H. Maurice Goodman

H. Maurice Goodman

I decided on a career in biology back in pre-high school days. My interest in physiology was piqued by Professor Gjerding Olson during my undergraduate years at Brandeis.  Olson, who had been a student of Professor Frederic Hisaw at Harvard, guided me to a summer fellowship in Hisaw’s lab after graduation, and led to my first scientific publication. I had already been accepted into the relatively new Medical Sciences Program at Harvard Medical School, and began my studies there the following fall.  One of my instructors was the young Assistant Professor Ernst Knobil whose teachings and friendship profoundly shaped my professional life.

My thesis research under Knobil’s direction focused on growth hormone and fatty acid metabolism and became a recurring theme throughout my career.  After receiving my doctorate I was elected to the Society of Fellows at Harvard where I not only had the opportunity to continue my studies wherever I chose, but also to spend many delightful hours with Professor Hisaw whose wit and wisdom remain cherished memories.  As a Junior Fellow I continued my research on growth hormone and adipose tissue in the laboratory of Professor Edwin Astwood at Tufts Medical School.  While there, I was invited give one of the endocrine lectures in the Physiology course at Harvard Medical School, as Professor Knobil had moved on to Pittsburgh.  This led to an invitation to join the faculty at Harvard as an Instructor in Physiology.  My former teachers, Professors Landis, Barger, and Pappenheimer, whom I had held in awe as a student, were now my colleagues.

I set up a laboratory and soon had my first NIH grant.  I was on my way as an independent investigator and teacher.  After rising through the ranks to Associate Professor, at the age of 35 I was attracting enough attention to receive tempting job offers from established and newly chartered medical schools.  The most appealing of these was at the about-to-be-opened University of Massachusetts Medical School, where I would have the chance to found and Chair a new Department of Physiology unencumbered by rigid precedents of established institutions that limit innovation.  The new school had among its other attractions the socially desirable goal of providing opportunities for affordable medical education to sons and daughters of working class families.

UMass Medical School opened in the fall of 1970 with a student body of sixteen and a Physiology faculty of one Professor, one full time and two halftime Assistant Professors recruited from newly minted Harvard doctoral students.  The entire faculty numbered fewer than twenty. We had to face the challenges of setting up a curriculum, developing the infrastructure for research programs, staffing all of the requisite committees, recruiting additional faculty, teaching in multiple sub-disciplines, writing grants and setting up individual research programs.  It was truly a learning experience that set the stage for much of my subsequent immersion in all aspects of medical school operations including brief periods of service as Provost, Chancellor, and Dean and an extended period as Associate Dean for Scientific Affairs.

In serving for 36 years as Professor and Chairman I was able to follow my philosophy regarding the duties and responsibilities of a professional academician.   My laboratory was central to my professional life, but was not the only aspect. I continued my research on the physiology of growth hormone and adipose tissue with continuous support from the NIH.  Service to teaching and medical education, to the disciplines of Physiology and Endocrinology, and to the overall development of the medical school were also essentiaI components of my academic career.  My own personal development was enriched by the many hours of service on NIH study sessions, editorial boards, and test committees.  Countless insights into physiology grew out of both teaching, and textbook preparation, and many rewards were received from nurturing the careers of students and young associates.  In all, I have been blessed with a fulfilling career, and perhaps more importantly the love and devotion of and to my family who always ranked first among my priorities.