Edelman, Gerald M. 1929–

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Edelman, Gerald M. 1929–

(Gerald Maurice Edelman)

PERSONAL: Born July 1, 1929, in New York, NY; son of Edward (a physician) and Anna Edelman; married Maxine Morrison, 1950; children: Eric, David, Judith. Education: Ursinus College, B.S. (magna cum laude); University of Pennsylvania, M.D.; Rockefeller University, Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Music.

ADDRESSES: Office—The Scripps Research Institute, Department of Neurobiology, Maildrop: SBR14, 10550 North Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, CA 92037.

CAREER: Physician, scientist, and writer. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, medical house officer, 1954–55; Rockefeller University, New York, NY, assistant physician at university hospital, 1957–60, assistant professor, 1960–63, associate professor, 1963–66, professor, 1966–74, Vincent Astor Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry, 1974–, assistant dean of graduate studies, 1960–63, associate dean, 1963–66, associate of Neurosciences Research Foundation, 1965–91, chair of program, 1980, director of Neurosciences Institute, beginning 1981; The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, professor and chair of the department of neurobiology, c. 1991–. Member of advisory board of Basel Institute of Immunology, 1970–77, chair, 1975–77; chair of board of governors of Weizmann Institute of Science, 1971–; fellow and member of board of trustees of Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Member of biophysics and biophysical chemistry study section of National Institutes of Health, 1964–67, and science council of Center for Theoretical Studies, 1970–72. Member of board of overseers of faculty of arts and sciences at University of Pennsylvania, and board of trustees of Carnegie Institute of Washington (member of advisory committee). Trustee of Rockefeller Brothers Fund, 1972–. Military service: U.S. Army Medical Corps, 1955–57; became captain.

MEMBER: National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, American Society of Biological Chemists, American Association of Immunologists, Genetics Society of America, American Chemistry Society, American Society of Cell Biology, Society for Developmental Biology, American Society for the Advancement of Science, Council of Foreign Relations, Harvey Society (president, 1975–76), Pharmaceutical Society of Japan (honorary member), Japanese Biochemistry Society (honorary member), Academie des Sciences, Institut de France, New York Academy of Sciences (fellow), Sigma Xi, Omega Alpha, Century Association, Cosmos Club.

AWARDS, HONORS: Spencer Morris Award, University of Pennsylvania, 1954; Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry, American Chemistry Society, 1965; Annual Alumni Award, Ursinus College, 1969; Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (co-winner), 1972, for research into the chemical structure of antibodies; Buchman Memorial Award, California Institute of Technology, 1975; Rabbi Shai Shacknai Memorial Prize in Immunology and Cancer Research, Hebrew University's Hadassah Medical School, 1977; Regents Medal of Excellence, New York State, 1984; Hans Neurath Prize, University of Washington, 1986; Sesquicentennial Memorial Award, National Library of Medicine, 1986; Cécile and Oskar Vogt Award, University of Dusseldorf, 1988; Distinguished Graduate Award, University of Pennsylvania, 1990; Personality of the Year award, Paris, 1990; Warren Triennial Prize, Massachusetts General Hospital, 1992; Jiménez Díaz Memorial Prize, Fundación Conchita Rábago de Jiménez Díaz (Madrid, Spain), 1999; C.U. Ariens-Kappers Medal, Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, 1999; Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic, 1999; Medaille de la Ville de Paris, 2002; Cátedra Santiago Grisolía Prize (Valencia, Spain), 2003; Caianiello Memorial International Award, INNS, 2003; Calabria Award, Italy, 2003. Honorary D.Sc. from University of Pennsylvania, 1973, Ursinus College, 1974, Gustavus Adolphus College, 1975, Williams College, 1976, Georgetown University, 1989, Tulane University, 1991, Adelphi University, 1995, University of Miami, 1995, and University of Minnesota, 2000; honorary M.D. from University of Siena (Italy), 1974, and Universidad de A Caruña, Spain, 2003; Albert Einstein Commemorative Award, Yeshiva University, 1974; other honorary degrees from University of Paris, 1989, University of Cagliari, Sardinia, 1989, Universita degli Studi di Napoli Federico, 1990, and University of Bologna, 1998.


(Editor) Cellular Selection and Regulation in the Immune Response, Raven Press (New York, NY), 1974.

Antikorperstruktur, ein Schlüssel für das Verständnis der Mechanismen selektiver Immunität (title means "Antibody Structure, a Key to the Mechanisms of Selective Immunity"), Akademie der Wissenschaft und der Literatur (Mainz, Germany), 1974.

(With V.B. Mountcastle) The Mindful Brain: Cortical Organization and the Group-selective Theory of Higher Brain Function, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1978.

