc working with Edward L. Tatum and William H. Peterson on vitamins and metabolism. Returns to work at Iowa State because jobs difficult to find.
Construction of mass spectrometer and thermal diffusion column. Works with Lester Krampitz and Mert Utter. Mistake prevents being first to show carbon dioxide use by animals. Nier continues to assist greatly.
Measures glycolysis in rats' brains. Becomes acquainted with prominent biochemists.
Reorganization of Biochemistry Department. New curriculum and administrative procedures. Discussion of current demographics.
Journal of Biological Chemistry (generates controversy while on editorial board). General Secretary, then President of International Union of Biochemistry. President's Scientific Advisory Committee. Sabbatical in New Zealand.
Impact of high technology. Hope for a chemical explanation of depression. Genetic engineering. Necessity of motivation.
About the Interviewer
James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Bohning passed away in September 2011.