Prof. Albert Neuberger was born in Bavaria in 1908. He talks about father's influence on his early life. His father was kind, wise and very intelligent, he was a businessman. Formal education finished at the age of 16. He talks about his mother's influence. She was very affectionate had a very happy childhood. Neuberger was the eldest of three children. Brother had an interesting career and ended up as a rabbi in the USA. His sister was a medical student when Hitler came to power she carried on for a year but then had to leave, she went to Palestine and worked on a farm, and then married a farmer and became a mother of three children, she enjoyed enormously being a medical student.
Early school days. Neuberger attended elementary school. He could read and write before he went to school at the age of six but comments on how he is not sure how he acquired these early skills. He enjoyed school very much. He attended elementary school until the age of 9 and the war was still on. He was sent to school in town 45 miles away, it was essentially a classical school where he learnt Latin. Classics gave him a very good basic education. Classics were regarded an essential part of education for an academic career. He enjoyed logic, language and structure. He left school just under 18 and went to university and read classics and mediaeval history. He changed to medicine after one year.
When asked 'what brought on the uncertainty that instigated the change?' Neuberger answers by first talking about how school conditions were difficult in the war years and how this in turn lead him to be given private tuition, and studied the classics. The private tuition continued for 3 or 4 years. He was encouraged to indulge in various intellectual activities and enjoyed Greek philosophy and read widely. There were lots of academic people staying at the house and he gained there a remarkable intellectual training. Neuberger is asked, about the interests that took him away from classics to medicine. He felt he had been brought up in a confined intellectual environment, there had been an over emphasis in intellectual life. He wanted to have a job that would bring him in contact with ordinary people. He talks about how he had to convince his family that he had made the right decision. He had an uncle who he respected very much and he was a general practitioner. He was attracted to the idea that the individual was responsible for patients and was an independent person.
His teachers were a remarkable group of people, particularly in his pre-clinical years. He enjoyed human contact and science, a had a good mixture of interests. Prof. Rona. Neuberger is asked who influenced you most in your pre-clinical years. Early interests in chemistry. He was allowed to study chemistry at the same time as his medical studies. Not all students had training in chemistry. He passed two examinations: one in organic and another in inorganic chemistry examinations side by side with his medical examinations. How he avoided the physiology lecture by Max Fry.
Neuberger left Würzburg to go to Berlin. He attended clinical lecture and all the lecture in the course. They were given by Karl Bonhoeffer the outstanding psychiatrist and neurologist. Neuberger came from conventional background, and when he first went to Berlin, he describes British authors writing in Berlin at the time (1930 to 1931). He was fascinated and shocked by the vitality, morality was shocking in the Berlin of 1930s at the same it was intellectually very exciting, he acquired many friends
He explains how he found Berlin shocking. The city was divided sharply between the Nazis, who were gaining strength all the time and the Communists. Both relied on violence and there was nothing much to distinguish between the two extremes. He is asked if he felt shielded by the university. Briefly speaking, the old values had disappeared and new values had not been formed in a satisfactory manner. He wasn't particularly political but he felt his political affiliations were slightly right of centre.
Neuberger carried out research whilst studying for MD at university. He attended course by a lecturer called Dewine (?) (who later became Professor of Medicine in Kiel). He invited him to work in his lab on a problem of his choice, he was very fortunate that he was able to select area of research. It was here that Neuberger developed a method of separating non protein nitrogen from proteins. He considered the work to be not of any important value on autolyses around 1929-30. He is asked if this was the time he was much more interested in doing research related to medicine in addition into going into fundamental scientific research because after this period he carried out clinical work for year and a half in Frankfurt. He qualified at just 23. He liked the work and in 1932 went back to Prof. Rona's. At the end of his time there he felt that the situation was becoming very difficult, with the possibility of Hitler coming to power. He talks about his reasons for moving to Britain; a good mixture of order, tolerance and standards. He came to Britain in 1932 to explore and find some contacts. He finally came to work at University College in the medical school with Sir Charles Harington as head of the department.
Charles Harington and other People of influence. Introduced to FT Donen (?) who introduced him to Physical chemistry. Neuberger took up dissociation constants of amino acids and proteins. He comments on the close contact between medical school and the college. He was given freedom to develop own research and interests. Neuberger gained his Ph.D. in 1936 and then a biofellowship. It was at this time that he began to work on glycoproteins.
What prompted the change of working with amino acids during the Ph.D. to glyco protein. He was puzzled by the fact that many proteins gave the Molish reaction (a reaction described by the Austrian botanist Molish). The Molish reaction is a colour reaction achieved by adding naphthol to a protein in the presence of concentrated sulphuric acid, and the aqueous face between the boundaries of the acid a colour formed which is seen as typical of a protein in fact the colour is given by carbohydrate decomposition products, the fact that it was given by many or most proteins revealed to him that all or most proteins are glycoproteins, this started Neuberger on the path to satisfy himself that most proteins are covalently bound carbohydrates. This work continued late into the 1930s it introduced him into sugar chemistry, published papers on amino sugars before the war. He met the leader in Carbohydrate chemistry at the time - Sir Norman Haworth. He published a paper in 'Chemistry Society' on the glycosides of Glucosamine and that the ring structure is of pyranose and furanose (?). He made what he considered a contribution to our knowledge of sugars.