(Editor, with W. Einar Gall and W. Maxwell Cowan) Dynamic Aspects of Neocortical Function, Wiley (New York, NY), 1984.

(With Jean-Paul Thiery) The Cell in Contact: Adhesions and Junctions as Morphogenetic Determinants, Wiley (New York, NY), 1985.

(Editor, with W. Einar Gall and W. Maxwell Cowan) Molecular Bases of Neural Development, Wiley (New York, NY), 1985.

(Editor) Molecular Determinants of Animal Form: Proceedings of the UCLA Symposium Held at Park City, Utah, March 30-April 4, 1985, A.R. Liss (New York, NY), 1985.

Neural Darwinism: The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1987.

(Editor, with W. Einar Gall and W. Maxwell Cowan) Synaptic Function, Wiley (New York, NY), 1987.

(Editor, with W. Einar Gall and W. Maxwell Cowan) Auditory Function: Neurobiological Bases of Hearing, Wiley (New York, NY), 1988.

Topobiology: An Introduction to Molecular Embryology, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1988.

The Remembered Present: A Biological Theory of Consciousness, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1989.

(Editor, with Bruce A. Cunningham and Jean-Paul Thiery) Morphoregulatory Molecules, Wiley (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor, with W. Einar Gall and W. Maxwell Cowan) Signal and Sense: Local and Global Order in Perceptual Maps, Wiley-Liss (New York, NY), 1990.

Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1992.

(With Giulio Tononi) A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor, with Jean-Pierre Changeux) The Brain, Transaction Publishers (New Brunswick, NJ), 2001.

Wider than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2004.

Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2006.

Also contributor to How We Know, Harper & Row (San Francisco, CA), 1985.

SIDELIGHTS: Gerald M. Edelman is a physician, professor, and Nobel Prize recipient in the field of immunology whose main interest has been to study the human mind and consciousness. In his 1992 book, Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind, the author offers an explanation of consciousness with a reworking of his theory of neuronal group selection (TNGS) and its implications. According to BioScience contributor Ralph M. Siegel, the author's approach "takes a middle ground between the genetically predetermined brain as a machine and a brain entirely modified by experience." Siegel went on to note that the author favors a biological model of the brain and consciousness; he bases much of his theory on the idea of "selectionism," as first expounded by Charles Darwin. Abram Amsel, writing in the American Journal of Psychology, commented that the book "reads like a detective novel: All the clues are carefully laid out and, until the end, each is rejected as a solution to the crime."

In Neural Darwinism: The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection the author explores how the neural circuitry of animals is formed and organized. "It should be read by neurobiologists, developmental biologists, the cognitive cognoscenti—including the artificial intelligentsia—and by all those hopeful technologists who are flocking to the banner of neural-like networks as an alternative way of shaping up smart machines," suggested William H. Calvin in his Science review

Edelman teamed up with Giulio Tononi Basic to write A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination. Basing much of their observations on their use of computational modeling of brain function, the authors focus on their theory of how neuronal networks become thoughts and "feelings." In Wider than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness Edelman returns to his TNGS theory that he outlined in Bright Air, Brilliant Fire. David L. Wilson, writing in the Quarterly Review of Biology, commented that the author "does a good job of introducing neuroscientific views of the nature of consciousness and its relation to brain activity." A Science News contributor described the book as an "overview of consciousness for the general reader."



American Journal of Psychology, spring, 1994, Abram Amsel, review of Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind, p. 129.

BioScience, November, 1993, Ralph M. Siegel, review of Bright Air, Brilliant Fire, p. 712.

Contemporary Review, November, 1992, Maryanne Traylen, review of Bright Air, Brilliant Fire, p. 277.

Lancet, December 5, 1992, H.J. Eysenck, review of Bright Air, Brilliant Fire, p. 1395.

Psychology Today, March-April, 2004, review of Wider than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness, p. 82.

Publishers Weekly, February 3, 1992, review of Bright Air, Brilliant Fire, p. 70.

Quarterly Review of Biology, December, 2005, David L. Wilson, review of Wider than the Sky, p. 501.

Science, June 24, 1988, William H. Calvin, review of Neural Darwinism: The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection, p. 1802; October 11, 1991, Ann Gibbons, "Edelman: Bye, Bye Rockefeller," p. 186.

Science News, May 8, 2004, review of Wider than the Sky, p. 303.

Sciences, spring, 2001, Steven Harnad, review of A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination, p. 36.


Nobel Prize Web site, http://nobelprize.org/ (April 29, 2006), profile of the author.

Scripps University Department of Neurobiology Web site, http://www.scripps.edu/nb/ (April 29, 2006), address from the author.

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Edelman, Gerald M. 1929–

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