Rockefeller University

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The Rockefeller University
Rockefeller University seal.svg
Former names
The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (1901–1958), The Rockefeller Institute (1958–1965)
MottoScientia pro bono humani generis
Motto in English
Science for the benefit of humanity
Type Private
Established1901 (1901)
Endowment $2.29 billion (2019) [1]
President Richard P. Lifton
Location, ,
United States

40°45′45″N73°57′20″W / 40.76250°N 73.95556°W / 40.76250; -73.95556 Coordinates: 40°45′45″N73°57′20″W / 40.76250°N 73.95556°W / 40.76250; -73.95556

The Rockefeller University is a private graduate university in New York City. It focuses primarily on the biological and medical sciences and provides doctoral and postdoctoral education. Rockefeller is the oldest biomedical research institute in the United States. The 82-person faculty (tenured and tenure-track, as of 2018) has 37 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, seven Lasker Award recipients, and five Nobel laureates. As of October 2019, a total of 36 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Rockefeller University.


The university is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, between 63rd and 68th streets on York Avenue. Richard P. Lifton became the university's eleventh president on September 1, 2016. The Rockefeller University Press publishes the Journal of Experimental Medicine , the Journal of Cell Biology , and The Journal of General Physiology .


Campus as seen from Roosevelt Island (2019) Rockefeller University (48064098757).jpg
Campus as seen from Roosevelt Island (2019)
Founder's Hall Rockefeller University.JPG
Founder's Hall
The FDR Drive runs under the campus FDR Drive under Rockefeller Univ 5BBT 2013 jeh.jpg
The FDR Drive runs under the campus

The Rockefeller University was founded in June 1901 as The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research—often called simply The Rockefeller Institute—by John D. Rockefeller, who had founded the University of Chicago in 1889, upon advice by his adviser Frederick T. Gates [2] and action taken in March 1901 by his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr. [3] Greatly elevating the prestige of American science and medicine, it was America's first biomedical institute, like France's Pasteur Institute (1888) and Germany's Robert Koch Institute (1891). [2] The Rockefeller Foundation, a philanthropic organization, founded in 1913, is a separate entity, but had close connections mediated by prominent figures holding dual positions. [4]

The first director of laboratories was Simon Flexner, who supervised the development of research capacity at the Institute, whose staff made major discoveries in basic research and medicine. While a student at Johns Hopkins University, Flexner had studied under the Institute's first scientific director, William H. Welch, first dean of Hopkins' medical school and known as the dean of American medicine. [3] Flexner retired in 1935 and was succeeded by Herbert Gasser. [5] He was succeeded in 1953 by Detlev Bronk, who broadened The Rockefeller Institute into a university that began awarding the PhD degree in 1954. [3] In 1965 The Rockefeller Institute's name was changed to The Rockefeller University. [3]

For its first six decades, the Institute focused on basic research to develop basic science, on applied research as biomedical engineering, and, since 1910—when The Rockefeller Hospital opened on its campus as America's first facility for clinical research—on clinical science. [6] The Rockefeller Hospital's first director Rufus Cole retired in 1937 and was succeeded by Thomas Milton Rivers. [7] As director of The Rockefeller Institute's virology laboratory, he established virology as an independent field apart from bacteriology.

Notable individuals

Notable figures to emerge from the institution include Alexis Carrel, Peyton Rous, Hideyo Noguchi, Thomas Milton Rivers, Richard Shope, Thomas Francis Jr, Oswald T. Avery, Rebecca Lancefield, Wendell Meredith Stanley, René Dubos, Ashton Carter, and Cornelius P. Rhoads. Others attained eminence before being drawn to the university. Joshua Lederberg, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1958, served as president of the university from 1978 to 1990. [8] Paul Nurse, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2001, was president from 2003 to 2010. [9] (Before Nurse's tenure, Thomas Sakmar was acting-president from 2002. [10] ) In all, as of October 2019, 36 Nobel Prize recipients have been associated with the University. In the mid-1970s, the University attracted a few prominent academicians in the humanities, such as Saul Kripke.

