Family Stories · Family Ties to the Founding of the Rockefeller University, the Rockefeller Foundation, The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, and the first Accreditation System for Medical Schools in America
Family Ties to the Founding of the Rockefeller University, the Rockefeller Foundation, The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, and the first Accreditation System for Medical Schools in America

The role of Dr. James Carey Thomas and his daughter Martha Carey Thomas, Snowden descendants, in the founding of the Johns Hopkins Medical School has been reviewed under "Johns Hopkins" above. Helen Whitall Thomas, Martha Carey's sister, married Simon Flexner and thus brought two Flexner brothers, Simon and Abraham, into the family fold.

Simon Flexner was the first Director of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now the Rockefeller University ), which was founded in New York City in 1901. William Welch, the first Professor and Chairman of Pathology at Johns Hopkins, was the first Chairman of the Board of the Rockefeller Institute and given the responsibility to select the first director. Dr. Welch chose his former student and long-time associate in Pathology at Hopkins, to fill this position. In addition to serving as Director, Dr. Flexner conducted innovative research in infectious disease, an important area of investigation at the turn of the century, and identified one of the microbial causes of diarrhea, the Bacillus flexnerii.

James Carey Thomas Flexner, the son of Simon Flexner and Mary Whitall Thomas, is an accomplished author who has written several books on George Washington, one on William Henry Welch, and one about his mother and father, entitled "An American Saga, the story of Helen Thomas and Simon Flexner (1983, Little Brown & Co.).

Simon's brother, Abraham Flexner, was responsible for the Flexner Report on Medical Schools in the United States (1910). This report established the first accreditation system and caused the closing of over 100 deficient medical schools in the United States. Abraham was then chosen to organize the Rockefeller Foundation for the support of extramural scientific and medical study. Because of a controversy which developed shortly after taking on this responsibility, he was forced to resign. Abraham Flexner then went on to found, single-handedly, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.

Throughout the 20th century, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton provided a professional home for many of Americas greatest scientists. Albert Einstein spent the last 18 years of his life living in Princeton and working at the Institute for Advanced Studies. J. Robert Oppenheimer, Director of the Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico and Head of the Manhattan Project, which built the first atomic bomb, was the long-time Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the 1950s and 1960s

As an undergraduate at Princeton in 1960, George A. Scheele, started a Faculty Seminar Program for the Quadrangle Eating Club. Three notable seminars were presented by (i) George Gallup, the originator of the Gallup Poll, (ii) George Kennan, the architect of the "Domino Theory", which predicted the need to block expanding Communism throughout Asia and ultimately led to the Vietnam War in the 1960s, and (iii) J. Robert Oppenheimer, Head of the scientific team that invented the atomic bomb. In the latter case, Dr. Oppenheimer was not allowed to give public lectures because his security clearance had been revoked by the McCarthy Commission, a misguided decision to say the least. However, because the Quadrangle Club was a private entity, he consented to give an informal talk at the club. When the talk was scheduled word spread quickly throughout the campus and nearly the entire faculty showed up to see the famous scientist and hear him speak. Dr. Oppenheimer's presentation was profound, sensitively addressed, widely appreciated.

After receiving his MD degree from Johns Hopkins in 1965 and serving on Residency Training Programs at Hopkins and the University of California at San Francisco (1965 through 1970, punctuated by two years at the National Institutes of Health, US Public Health Service (1966-68), Dr. George A. Scheele worked at the Rockefeller University from 1970 through 1988, first with Dr. George E. Palade, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1974, and Dr. Gunter Blobel, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1999. In each case Dr. Scheele's research contributed importantly to the seminal works that were honored in these Nobel prizes. Dr. Scheele describes his career as a "Physician", "Scientist", "Inventor", "Author" and "Entrepreneur" and his role as a two-time "Nobel Associate" in his career website.

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©2005 George A. Scheele MD