Gerald Weissmann

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Gerald Weissmann
Gerald Weissmann.jpg
Gerald Weissmann
Born(1930-08-07)August 7, 1930
DiedJuly 10, 2019(2019-07-10) (aged 88)
Alma materColumbia University
New York University School of Medicine
Known forComplement system
Rheumatoid arthritis
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Spouse(s)Ann (Raphael) Weissmann (2 children)
AwardsRoyal Society of Medicine
American College of Rheumatology
New York Academy of Medicine
New York Academy of Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Scientific career
InstitutionsMount Sinai Hospital (Manhattan)
Medical Corps (United States Army)
Strangeways Research Laboratory
Marine Biological Laboratory
New York University School of Medicine

Gerald Weissmann (August 7, 1930 – July 10, 2019)[1] was an Austrian-born American physician/scientist, editor, and essayist. He was Professor Emeritus and Research Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology) at New York University School of Medicine. He was Editor-in-Chief (2006–16) of The FASEB Journal.[2] At the time of his death he was its Book Review editor. In 1965, He was one of the discoverers of Liposomes and is credited with coining that term.

Early life and education[edit]

Weissmann was born in Vienna, Austria on August 7, 1930, to Adolf and Greta (Lustbader) Weissmann.[3][4] His family, being Jewish, fled the Nazis and immigrated to the United States in 1938, and Gerald and his family became naturalized American citizens in 1943.[5] After the Bronx High School of Science, he received a B.A. from Columbia University in 1950 and his M.D. from New York University in 1954. He also pursued an early career in art, exhibiting at a major New York gallery.[6]


After clinical training at the Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York in New York City and active service as captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, he took a research fellowship in the Department of Biochemistry at NYU (1958–59) under Nobel laureate, Severo Ochoa. Lewis Thomas then selected him as Chief Medical Resident at Bellevue Hospital Center (1959–60). Weissmann next worked at the Strangeways Research Laboratory, Cambridge England, studying cell biology under Dame Honor B. Fell to 1962. He returned to N.Y.U. School of Medicine, and has been on its faculty to date. In 1964 and 1969, he was a visiting investigator at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, England; in 1973-1974 he was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation scholarship at the Centre de Physiologie et d'Immunologie Cellulaires, Hôpital Saint-Antoine at Sorbonne University, Paris, as a visiting investigator; and as visiting fellow at the William Harvey Research Institute at the Queen Mary University of London, in 1987.

Weissmann became Professor of Medicine at N.Y.U. in 1970, and served as Director of the Division of Rheumatology from 1973 to 1999. From 1970 to date, he has spent summers as an investigator and lecturer and has served for 18 years as a trustee (now emeritus) at the Marine Biological Laboratory Woods Hole, MA.[7] He is best known for having presented evidence that rheumatoid arthritis is an immune complex disease (provoked perhaps by genetic programs that misdirect immune responses to oral bacteria).[8][9] His laboratory found that crises in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus are provoked by intravascular complement activation.[10] Using a tissue culture system containing a mixture of both leukocytes and endothelial cells, he pioneered studies in both leukocyte activation (via Complement component 5a, immune complexes, etc.), and the role of salicylates and corticosteroids in cell signaling and adhesion (NF-κB and MAP kinases of MAPK3, MAPK1, and Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase).[11]

He is responsible for the codiscovery of Liposomes in 1965 and credited with coining that name by the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language (1965). He was a founder (with E.C. Whitehead) and a director of the Liposome Company, Inc. (2000 purchased by Élan), from 1982 to 2000, and two drugs based on his liposome work are now in the clinic (Abelcet and Myocet).[12][13] There are now over 940,000 references to liposomes on Google scholar [1] Liposomes have been recognized as "one of the most successful drug delivery systems (DDS) given their established utility and success in the clinic in the past 40-50 years."[14] Weissmann has been acknowledged as "Liposome's Literary Founder."[2]

Dr. Weissmann has received the Lila Gruber Award for Cancer Research two residencies at the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center at Bellagio, the Allesandro Robecchi and Paul Klemperer awards for inflammation research, as well as the Distinguished Investigator and Presidential Gold Medal Awards of the American College of Rheumatology He is a foreign member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei of Rome and the Royal Society of Medicine of London. He is a Master and past president of the American College of Rheumatology, a past president of the Harvey Society, a Fellow of the AAAS, The New York Academy of Medicine and The New York Academy of Sciences. With Joshua Lederberg, he was a founding member of the advisory boards of the Pew Scholars in Biomedical Sciences, the Ellison Medical Foundation, and was the founding chairman of the jury for the Prix Galien Prix Galien USA.

