Baltimore native and the son of a grocer, Martin Rodbell was born December 1,
1925. He attended Baltimore City College, a public high school, and then Johns
Hopkins University. World War II interrupted his studies there; he served as a
Navy radioman with the Pacific fleet. After the war, Rodbell returned to Johns
Hopkins, and switched to science, from French literature, as a vocation. At the
University of Washington, in Seattle he received his Ph.D. in biochemistry, and
then came to the National Institutes of Health as a research biochemist in Nobel
laureate Christian Anfinsen's laboratory at the National Heart Institute, now
called the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
worked at the NIH from 1956 until his death in 1998, first in the National Heart
Institute, then in the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases,
now called the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
He was scientific director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
(NIEHS) from 1985 to 1989.
For a more in depth look at Martin Rodbell's life and work, visit the National
Library of Medicine's "Profiles
in Science" site and the Nobel Foundation's eNobel
my chagrin the chemistry course required a more sophisticated
level of understanding than I had experienced. The same
was true of physics. The result, I switched to French
literature as a major....Only after graduation, taking
an extra year for studying advanced physical chemistry
and related courses, did I understand that I was capable
of being a scientist. I was nearly 25 years old!"
Martin Rodbell, letter to Dr. Leon Lederman,
December 30, 1995
(Photograph date 1994)
day I listened to Morse code. If that isn't
for looking at cell signaling, I don't
know what is."
-Martin Rodbell on his Navy days (1946)