From Caracas to Stockholm: A Life in Medical Science
By the time Benacerraf received a Nobel prize in 1980 for his discovery of immune response genes, he had travelled a long way - literally on the road to success. He was born in Venezuela in 1920 to Sephardic Jewish parents from Algeria and Morocco. Benacerraf's childhood was spent primarily in Paris, until fear of war with Nazi Germany compelled his family to flee to Venezuela in 1939. Persuading his parents to send him to New York that same year, Benacerraf attended Columbia University, beginning a peripatetic existence that lasted until he landed in Boston in 1969, where he has held prominent positions at Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. In the meantime, his passion for medical research gained him numerous prestigious appointments and awards. In addition to chronicling developments in his personal life, Benacerraf offers up rather dry accounts of his most important research projects - as well as his prediction for advances in cancer treatment and his somewhat crotchety opinions on the state of science education today and the research grant business. Despite colourful early years and his impressive accomplishments, Benacerraf paints his life in a two-dimensional fashion and presents insights without enough imagination to sustain the average reader's interest for long.
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