The Rockefeller University
MottoScientia pro bono humani generis (Latin)
Motto in EnglishScience for the benefit of humanity
Endowment$1.65 billion[1]
PresidentMarc Tessier-Lavigne
LocationUpper East Side, Manhattan, New York City, United States

The Rockefeller University is an American private university located in New York City in the United States, offering postgraduate and postdoctoral education. It conducts research mainly in biological sciences and medical science, and has produced or attracted many Nobel laureates. The Rockefeller University is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, between 63rd and 68th Streets along York Avenue.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne—previously executive vice president of research and chief scientific officer at Genentech—became the university's tenth president on March 16, 2011.

The Rockefeller University Press publishes the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the Journal of Cell Biology, and The Journal of General Physiology.

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The Rockefeller University was founded in June 1901 as The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research—often called simply The Rockefeller Institute—by John D. Rockefeller, who had founded the University of Chicago in 1889, upon advice by his adviser Frederick T. Gates[2] and action taken in March 1901 by his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr.[3] Greatly elevating the prestige of American science and medicine, it was America's first biomedical institute, like France's Pasteur Institute (1888) and Germany's Robert Koch Institute (1891).[2]

(The Rockefeller Foundation, a philanthropic organization, founded in 1913, is a separate entity, but had close connections mediated by prominent figures holding dual positions.[4])

File:Rockefeller University Aerial View 2010.jpg

The first director of laboratories was Simon Flexner, former Johns Hopkins University student of the Institute's first scientific director, William H. Welch, first dean of Hopkins' medical school and known as the dean of American medicine.[3] Flexner retired in 1935 and was succeeded by Herbert Gasser,[5] succeeded in 1953 by Detlev Bronk who broadened The Rockefeller Institute into a university that began awarding the PhD degree in 1954.[3] In 1965 The Rockefeller Institute's name was changed to The Rockefeller University.[3]

For its first six decades the Institute focused on basic research to develop basic science, on applied research as biomedical engineering, and, since 1910—when The Rockefeller Hospital opened on its campus as America's first facility for clinical research—on clinical science.[6] The Rockefeller Hospital's first director, Rufus Cole, retired in 1937 and was succeeded by Thomas Milton Rivers,[7] who as director of The Rockefeller Institute's virology laboratory established virology as an independent field apart from bacteriology.

Research breakthroughsEdit

Rockefeller researchers were the first to culture the infectious agent associated with syphilis,[8] showed that viruses can be oncogenic and enabled the field tumor biology,[9] developed tissue culture techniques,[10] developed the practice of travel vaccination,[11] identified the phenomenon of autoimmune disease,[12] developed virology as an independent field,[13] developed the first antibiotic,[14] obtained the first American isolation of influenzavirus A and first isolation of influenzavirus B,[15] showed that genes are structurally composed of DNA,[16] discovered blood groups, resolved that virus particles are protein crystals,[17] helped develop the field cell biology,[18] resolved antibody structure, developed methadone treatment of heroin addiction, devised the AIDS drug cocktail, and identified the appetite-regulating hormone leptin.[19]

Notable individualsEdit

Notable figures to emerge from the Institution include Alexis Carrel, Peyton Rous, Hideyo Noguchi, Thomas Milton Rivers, Richard Shope, Thomas Francis Jr, Oswald T. Avery, Wendell Meredith Stanley, René Dubos, and Cornelius P. Rhoads. Others attained eminence before being drawn to the university. Joshua Lederberg, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1958, served as president of the university from 1978 to 1990.[20] Paul Nurse, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2001, became President in 2003.[21] (Before Nurse's tenure, Thomas Sakmar was acting-president from 2002.[22]) In all, 24 Nobel Prize recipients have been associated with the University. In the mid-1970s, the University attracted a few prominent academicians in the humanities, such as Saul Kripke.

Urged by Rockefeller Jr, his only son, who was enthusiastic about the Institute, Rockefeller Sr visited but once, and remained otherwise uninterested.[23] Rockefeller Jr's youngest son David would visit with his father.[24] David Rockefeller joined the board of trustees in 1940, was its chairman from 1950 to 1975, chaired the board's executive committee from 1975 to 1995, became honorary chairman and life trustee,[25] and remained philanthropically active.[24]

At a glanceEdit

Fostering an interdisciplinary atmosphere among its 73 laboratories, a faculty member is assigned to one of only six interconnecting research areas.[26]

Research areasEdit

  • biochemistry, structural biology, chemistry
  • molecular cell & developmental biology
  • medical sciences & human genetics
  • immunology, virology, microbiology
  • physics & mathematical biology
  • neuroscience

University communityEdit

  • Over 70 heads of laboratories
  • 190 research and clinical scientists
  • 360 postdoctoral investigators
  • 1,000 support staff
  • 150 Ph.D. students
  • 50 M.D.-Ph.D. students
  • 890 alumni