Life in London 1933-1939. Neuberger lived in various parts in London in digs. When he gained his biofelloship he lived in a flat behind Selfridges. Neuberger compared his earnings then, to that of a bus conductor. The bus conductor earned more. Spare time was spent reading books on English history and wide selection of classics. He didn't take to Dickens but became extremely fond of Jane Austen, and read all the Walter Scott stories. He also liked poetry. He toured various counties by buses and trains and enjoyed lots of walking.
In 1939 circumstances forced Neuberger to move from London. Sir Fredrick Hopkins invited him to go to Cambridge. He chose research topics and asked to teach. N.W. Pirie had just left. He was asked to teach protein chemistry. He gave a series of lectures; it was quite intense work, and was his first involvement in teaching. He did some supervision for colleges, and was asked to supervise girls in Newham, though it was considered to be inappropriate to be left with one girl at a time, and he was once chaperoned by a don who seemed 100 years old and sat in the corner knitting.
As well as undergraduate teaching he managed to do research. Asked if it was at this stage that he superseded the work of Sanger. Fred Sanger first joined Neuberger as a Ph.D. student; he was a Quaker and a conscientious objector. Neuberger talks about Sanger. His discusses general pressure not to work on problems of national usefulness. Neuberger got to know Sir Charles Martin who, after he retired, went to Australia when he retired to Cambridge and he was a man of considerable interest and he suggested that working on potatoes might be a very useful thing to do, he thought he potato protein might be quite nutritionally valuable as this it seemed likely that the country would be at war for some time and the country might be depend on homegrown crops like potatoes for some time. He and Sanger worked on potatoes. He adds that just a few weeks ago he met a man who was writing a book on potatoes and told him that the work they did in 1939 is still considered interesting and important. They wrote the paper: The Nitrogen of the Potato. Neuberger had an interest protein end groups. Sanger's work on fluorobenzene (?) was not influenced by him, he said it was Sanger's own idea but it must have been something that they talked about. Neuberger was fascinated by a paper published in 1936 in which by application the by method similar to Sanger and others found the amount the end terminal phenol was greater in excess of the amount expected.
They talk about his non-scientist friends. Friends who as a specialist in roman law, friends who were physicists and historians. Stimulating environment at Cambridge. Enjoyment of punting on the river. Neuberger tells the story of what he did the day Paris fell, punting on the river felt so far away from the war.
He moved from Cambridge to London and worked for National Institute for Medical research with Sir Charles Harrington. He extended and developed his work at Cambridge. Forty Six isotopes became available and he working with porphyrin (paper the biogenesis of porphyrin) in 1948. Brief reference to Helen Muir. It was at this time that he met his future wife, Lillian. They were introduced each other by a friend. Lillian was interested in art and sculpture. They share most of their values and complement each other. Still images of Lillian's art and sculpture. He talks about his children including his first son David Neuberger and the mother's influence on children in the first few years of their lives. He discusses Lillian as mother and how she respected the children as individuals from early on.
Neuberger has three sons; James, Anthony and Michael. A titlecard describes their careers. Asked if he influenced them, Neuberger says he was prejudiced against social science and that he influenced them against taking soft options. He talks about the family hobby of sailing (a major interest) and says that when they were young they didn't like being tied to the mast! End of part one
Part Two. Neuberger went to India to act as nutritional advisor to the army in India in 1944. It was a time that he particularly enjoyed. He was given senior ranking in order to gain entry to higher levels in government. He acquired a high opinion of army at head quarter level. Neuberger felt he was involved in Indian life on a personal level. He saw the last few years of British rule in India. He discusses the new recruits' many nutritional problems as, in the first few months, they were unable to overcome earlier nutritional deficiencies. He dealt with facets of vegetarianism, an ethnically mixed army, nutritional adequate diet for all the denominations. Folic acid had just been identified and he discusses folate deficiency. A major problem was the rehabilitation of British and Indian troops captured by the Japanese. He became involved with the whole area of medical research in the Army.
Neuberger had to write a report directly to Secretary of State. He had looked at the population figures and, horrified the increase of 100, million in a relatively short time, he felt the medical problem that was going to face India after the war was the increase in population. Neuberger suggested a population policy for India.
From India to Hampstead. He is asked if any of his experiences in India in relation to nutrition influenced his work in Hampstead. Neuberger says that his own research was little influenced by being in India though he maintained a intellectual interest and a personal involvement as he had made many friends. He maintained contact with India and was invited back to give advice by the Indian Medical Research Council - this was the first Research Council and was created before the British Research Council. He talks about the Indian Nutrition Foundation.
