"When I came to Columbia, I was told that 'maturity is just around the corner.'"
A. Arthur Gottlieb, physician, scientist, and teacher was chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and professor of Medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine, posts he had held for 23 years from 1975 until his death in 1998. His research over his last twenty years was directed to the discovery of substances which support and control the human immune system. These substances also demonstrated the link between the neuroendocrine system and the immune system, which had been elusive. His research led to the discovery and testing of novel investigational therapies for diseases which affected or which were affected by the human immune system, including HIV, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. His earlier research, then considered revolutionary, demonstrated the role of the macrophage in processing antigen to initiate the immune process. Other work included developing sensitive tests for malignancies based on DNA detection.
Dr. Gottlieb was born on December 14, 1937, in Haifa, Palestine, now Israel, to an American mother and British father. His father was then deputy minister of agriculture under the British Mandate. His mother, a nurse, returned home to New York with him when he was 13 months old.
Dr. Gottlieb attended the Bronx High School of Science in New York, where he met his wife-to-be, with the class of 1954, until he entered Columbia College in 1953 under the Ford Foundation's early admission scholarship program, and graduated with the class of 1957. At Columbia, he was coxswain of the junior varsity lightweight crew and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year. He graduated with highest honors (summa cum laude) and distinction in chemistry. He was recruited by Dr. Lewis Thomas to New York University School of Medicine under the Merit Scholarship Program for medical students interested in careers in medical research. He was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha in his junior year and graduated in 1961 with the highest class standing. He did his medical internship and junior residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He was a clinical associate at the Laboratory of Biochemistry at the National Heart Institute of the NIH while serving in the U.S. Public Health Service, 1963–65. In 1965 he returned to Harvard as a fellow in the Department of Chemistry in Cambridge and was invited to return to the Department of Medicine of Harvard Medical School in Boston as a member of the faculty in 1968, being promoted to the rank of assistant professor. In 1969, he accepted a tenured position at the Institute of Microbiology (the Waksman Institute), Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey. He was promoted to professor in 1972. He accepted his position at Tulane in 1975. He was elected to Sigma Xi in 1972.
Dr. Gottlieb was truly ahead of his time. He was recognized for his scientific contributions nationally and internationally. His work is in the interest of his fellow man, and is being completed, in the interest of society, by his colleagues. He authored over a hundred scientific papers. He was elected to memberships in the American Society for Clinical Investigation and was a fellow of the American College of Physicians, and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a traveling fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. Other memberships include the American Association of Cancer Research, American Association of Immunologists, American Society of Biological Chemists, American Society for Cell Biology, American Society for Microbiology, and Reticuloendothelial Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. He served on scientific editorial boards and as a consultant to the NIH and the FDA.
Dr. Gottlieb was the recipient of many awards, including the Dean Hawkes Award; at Columbia the Alpha Omega Alpha first prize for highest academic standing over his four year course of medical study; a National Institute of General Medical Sciences Research Career Development Award; and the Frances Stone Burns Award from the American Cancer Society. Dr. Gottlieb was awarded 15 U.S. Patents and 29 foreign patents.
He told his Bronx Science classmate, Marise Suss, to go to Barnard College (class of 1958). They were married in 1958 and have two daughters (1963, 1965).
He was truly ahead of his time in that his discoveries are finally being understood, and the scientific field is catching up to him. As the practical aspects of his work are brought into the public domain, his contributions will be truly known.
Contributed by Marise Gottlieb, Barnard College 1958, who is solely responsible for the content.