Rockefeller Sr, urged by Rockefeller Jr, his only son, who was enthusiastic about the Institute, visited the University once. [11] Rockefeller Jr's youngest son David would visit with his father. [12] David Rockefeller joined the board of trustees in 1940, was its chairman from 1950 to 1975, chaired the board's executive committee from 1975 to 1995, became honorary chairman and life trustee, [13] and remained active as a philanthropist until his death. [12]


The archives of Rockefeller University are at the Rockefeller Archive Center, established in 1974 as part of the university and organized as an independent foundation since 2008. [14]

Reginald Archibald sexual misconduct case

Dr. Reginald Archibald, an endocrinologist at the university from 1948 to 1982 allegedly abused dozens of boys during his time at the University while studying growth problems in children, including molestation and photographing them naked. [15] [16] Officials at Rockefeller University knew of the legitimacy of the claims for years before notifying the public. [16] The University and hospital has issued a statement confirming that he had "engaged in certain inappropriate conduct during patient examinations" and that they "deeply regret" any "pain and suffering" the former patients have felt. [15] Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated that he will sign a bill that was passed in the New York congres s that would null the statute of limitations for the civil suits of child victims, which will allow them to make cases against the University. [15]

Organization and administration


To foster an interdisciplinary atmosphere among its laboratories, faculty members are grouped into one or more of ten interconnecting research areas: [17] [18]



University Rankings
ARWU World35
Leiden World1

The university is designated "R-2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity" with the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education in 2019 update. [19]

Rockefeller has a history of research breakthroughs including:

In the last decade, Rockefeller scientists have:

Student life

The university has periodic events, such as an alumni lecture series featuring individuals such as David J. Anderson, of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute. [31]

Student body

As of 2019, Rockefeller had 218 Ph.D. and M.D.-Ph.D. students. [32]

Promotion of women in science and outreach activities

The Rockefeller University established a Women in Science initiative in 1998 to address the underrepresentation of women in the field [33] which is founded mainly by female philanthropists. [34] The program includes scholarships and an entrepreneurship found to help increase the low number of female researchers that commercialize their discoveries. [35] In 2004 Rockefeller's professor Paul Greengard donated the full amount of his Nobel Prize to established the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize given annually to women scientist in the field of biology.

Rockefeller also host diverse initiatives to promote science and culture: Parents & Science Initiative, [36] The RockEDU Science Outreach for K-12 students and teachers [37] that includes lab experience and professional development and The Lewis Thomas Prize for writing about science is given annually.

In addition, Rockefeller hosts the Peggy Rockefeller Concerts [38] and in collaboration with Cornell University and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center it hosts the Tri-Institutional Noon concert Series.

In 2012, Rockefeller began participating in Open House New York's OHNY Weekend. [39]

Notable people

Nobel laureates

YearNobel LaureatePrizeRockefeller Affiliation
2017 Michael W. Young Physiology or MedicineFaculty when prize awarded
2016 Yoshinori Ohsumi Physiology or MedicinePostdoctoral fellow before prize awarded
2011 Ralph Steinman Physiology or MedicineFaculty when prize awarded
2011 Bruce Beutler Physiology or MedicinePostdoctoral fellow before prize awarded
2003 Roderick MacKinnon ChemistryFaculty when prize awarded
2001 Paul Nurse Physiology or MedicinePresident and faculty after prize awarded
2000 Paul Greengard Physiology or MedicineFaculty when prize awarded
1999 Günter Blobel Physiology or MedicineFaculty when prize awarded
1984 R. Bruce Merrifield ChemistryFaculty when prize awarded
1981 Torsten Wiesel Physiology or MedicinePresident and faculty after prize awarded
1975 David Baltimore Physiology or MedicineAlumnus; President after prize awarded
1974 Albert Claude Physiology or MedicineFaculty before prize awarded
1974 Christian de Duve Physiology or MedicineFaculty when prize awarded
1974 George E. Palade Physiology or MedicineFaculty before prize awarded
1972 Stanford Moore ChemistryFaculty when prize awarded
1972 William H. Stein ChemistryFaculty when prize awarded
1972 Gerald M. Edelman Physiology or MedicineAlumnus; Faculty when prize awarded
1967 H. Keffer Hartline Physiology or MedicineFaculty when prize awarded
1966 Peyton Rous Physiology or MedicineEmeritus faculty when prize awarded
1958 Joshua Lederberg Physiology or MedicinePresident and then faculty after prize awarded
1958 Edward L. Tatum Physiology or MedicineFaculty when prize awarded
1953 Fritz Lipmann Physiology or MedicineRockefeller fellow before and faculty after prize awarded
1946 John H. Northrop ChemistryMember when prize awarded
1946 Wendell M. Stanley ChemistryMember when prize awarded
1944 Herbert S. Gasser Physiology or MedicineDirector when prize awarded
1930 Karl Landsteiner Physiology or MedicineMember when prize awarded
1912 Alexis Carrel Physiology or MedicineMember when prize awarded

Award affiliations taken from "The Rockefeller University » Nobel Laureates" . Retrieved March 17, 2016.


There are more than 1,262 alumni. [40]

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