Heidelberger, Michael

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Acknowledged as the father of immunochemistry, Dr. Heidelberger is responsible for determining that the materials enveloping the virulent pneumococcal bacterium are carbohydrates. This determination led to greater understanding of one of the mechanisms by which invading bacteria develop in the body and cause disease. He was associated with the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, the New York City Public Health Research Institute, and the New York University School of Medicine. Two time Lasker Award winner (1953; 1978).

From the description of Michael Heidelberger papers, 1911-1967. (National Library of Medicine). WorldCat record id: 14321770

Biographical Sketch: Michael Heidelberger was born April 29, 1888 and died June 25, 1991. He is known as one of the founders of quantitative immunochemistry, and in the course of his career studied, among others, bacterial polysaccharides (particularly pneumococcal), as well as the immunochemistry of proteins, antibodies, antigens and complement. He attended the Ethical Culture high school and Columbia University. He earned his B.S. in 1908, his A.M. in 1909 and his Ph.D. in 1911. After a year of study with Richard Willstatter in Zurich, he returned to the United States and took a position at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research where he worked with Walter Jacobs. During his tenure at the Rockefeller Institute Heidelberger conducted work on the chemotherapy of African sleeping sickness and began his pioneering work on polysaccharides with Dr. Oswald T. Avery. In World War I, Heidelberger served as a 1st Lieutenant in the Sanitary Corps (1918-1919). In 1927, he left the Rockefeller Institute and moved to Mt. Sinai Hospital where he was both chemist to the hospital and a researcher. From 1928 to 1956, he worked for the Columbia University Medical Center was he continued his work as both a researcher and an instructor. In 1955, Heidelberger retired from Columbia and moved to the Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University, where his research and teaching work continued. After nine years, he moved to the New York University School of Medicine, where he remained until his death. Throughout his long and varied career, Heidelberger received fifteen honorary degrees, and 46 medals, citations, or awards. These included the Emil von Behring prize (1954), the National Medal of Science (1967), two Lasker Awards (1953 and 1978), and the Bronze Medal of the city of Paris (1964). He was also made a Fellow of the Royal Society. Twice president of the American Association of Immunologists, Heidelberger played an active role in numerous professional organizations, as well as serving as a referee for publications in immunochemistry and related fields.

From the description of Michael Heidelberger papers, 1901-1990 (bulk 1940-1975). (National Library of Medicine). WorldCat record id: 50034808

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
African trypanosomiasis
Allergy and Immunology
Allergy and Immunology
Pneumococcal Infections
Polysaccharides, Bacterial


Active 1911

Active 1967


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