Nobel Prize winnersEdit

2011 Ralph Steinman (Physiology or Medicine)
2003 Roderick MacKinnon (Chemistry)
2001 Paul Nurse (Physiology or Medicine)
2000 Paul Greengard (Physiology or Medicine)
1999 Günter Blobel (Physiology or Medicine)
1984 R. Bruce Merrifield (Chemistry)
1981 Torsten Wiesel (Physiology or Medicine)
1975 David Baltimore (Physiology or Medicine)
1974 Albert Claude, Christian de Duve, George E. Palade (Physiology or Medicine)
1972 Stanford Moore, William H. Stein (Chemistry)
1972 Gerald M. Edelman (Physiology or Medicine)
1967 H. Keffer Hartline (Physiology or Medicine)
1966 Peyton Rous (Physiology or Medicine)
1958 Joshua Lederberg (Physiology or Medicine)
1958 Edward L. Tatum (Physiology or Medicine)
1953 Fritz Lipmann (Physiology or Medicine)
1946 John H. Northrop (Chemistry)
1946 Wendell M. Stanley (Chemistry)
1944 Herbert S. Gasser (Physiology or Medicine)
1930 Karl Landsteiner (Physiology or Medicine)
1912 Alexis Carrel (Physiology or Medicine)

Prominent alumniEdit


  1. As of June 2012. "FY2012 budget closes with modest deficit". The Rockefeller University.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Chernow R. Titan: The Life of John D Rockefeller Sr (New York: Vintage Books, 2004), pp 471–2.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Swingle AM. "The Rockefeller chronicle". Hopkins Medical News. Fall 2002.
  4. Hannaway C. Biomedicine in the Twentieth Century: Practices, Policies, and Politics (Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2008), p 230, note 46.
  5. "Herbert S Gasser—biography". 6 Sep 2011 (Web-access date).
  6. "The Rockefeller University Hospital". 18 Feb 2011 (Web-access date).
  7. "At Rockefeller Hospital". Time. 24 May 1937.
  8. Yoshida H (2009). "Seroimmunological studies by Dr Hideyo Noguchi: Introduction and illustration of his seroimmunological research, with a connection to recent seroimmunology". Rinsho Byori. 2009 Dec;57(12):1200–8 57 (12): 1200–8. PMID 20077823.
  9. Van Epps HL (2005). "Peyton Rous: Father of the tumor virus". J Exp Med. 201 (3): 320. doi:10.1084/jem.2013fta. PMC 2213042. PMID 15756727. //
  10. Fischer A (1922). "Cultures of organized tissues". J Exp Med. 36 (4): 393–7. doi:10.1084/jem.36.4.393. PMC 2128315. PMID 19868681. //
  11. Frierson JG (2010). "The yellow fever vaccine: A history"—section "First vaccine attempts". Yale J Biol Med. 2010 Jun;83(2):77–85 83 (2): 77–85. PMC 2892770. PMID 20589188. //
  12. Van Epps, H. L. (2005). "Thomas Rivers and the EAE model". J Exp Med. 202: 4. doi:10.1084/jem.2021fta.
  13. "Rivers, Thomas Milton (1888-1962)". American Decades. 2001. 18 Feb 2011 (Web-access date).
  14. Zimmerman BE, Zimmerman DJ. Killer Germs (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003), p 35.
  15. "Thomas Francis Jr". Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 Feb 2011 (Web-access date).
  16. McCarty, Maclyn (2003). "Discovering genes are made of DNA". Nature. 421 (6921): 406. doi:10.1038/nature01398. PMID 12540908.
  17. "Wendell Meredith Stanley". Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 Feb 2011 (Web-access date).
  18. Simon SM (1999). "An award for cell biology". J Cell Biol. 147 (5): 2 p following table of contents. doi:10.1083/jcb.147.5.1-a. PMC 2169337. PMID 10627187. //
  19. "Jeffrey Friedman, discoverer of leptin, receives Gairdner, Passano awards". Medical News Today. 14 Apr 2005.
  20. "Joshua Lederberg—biography". 18 Feb 2011 (Web-access date).
  21. "Paul Nurse to resign as Rockefeller president to become president of Royal Society of London in December". Newswire. The Rockefeller University. 23 Apr 2010.
  22. Nybo, Kristie (2010). "Profile of Thomas Sakmar". BioTechniques 49: 779. doi:10.2144/000113534.
  23. Chernow, Titan, 2004, p 475.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Arenson KW, "Turning 90, a Rockefeller gives the presents", New York Times, 9 Jun 2005.
  25. Rockefeller University, "David Rockefeller honored with named professorship: Barry Coller will be first David Rockefeller Professor", News & Notes, 2000 Dec 15;12(12).
  26. "Research areas". 18 Feb 2011 (Web-access date).


  • Hanson, Elizabeth. The Rockefeller University Achievements: A Century of Science for the Benefit of Humankind, 1901-2001 (New York: The Rockefeller University Press, 2000).

External linksEdit

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