Research partners: Happy Valentine’s Day from Annual Reviews

I have a soft spot for the Annual Review autobiographies. I open each volume’s table of contents and eagerly search for them. I’m always interested in how our authors discovered their passion for their field and the interplay between their lives and their science. Among these articles there are a few that are written by husband and wife teams—and they are an extraordinary glimpse into shared lives.


I first encountered Leonard and Leonore Herzenberg in their article “Genetics, FACS, Immunology, and Redox: A Tale of Two Lives Intertwined,” published in the Annual Review of Immunology in 2004.  I was quite taken with the way they handed the narrative back and forth, as well as the humor with which they told their story. I was delighted to find them writing for us again in 2014 for the Annual Review of Physiology, and even more delighted to find they had done a video interview!  These two articles remain among my favorites, and I was sad to learn that Dr. Leonard Herzenberg had passed away soon after the video was made.

Here is a snippet from Dr. Leonore Herzenberg about their time in Paris at the Pasteur Institute from the 2004 volume of the Annual Review of Immunology:

…because Len loved hands-on experimentation, I took over much of the data recording, computation, and display (plotting) that was needed. The work was tedious (slide rules were the closest thing to computers at the time). However, it gave me the opportunity to do a preliminary analysis of the data and try novel approaches to analyzing LacZ induction kinetics. Len left this to me. He was more interested in developing methods and experiment designs that would enable clear conclusions without a lot of mathematical interference. This division of labor, which reflects Len’s innate preference for concreteness and my innate love for theory, remains with us even today.

bb-richardsonsDrs. Jane and David Richardson wrote “Doing Molecular Biophysics: Finding, Naming, and Picturing Signal Within Complexity” for the Annual Review of Biophysics in 2013. While the article focuses mainly on their research, it is full of stories about their shared experiences, such as this one:

We spent a large fraction of our lives from the early 1970s to the early 1990s in Fred Brooks’ computer graphics lab at the University of North Carolina (UNC). There we accomplished much of our own research in protein structure, acted as guinea pigs for in-depth testing of their software and hardware, and played happily with the science fiction–level gadgets that explored far-out new possibilities such as virtual reality displays, volume rendering, force feedback, fitting models into electron density, or tugging on atoms to move local structure with (more or less) physical realism. Some things worked splendidly and soon became widespread; some failed by being surprisingly unhelpful, making you sick, or whacking you in the chest (their gadgets never just fell apart)…


In 1989, George and Eva Klein wrote “How One Thing Has Led to Another” for the Annual Review of Immunology.  Their story begins with a whirlwind romance and an intrigue-filled move into Sweden just as the Iron Curtain was falling on Dr. Klein’s Hungarian homeland.  From the epilogue of their article:

As each of us is moving towards the approaching darkness, the sun is never setting over the vast oceans of science. It has been a rare privilege to live and work through the times when the genetic material turned from protein to DNA, when adaptive changes in cell populations-including antibody production-were unmasked as Darwinian variations and selection, when GOD became the rearrangement of immunoglobulin genes, violating the dogma that all somatic cells have the same DNA….It was a great time, and it still is, but it is only the stumbling, stuttering, premature foreshadowing of what lies ahead. We have barely scratched the surface.

bi-taborThe story of Celia White Tabor and Herbert Tabor’s work in biochemical research was chronicled along with their personal history in the article “It All Started on a Streetcar in Boston” for the Annual Review of Biochemistry in 1999.  Among the scientific discussion are small stories about their lives and friendships, making this an interesting read.

We first met on a Boston streetcar in 1940, being introduced by a mutual friend. Celia was returning from research work at the Massachusetts General Hospital as part of her senior thesis at Radcliffe College, and Herb was returning from a concert by the Boston Symphony. We were married in 1946 after Celia had finished her medical training. We started working together in 1952, and we are still actively collaborating in our studies on various aspects of the biosynthesis and function of polyamines.

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.