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Samuel Natelson

Samuel Natelson

Detail of Image, CHF Collections

  • Born: February 28, 1909, Brooklyn, New York
  • Died: March 31, 2001

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0166
Interview Date: February 26, 1998
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Interviewers: James G. Traynham and Myrson M. Warshaw
No. of pages: 42
Sponsor: American Association for Clinical Chemistry
American Association for Clinical Chemistry

  Abstract of Interview

Samuel Natelson begins the interview with a discussion of his family background and childhood in Brooklyn, New York. He attended City College of New York and received his B.S. in chemistry in 1928. As a graduate student, Natelson attended New York University, receiving a Sc.M. in 1930 and his Ph.D. in 1931. After receiving his Ph.D., he began his career teaching at Girls Commercial High School. While maintaining his teaching position, Natelson joined the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn in 1933. Working as a clinical chemist for Jewish Hospital, Natelson first conceived of the idea of a society by and for clinical chemists. Natelson worked to organize the nine charter members of the American Association of Clinical Chemists, which formally began in 1948. A pioneer in the field of clinical chemistry, Samuel Natelson has become a role model for the clinical chemist. Natelson developed the usage of microtechniques in clinical chemistry. During this period, he served as a consultant to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the 1960s, helping analyze the effect of weightless atmospheres on astronauts' blood. Natelson spent his later career as chair of the biochemistry department at Michael Reese Hospital and as a lecturer at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He then became an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine. Natelson concludes his interview with thoughts on the future of clinical chemistry and reflections on his career and family.


1928 B.S., Chemistry, City College of New York
1930 Sc.M., Chemistry, New York University
1931 Ph.D., Chemistry, New York University

  Professional Experience

New York University

1928 - 1931 Instructor

New York Testing Lab

1931 - 1932 Research Chemist in-Charge

Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn

1933 - 1949 Research Biochemist

Brooklyn College Graduate School

1947 - 1949 Lecturer

Rockford Memorial Hospital

1949 - 1957 Chair, Department of Biochemistry

Brooklyn College Graduate School

1957 - 1965 Lecturer

St. Vincent's Hospital

1957 - 1958 Chair, Department of Biochemistry

Roosevelt Hospital

1958 - 1965 Chair, Department of Biochemistry

New York Polyclinical Medical School and Hospital

1962 - 1965 Lecturer

Michael Reese Hospital

1965 - 1979 Chair, Department of Biochemistry

Illinois Institute of Technology

1971 - 1979 Lecturer

University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine

1979 Adjunct Professor


1961 Van Slyke Award in Clinical Chemistry
1965 Ames Award, American Association of Clinical Chemists
1971 Science Award, Illinois Clinical Lab Associates
1972 Chicago Clinical Chemistry Award

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Early Years 1

Attending high school. Family background. Interest in chemistry. Starting college. Decision to attend graduate school.

Graduate Education and Early Career 4

Majoring in organic chemistry. Working with Professor Joseph B. Niederl. Patent on making rose oil. Teaching high school. Shift from career in industrial chemistry to clinical chemistry.

Career as Clinical Chemist 7

Starting at Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn. Working on cancer treatments. Going to Rockford Memorial Hospital.

American Association of Clinical Chemists 13

Organizing clinical chemists. Decision to elect Harry Sobotka as first president. Organizational differences. Position as Head of Nominating Committee. Desire to advance the position of clinical chemists. Abolishment of fellow status. Role of pathologists.

Later Career 22

Developing microtechniques. Working with NASA. Years at Rockford Memorial Hospital. Reflections on playing baseball. Need for role models in clinical chemistry. Working at St. Vincent's Hospital and Michael Reese Hospital.

Final Thoughts 33

Receiving adjunct professorship at College of Veterinary Medicine. Discussion on the future of clinical chemistry. Reflections on career and family.

Notes 39

Index 40

Appendix 43

  About the Interviewer

James G. Traynham

James G. Traynham is a professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He joined Louisiana State University in 1953 and served as chemistry department chairperson from 1968 to 1973. He was chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1988 and is currently councilor of the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s Joint-Board Council on Chemistry and Public Affairs, as well as a member of the Society’s Committees on Science, Chemical Education, and Organic Chemistry Nomenclature. He has written over 90 publications, including a book on organic nomenclature and a book on the history of organic chemistry.

Myrson M. Warshaw

Myron M. Warshaw is director of clinical chemistry in the department of pathology at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a position he has held for the last twenty-five years. He graduated from the University of Connecticut with an A.B. in chemistry and mathematics, and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1965. He spent his early years as assistant professor of chemistry and assistant dean of the graduate school of arts and sciences at New York University, Washington Square. He is the author of some 30 publications, primarily in the field of biophysical chemistry. Dr. Warshaw is active in the American Association of Clinical Chemists (AACC), and currently is president of the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry.

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