Robert A. Good

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Robert A. Good
Robert Alan Good

May 21, 1922
DiedJune 13, 2003(2003-06-13) (aged 81)
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota (M.D., Ph.D, 1947)
Known forPerformed the first successful human bone marrow transplant
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Minnesota
Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research
Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
Cornell University Medical College
University of Oklahoma
All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg
University of South Florida
Dr. Robert A. Good (right) at the White House in 1973 with (left to right) Benno Schmidt, President Richard Nixon, and Dr. R. L. Clark (M.D. Anderson Cancer Center). The occasion was the Conquest of Cancer Program, part of the War on Cancer.

Robert Alan Good NAM, NAS, AAAS (May 21, 1922 – June 13, 2003) was an American physician who performed the first successful human bone marrow transplant between persons who were not identical twins. He is regarded as a founder of modern immunology.[1][2]

Life and career[edit]

Good was born in Crosby, Minnesota, the second son of Ethel (née Whitcomb) and Roy Homer Good, who worked as educators.[1][3] He attended the University of Minnesota and its medical school, receiving a B.A. degree in 1944, and M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in 1947.[4] He was the first student to undertake a combined M.D.-Ph.D. curriculum at Minnesota.[5]

While an undergraduate, he developed a polio-like illness that left him partially paralyzed. His mother pushed his wheelchair into his medical school classrooms. He eventually recovered from the illness, but retained a pronounced limp for the remainder of his life.[1]

After obtaining his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, Good undertook clinical training in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Hospitals.[4] After a fellowship year at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, he returned to the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1950,[4] where he engaged in research on the immune system. He was promoted in 1962 to the rank of professor in pediatrics, microbiology and pathology, and later also served as head of the Department of Pathology.[6] In 1969 he was appointed as Regent's Professor, one of the highest recognitions of the University of Minnesota.[7]

Among his accomplishments, in 1962 he documented the importance of the thymus gland, in 1965 he documented the important role of the tonsils in developing the immune defense systems of mammals including humans, and in 1968 he led the team that performed the first successful human bone marrow transplant between persons who were not identical twins.[8] The patient who received the transplant was a 5-month-old boy with a profound immune deficiency that had earlier led to the deaths of eleven male members of his extended family. The boy received bone marrow transplanted from his 8-year-old sister. The transplant was successful and the boy grew up to become a healthy adult.[8]

In 1972 he went to New York City to become president of the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research. At Sloan-Kettering he continued his research into the human immune system. He remained at Sloan-Kettering until 1982, but his tenure there was marred by the discovery in 1974 of serious scientific fraud perpetrated by William T. Summerlin, a member of his lab who had previously worked with him at Minnesota. In 1982 he moved to the Cancer Research Program at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City, where he remained until 1985, when he became physician-in-chief at the All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, and chairman of pediatrics at The University of South Florida Medical School.

He was brought to The University of South Florida by Andor Szentivanyi, who was dean of medicine and an internationally known asthma researcher.

Good was a member of the National Academy of Sciences (elected 1970),[9] the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a charter member of the Institute of Medicine.[1]

Good died from esophageal cancer at age 81 in St. Petersburg, Florida.[8]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g In Memoriam: Robert A. Good May 21, 1922–June 13, 2003, by Max D. Cooper, The Journal of Immunology, 2003, 171: 6318-6319.
  2. ^ E. Donnall Thomas, Bone Marrow Transplantation — Past, Present and Future, Nobel Lecture, December 8, 1990
  3. ^ "Robert Alan Good (1922-2003) | the Embryo Project Encyclopedia".
  4. ^ a b c Curriculum Vitae: Robert A. Good, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., FACP Archived 2008-02-25 at the Wayback Machine, Robert A. Good Archives (accessed January 27, 2008)
  5. ^ Concise Autobiography by Robert A. Good, 1997, Robert A. Good Archives (accessed January 27, 2008)
  6. ^ "Association News" American Journal of Public Health, 1972, 62 (5): 741 (accessed December 15, 2008)
  7. ^ In Memoriam: Robert A. Good, MD, PhD, by John A. Hansen, Journal of Clinical Immunology, 2003, 23 (6): 539-540 (accessed December 15, 2008)
  8. ^ a b c Robert A. Good, 81, Founder Of Modern Immunology, Dies, by Wolfgang Saxon, The New York Times, June 18, 2003
  9. ^ Peterson, Raymond D. A. (2010). "Robert Alan Good 1922–2003" (PDF). Biographical Memoirs. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences.
  10. ^ Former Winners, Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research: Robert A. Good Obituary, Lasker Foundation website (accessed January 27, 2008)
  11. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  • Ribatti, Domenico (2006), "The fundamental contribution of Robert A. Good to the discovery of the crucial role of thymus in mammalian immunity", Immunology (published Nov 2006), vol. 119, no. 3, pp. 291–5, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2567.2006.02484.x, PMC 1819567, PMID 17067308
  • Nezelof, Christian; Seemayer, Thomas A (2004), "[Robert Alan Good or the genius intuitions of an immunologist]", La Revue du praticien (published May 31, 2004), vol. 54, no. 10, pp. 1153–7, PMID 15369160
  • O'Reilly, Richard J (2003), "Robert Alan Good, MD, PhD", Biol. Blood Marrow Transplant. (published Oct 2003), vol. 9, no. 10, pp. 608–9, doi:10.1016/j.bbmt.2003.08.010, PMID 14569556

External links[edit]