Rockefeller University

Rockefeller University

Rockefeller University is also known as RU according to First institution in the United States dedicated exclusively to using biomedical research to understand the underlying causes of disease.

It is today one of the most important biomedical research centers in the world, and its scientists have made numerous contributions to biology and medicine.


Rockefeller University was founded in 1901 by John Davison Rockefeller as the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.

In addition to a century of award-winning advancements, Rockefeller has dedicated more than half a century to training the next generation of pioneering and innovative scientists.


The origins of the university stem from a personal tragedy. After the grandson of John Davison Rockefeller died of scarlet fever in January of 1901, the capitalist and philanthropist he formalized plans to establish a research center had been discussing for three years with his advisor Frederick Taylor Gates, and his son John Davison Rockefeller Jr.

At the time of the institute’s founding, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis fever, diphtheria, and typhoid fever were considered the greatest known threats to human health.

New research centers in Europe, including that of Koch and Pasteur, were Institutes that successfully applied laboratory science to increase understanding of these and other diseases. Following his example, the Rockefeller Institute became the first biomedical research center in the United States.

Rockefeller university

First moments

At first, the Rockefeller Institute awarded scholarships to study, among other public health problems, bacterial contamination in the production of milk in New York.

After two years in temporary quarters, the laboratories opened in 1906 on the site of the former Schermerhorn farm on York Avenue (then called A Avenue) and 66th Street.

From the beginning, Rockefeller researchers made important contributions to understanding and curing the disease. Simón Flexner, the institute’s first director, developed a new delivery system for a serum against meningitis; Hideyo Noguchi studied the syphilis microbe and searched for the cause of yellow fever; Louise Pearce developed a drug to use against African sleeping sickness, and Peyton Rous deduces that cancer can be caused by a virus.


The Rockefeller Institute hospital was crucial to the mission of the institute, inaugurated in 1910. The first center for clinical research in the United States, it remains a place where researchers can link laboratory investigations with bedside observations to provide a scientific basis for disease detection, prevention, and treatment.

At first, the hospital researchers studied polio, heart disease, and diabetes, among other diseases. This special hospital environment served as a model for the dozens of other clinical research centers established over the next several decades.

New mission

In 1955, the Rockefeller Institute expanded its mission to include education and admitted its first class of graduate students. The first doctoral degrees were awarded in 1959.

In 1965, the Rockefeller Institute became Rockefeller University, expanding its research mandate. In the 1960s, new professors with backgrounds in physics and mathematics came to Rockefeller and in 1972, the university began its collaboration with Cornell University to offer graduate students an MD-Ph.D program.


It is located in the southeast area of ​​the island of Manhattan in New York.

Research areas

  • Structural biochemistryand molecular chemistry
  • Cell and developmental biology
  • Immunology, Virology and Microbiology
  • Medical Sciences and Human Genetics
  • Physical neuroscience
  • Mathematical biology

Pioneering discoveries

  • Discovered that DNAis the basic material of inheritance
  • Determined that cancercan be caused by a virus
  • Confirmed the connection between cholesterol and heart disease
  • He discovered blood groups and how to preserve all blood
  • Isolated natural antibiotics and the first successful test
  • Developed vaccines against meningitis are used to fight epidemics around the world
  • Methadone maintenance therapy developed for heroin addiction
  • Developed AIDS”cocktail” of drug therapy
  • He showed that the brain of an adult of a higher species can form new nerve cells
  • An obesity gene and the weight-regulating hormone leptin have been discovered

Honors and recognitions

In its history of more than 100 years, scientists at Rockefeller University have been associated with many prestigious awards. These awards, which include national and international recognition, include:

  • Nobel Prize: Since the institution’s founding in 1901, 24 Nobel Prize winners have been associated with the university.
  • Award Albert Lasker Award: Since 1946, when the first Lasker Awards were presented, 21 beneficiaries have been associated with the Rockefeller University.
  • National Medal of Science. Since its inception in 1959, the National Medal of Science has been awarded to distinguished scientists and engineers whose careers spanned decades of research and development. Twenty scientists associated with Rockefeller University have been honored with this award.
  • Institute of Medicine: Members of the Institute are chosen on the basis of their professional achievements and commitment to service. Sixteen scientists from Rockefeller University are members of the Institute of Medicine.
  • The National Academy: Foreign members and partners are chosen in recognition of their distinguished achievements and continued original research. Thirty-five scientists at Rockefeller University are foreign members or partners of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Gairdner Foundation International Award: Since 1959, when the first Gairdner Foundation International Awards were presented, 15 recipients have partnered with Rockefeller University.
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