Oral Histories

Interview of Clara M. Szego

UCLA professor of molecular, developmental, and cellular biology.
Insight and Progress: Development of a Cell Biologist
Interviews not in a series, part one
UCLA and University of California History
Science, Medicine, and Technology
UCLA Faculty
Biographical Note:
UCLA professor of molecular, developmental, and cellular biology.
Balter, Michael S.
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.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
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.