Oral history interview with Ronald C. Breslow

Oral history interview with Ronald C. Breslow

  • 1999-Mar-19 (First session)
  • 1999-Apr-09 (Second session)

Ronald Breslow begins the interview with a discussion of his family life and background. He grew up in Rahway, New Jersey, the son of a physician. Max Tishler, a family friend, helped to pique Breslow's interest in chemistry. In high school, Breslow entered the Westinghouse Science Contest, which enabled him to meet like-minded teenagers. Breslow entered Harvard University, graduating with his A.B. in chemistry in 1952. He discusses chemistry courses taught by Louis Fieser and Paul Bartlett, and his research with Gilbert Stork on the structure of cedrene. Breslow received a master's degree in medical science from Harvard in 1953, and he discusses the uniqueness of the program. He continued his graduate studies with R.B. Woodward, earning his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1955 for his work on magnamycin. He discusses his graduate school colleagues and his post-doc with Alexander Todd.

In 1956 Breslow joined the faculty of Columbia University, where he has worked on a variety of subjects, including thiamine, cyclopropenyl cation, cyclopdextrins, and electon transfer. He discusses his colleagues, his collaborations, and his cancer research. Breslow further addresses changes at Columbia, Columbia's chemistry department, and his involvement in the American Chemical Society. He concludes with a discussion of his consulting activities and reflections on his family and career.

Place of interview
Original file type MP3, PDF
  • 90 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

Ronald Breslow, interviewed by Leon B. Gortler in Columbia University on April 9, 1999. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0181. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/vt150k099.

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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

9 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads