Oral history interview with Marinus Los

  • 1995-Jan-17

The interview begins with Dr. Marinus Los' description of his family's origins in The Netherlands. When he was two years old, his family moved to England, where he received his early education during World War II. Encouraged by his older brother, Los studied chemistry at Edinburgh University, where he first became interested in biochemistry. He conducted his PhD research on heterocyclic analogs of azulene under W. H. Stafford. Stafford encouraged Los to study at the National Research Council in Canada. There, he conducted research in the structural chemistry of alkaloids and plants under Leo E. Marion. In 1960, Los became a research chemist at Lederle Laboratories, now a division of the American Cyanamid Company. Under Milon E. Bullock, he conducted early research on insect control via an insect molting hormone discovered by Dr. Peter Karlson. Los also worked on a synthetic steroid project involving anabolic steroids and artificial insemination for cows. He briefly returned to Edinburgh University's Department of Pharmacology to organize a research program in prostaglandins. On returning to American Cyanamid, led at the time by George J. Sella, Jr. , Los switched to research on herbicides. In his research on plant growth regulators (PGRs), Los's work on imidazolinones led to the herbicides Assert, Arsenal and Pursuit. This work won him the National Medal of Technology. Los ends the interview by discussing his later career as first Senior Group Leader and then Research Director, focusing on his approach to the encouragement of teamwork at American Cyanamid.

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