Oral history interview with Leo H. Sternbach

Oral history interview with Leo H. Sternbach

  • 1986-Mar-12

Leo H. Sternbach begins the interview with a discussion of his family and childhood in Austria and Poland. He describes his early education during the First World War as well as his experiences working in his father's pharmacy. After receiving his degree in pharmacy from Jagiellonian University in Cracow, he enrolled in a Ph.D. program in organic chemistry. As a result of intensifying anti-Semitism, he left Poland and went to Vienna, where he worked with Pauli and Fränkel, and then to Zürich to work with Ruzicka at the Swiss Federal Institute. After beginning work with Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel and marrying Herta Kreuzer, increasing pressure to leave Switzerland compelled him to emigrate to the United States, where he continued work with the company in Nutley, New Jersey and began a search for new tranquilizers. Sternbach recalls that he was instructed to terminate his study of benzodiazepines but continued the research unofficially, which led to his significant discoveries of Librium, Valium, and other related drugs. He concludes his interview with a brief summary of his accomplishments and his views on the present state of pharmaceutical research.

Place of interview
Original file type MP3, PDF
  • 49 pages
Rights In Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Related URL
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

Physical location


Cite as

Sternbach, L. H. (Leo H.), interviewed by Tonja A. Koeppel in Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. on March 12, 1986. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0043. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/v405sb56q.

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Transcript (Published Version)

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.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

4 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads