Oral Histories

Interview of Clara M. Szego

UCLA professor of molecular, developmental, and cellular biology.
Subtitle:
Insight and Progress: Development of a Cell Biologist
Topic:
UCLA and University of California History
Science, Medicine, and Technology
UCLA Faculty
Interviewer:
Balter, Michael S.
Interviewee:
Szego, Clara M.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Abstract:
the faculty in the Yale University Department of Physiological Chemistry in the mid-1940s; Abraham White; working conditions at Yale; research by Sidney Roberts; discovery that inaccurate calibration of equipment at Yale led to earlier erroneous data; Szego's study of total inanition; learning how to respond to criticism; continuing developments in growth-hormone research; decision to follow Abraham White to UCLA School of Medicine; White's appointment canceled because of opposition of University of California Board of Regents; Boris Krichesky; Szego offered position in Department of Zoology; the UCLA Atomic Energy Project; classes begin in the School of Medicine with Sidney Roberts as acting chair of the Department of Biochemistry; Department of Zoology faculty in the late 1940s; conflicts between comparative and biochemical approaches to zoology; Szego's teaching philosophy; ground-breaking ceremonies for UCLA's Center for Health Sciences; admissions policies for the School of Medicine; awards and publications in the early 1950s; levels of knowledge in the 1950s of whole-animal hormone processes; the loyalty oath controversy in the University of California system; Eugene Spaziani's work on the role of histamine; intense opposition develops in late 1950s to Szego's findings on the role of histamine; the use of electronic microscopy in the study of lysosomes; Richard J. Pietra's definitive evidence of estrogen interaction with receptors on cell membrane; scientific debates and access to funding; testing for the effect of estrogen on levels of cyclic AMP; effects of diethylstillbestrol; Jack Gorski sets out to disprove findings on hormone-cell membrane interaction; independent confirmation of the Szego/Pietra findings; Szego promoted to full professorship in 1960; developing theory of the lysosome; Szego's first public presentation of work on lysosomes in 1969; tracing the path from research in hormone-cell membrane interaction to a breakthrough in lysosome theory; critique of estrogen-activation theories; exchange with Bert O'Malley; campus activism in the 1960s; the Crosstown Endocrine Discussion Group; competition between different emphases in the Department of Biology; Szego's service in the Endocrine Society; 1979 memorial dinner in honor of Leo T. Samuels; George C. Szego's professional accomplishments; Sidney Roberts's research into the regulation of protein synthesis in the brain; Szego and Roberts's demonstration of steroid-hormone interaction with protein; competing models to Szego's hypothesis of membrane localization of steroid receptors; disputes with Gorski; nuclear entry; observations on the history of endocrinology; conflicts within the UCLA Department of Biology; closing her laboratory September 1985; continued university service after retirement; Sidney Roberts's activities after retirement from UCLA.