© The Nobel Foundation
George Wald

American Jewish

Recipients of the

Nobel Prize


George Wald: Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Recipient-1967
by Seymour “Sy” Brody

George Wald was an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, in 1967, which he shared with Ragnar Granit and Haldan Keffer Hartline for their discoveries concerning the primary physiological and chemical visual processes in the eye.

He was born on November 18, 1906, in New York City. His parents, Ernestine and Isaac Wald, were Jewish immigrant from Europe, who worked in the garment industry.

He was a member of the first graduating class of Brooklyn Technical High School in New York City, in 1922. He earned his B.S. Degree from New York University, in 1927. He then went to Columbia University where he earned his Ph.D. in zoology, in 1927.

He was awarded a grant from the National Research Council Fellowship in biology, 1932-34. He used this money to go abroad to work in the laboratory of Otto Warburg. It was here that he first identified vitamin A in the retina. He left Germany because of the Hitler regime and went to work in the laboratories of the University of Chicago.

Wald came to Harvard University in 1934 and remained until 1948. He started as a tutor in Biochemical Sciences and worked his way up to become a Professor of Biology, in 1948.

Wald was very outspoken on social issues. He was very vocal against the Viet Nam War and the nuclear arms race.

George Wald received many awards for his work:
• Eli Lilly Award from the American Chemical Society, 1939
• A member of the National Academy of Sciences, 1950
• Lasker Award of the American Public Health Association, 1953
• Proctor Medal of the Association for Research in Ophthalmology, 1955
• Rumford Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1959
• Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America, 1966
• Paul Karrer Medal of the university of Zurich, 1967
• T, Duckett Jones Memorial Award of the Whitney Foundation, 1967
• Bradford Washburn Medal from the Boston Museum of Science, 1968
• Max Berg Award, 1969
• Joseph Priestley Award, 1970
• Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America, 1966

George Wald died on April 12, 1997. He was survived by his wife, Ruth Hubbard, three sons, Michael, David, Elijah and a daughter Deborah. He had nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.


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