From 1975-2001[15], Weissmann was the founding editor of the journal, Inflammation; he edited MD Magazine from 1979-1984, and from 2006 to 2016 has served as the Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. At the time of his death he was the book review editor of that journal.


A member of PEN, Weissmann has published essays and reviews of cultural history in The New Republic, the London Review of Books, and The New York Times Book Review. His work has been collected in eleven volumes, among them The Woods Hole Cantata (1985) and The Fevers of Reason (2018). Recently, he has edited a special issue of The European Review < Volume 27 / Issue 1, February 2019> that revisits C.P. Snow's "Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution" after 60 years.His work has been praised for scientific insight by Jonas Salk, for literary style by Kurt Vonnegut, and for breadth of general culture by Adam Gopnik. His published volumes of essays include:

  • The Woods Hole Cantata (1985) ISBN 9780396086185
  • They All Laughed At Christopher Columbus (1987) ISBN 9780812916188
  • The Doctor With Two Heads (1990) ISBN 9780679733911
  • The Doctor Dilemma (1992) ISBN 9781879736054
  • Democracy and DNA (1995) ISBN 9780809093052
  • Darwin's Audubon (2002) ISBN 9780738205977
  • The Year of the Genome (2002) ISBN 9780805072921
  • Galileo's Gout : Science in an age of Endarkenment (2007) ISBN 9781934137000
  • Mortal and Immortal DNA (2009) ISBN 9781934137161
  • Epigenetics in the Age of Twitter (2012) ISBN 9781934137390
  • The Fevers of Reason (2018) ISBN 9781942658320

Personal life[edit]

He has been married to Ann (Raphael) Weissmann since 1953, and has two children, Lisa Beth Weissmann, MD of Mount Auburn Hospital Cambridge, MA and Andrew Weissmann, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the NYU School of Law.


He died on July 10, 2019.


  1. ^ "FASEB Mourns Passing of Gerald Weissmann". FASEB (Press release). 2019-07-12. Retrieved 2019-07-14.
  2. ^
  3. ^ HighBeam
  4. ^
  5. ^ Weissmann, Gerald (2 August 2007). Written at The Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts. "Gerald Weissmann, Oral History Transcript #0371" (Interview). Interviewed by Arthur Daemmrich. Philadelphia, PA: Chemical Heritage Foundation.
  6. ^ "Youthful Painter Gives Exhibition" New York Times December 17, 1949 p 15
  7. ^
  8. ^ Goldstein, I.M., Roos, D., Kaplan, H., and Weissmann, G., Complement and immunoglobulins stimulate superoxide production by human leukocytes independently of phagocytosis, J. Clin. Invest., 56:1155-1163, 1975.
  9. ^ Rosenstein ED, Greenwald RA, Kushner LJ, Weissmann G. Hypothesis: the humoral immune response to oral bacteria provides a stimulus for the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation 28:311-318 2004.
  10. ^ Abramson, S.B., Belmont, H.M., Hopkins, P., Buyon, J., Winchester, R. and Weissmann, G. Complement activation and vascular injury in systemic lupus erythematosus. J. Rheumatology. 14:43-46, 1987.
  11. ^ Kimmel, S.C., Cronstein, B.N., Levin, R.I., and Weissmann, G. A mechanism for the antiinflammatory effects of corticosteroids: The glucocorticoid receptor regulates leukocyte adhesion to endothelial cells and expression of ELAM-1 and ICAM-1. Proc. Nat'l. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 89:9991-9995, 1992.
  12. ^ Bangham, A.D., Standish, M.M. and Weissmann, G., The action of steroids and streptolysin S on the permeability of phospholipid structures to cations, J. Mol. Biol., 13:253-259, 1965.
  13. ^ Sessa, G. and Weissmann, G., Phospholipid spherules (liposomes) as a model for biological membranes, J. Lipid Res., 9:310-318, 1968.
  14. ^ : Leung, A W. Y.; Amador, C; Wang, Lin Chuan; et al.PHARMACEUTICS 11:124-5 MAR 2019
  15. ^ Weissmann, Gerald (2018). The Fevers of Reason: New and Selected Essays. ISBN 978-1942658320.