Oral history interview with Gerald Weissmann

Oral history interview with Gerald Weissmann

  • 2007-Aug-02
Photograph of Gerald Weissman

Gerald Weissmann was born in Austria, but when young, he and his family fled the Nazis, eventually ending up in New York City. After earning a bachelor's degree in fine arts from Columbia College, Weissmann, entered medical school at New York University. Having opted for a research career, he completed his residency at Mount Sinai Hospital and became chief resident at Bellevue Hospital. In the mid-1960s, Weissmann, along with close friend, Alec D. Bangham, discovered liposomes, and in 1982 founded The Liposome Company, which received FDA approval for the drugs Abelcet and Myocet. In speaking about the origins of the Pew Biomedical Scholars Program, Weissmann contrasts the Pew funding with larger funding bodies like the NIH, Weissmann, extolling the benefits of funding creative young scientists.

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Place of interview
Original file type PDF, MP3, JPEG
  • 58 pages
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

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.

Physical location


Interviewee biographical information

  • August 07, 1930
  • Vienna, Austria
  • July 10, 2019


Year Institution Degree Discipline
2016 Columbia University BA Fine Arts
2016 New York University MD Medicine

Professional Experience

Mount Sinai Hospital (New York, N.Y.)

  • 1954 to 1955 Intern
  • 1957 to 1958 Assistant Resident in Medicine

New York University

  • 1958 to 1959 Fellow, Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation, Departments of Biochemistry and Medicine (Mentor: Severo Ochoa)
  • 1959 to 1960 Research Assistant, Department of Medicine

Bellevue Hospital

  • 1959 to 1960 Chief Resident in Medicine

New York University. School of Medicine

  • 1959 to 1961 Instructor in Medicine
  • 1962 to 1965 Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • 1966 to 1970 Associate Professor of Medicine
  • 1970 Professor of Medicine
  • 1970 to 1973 Director, Division of Cell Biology
  • 1973 to 2000 Director, Division of Rheumatology
  • 2000 Director of Biotechnology Study Center
  • 2003 Research Professor of Medicine
  • 2003 Professor of Medicine Emeritus

Strangeways Research Laboratory (Cambridge, England)

  • 1960 to 1961 USPHS Special Research Fellow, Department of Biophysics

Pfizer Inc.

  • 1972 Consultant, Inflammation and Arthritis

Ethicon Company

  • 1973 to 1976 Scientific Advisory Board


  • 1982 to 1986 Scientific Advisory Board

The Liposome Company

  • 1982 to 2000 Director, Co-Founder (with E. C. Whitehead) and Chair, Scientific Advisory Board


Year(s) Award
1966 Author of "Citation Classic" (Lysosomes and Joint Disease)
1972 Allesandro Robecchi International Prize for Rheumatology, Aix-lex-Bains
1973 to 1974 Guggenheim Fellow
1974 Author of "Citation Classic" (Cyclic Nucleotides and Neutrophils)
1978 University of Bologna Nine-Hundreth Anniversary Medal (with Lewis Thomas and others)
1980 Gruber Award for Cancer Research (with Emil Frei, III)
1980 Solomon A. Berson Medical Alumni Achievement Award in Clinical Sciences
1981 Bunim Lecturer and Medalist, American Rheumatism Association
1982 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1987 National Institutes of Health Merit Award
1987 Rockefeller Foundation Residency at Bellagio
1988 Marine Biological Laboratory Centennial Award for Leadership in Biomedical Sciences (with DeWitt Stetten and James Wyngaarden)
1990 Hiram Maxim Award for Scientific Communication
1992 Distinguished Investigator Award, American College of Rheumatology
1993 Charles Plotz Award, Arthritis Foundation of New York
1997 Paul Klemperer Medal, New York Academy of Medicine
1998 Rockefeller Foundation Residency at Bellagio
2001 Paul Klemperer Award & Lecture, American College of Rheumatology
2001 "Research Hero" Award, Arthritis foundation Fiftieth Anniversary
2002 Academia Nazionale die Lincei
2005 Presidential Gold Medal, American College of Rheumatology
2007 Chairman, Prix Galien USA

Cite as

Gerald Weissmann, interviewed by Arthur Daemmrich in Woods Hole, Massachusetts on August 2, 2007. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0371. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/1z40kt98n.

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The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Audio File Web-quality download

1 Interview Segment Archival-quality download