Neuberger spent nine years at National Institute for Clinical Excellence. (NICE). It was an exciting time with the discovery of isotopes, development of equipment and new experiments. He talks about various departments at NICE and mentions briefly various people including Arthur John Porter Martin. Neugerger was a buffer between the directors and Martin. He had done the GLC experiments.
After nine years at NICE he moved to Chair of Chemistry at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School. He talks about moving from research to a place where he was involved in teaching and administration. He was never completely sure that just working on research would be the right sort of job and he liked the other duties as they would be of social benefit. St. Mary's Hospital was not considered a scientifically outstanding medical school, and he received many letters congratulating him on the appointment but asking him if he had made a mistake. He never felt he had and enjoyed the mixture of functions and was treated well. It was one of the most satisfactory times in his life. He attracted to St. Mary's good research people including Rodney Porter.
After St. Mary's he went to Charing Cross Hospital medical school, he was invited by Brenda Ryman and she provided a space for him. Neuberger continued the porphyrin work until 1980 and the glycoprotein work beyond 1980. Discussion of various papers.
Neuberger is asked to talk about specific aspects and where they have lead in terms of science. He talks about the electrometric titration of amino acids and peptides; and ionisation of tyrosine residues in egg albumen and insulin. Paper: 'The state of tyrosine in egg albumen' written with Crammer. The conclusion drawn from this work was that the hydrogen bond prevented deep root ionisation of to phenolic group, and they only became free to ionise when the protein became donated. Internal stabilisation of the protein, it is a field that is still very important.
Summary of Neuberger's work on glycoproteins. He carried out some fundamental work in that area, it is pointed out that there have been major developments since then. Asked if he felt his work stimulated these developments, Neuberger replies that it is difficult to assess this and give a clear answer, as they had not established the linkage between the carbohydrate and the peptide molality (?) Then nothing much happened in this field and then three different groups working independently came to similar conclusions. After a latency period the three groups came to same conclusions linkage of the carbohydrate to the protein molecule. This lead to an explosion of activity in the glycoprotein filed. It was an interesting area because there are so many structure variants. The difference between peptide molality and the carbohydrate molality. Sequence of carbohydrate groups. Factors related to enzymes. Carbohydrate molecules indirectly related to genetic information. Variety within specific limits. Heterogeneity.
Asked what prompted you to take the porphyrin research up in 1946, Neuberger refers to the availability of N15. He then exaplins why he took up porphyrin work and not nucleic acid research. Asked if he regrets not taking up nucleic acid research, he explains that the difference between the nucleic acids might be important in providing general genetic information but he couldn't see how the information could be fixed so he left it! He talks about the level of knowledge about the porphyrin biosynthesis area before he started. He thought it would be an interesting area and didn't know that Chemin and Wittenberg were going to continue to work in this field. He asked if they were going to take up porphyrin biosynthesis and, receiving an equivocal answer, decided to carry on. Neuberger and Chain's research was in competition. Chemin defined origin of every carbon atom by using carbox labelled acetic acid.
Neuberger and Chemin in the US were the only two active groups working and then different groups took up different aspects of the story. Linolineic acid. Initial stages in the biosynthesis of porphyrin.
Before he went to St Mary's Neuberger had been Chairman of the Board at the Biochemical Journal and he continued his interest at St Mary's. Hagden became senior editor, and Neuberger talks about his passion for the job. He also talks about his involvement in editing a series for the journal 'Comprehensive Biochemistry'. He talks about what is involved in such editing work. End of Part Two.
Part Three. Neuberger talks about the Lister Institute. He became involved in 1971/72, becoming chair of governing body in 1973/74 at which point he became aware of the difficult financial problems. It was started with a grant from the Guinness family in 1893 and made money from manufacturing vaccines and selling them to agents. By the time he was aware of the financial situation, the endowment funds were insufficient to cover their requirements. He came to the conclusion that within five to six years it would be bankrupt. Hence he made vigorous efforts to fund raise and describes these.
Neuberger persuaded colleagues to dissolve the Institute. They discuss the London property market. He persuaded Westminster Council to change the use of buildings. It was bought and became a hospital. The Fellowships which became the legacy of the Lister institute.
Involvement in international science, in particular his involvement with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem where he was on the board of governors. He talks about the time he spent with Ephraim Katzir. Saloman. Discovered viruses in pathological agents in plants. Neuberger became Chairman of the academic committee. Interested in various academic faculties. They talk about Golda Meir. The Kaplan Prize.
Neuberger talks about his enjoyment of interdisciplinary subjects: humanities, languages, etc. When asked what he is going to do next, he replies that he would like to read The Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire, and study some Botany. With regards research he would like to look into the multiplicity of functions of interpherons are affected by the presence or abscence of carbohydrates. He woul also like to try some Jewish studies. He ought to feel that time is running out but he doesn't. Credits.