Rockefeller University

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Group.png Rockefeller University  
Rockefeller University (48064098757).jpg
Campus as seen from Roosevelt Island (2019)
Rockefeller University seal.png
HeadquartersNew York, USA
LeaderRichard P. Lifton
InterestsFlexner Report
Sponsored byBill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Koch family foundations, Rockefeller Foundation
Part of a system created by Rockefeller money to buy control over American medical life.

The Rockefeller University is a private graduate university in New York City. It focuses primarily on the biological and medical sciences and provides doctoral and postdoctoral education. Rockefeller is the oldest biomedical research institute in the United States, and has dominated its medical life since 1901.

Its first director of laboratories Simon Flexner was the brother of Abraham Flexner, the author of the Flexner Report to Congress. The report was the decisive part of the Rockefeller family's offensive to take over the American medical system.

The 82-person faculty (tenured and tenure-track, as of 2018) has 37 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, seven Lasker Award recipients, and five Nobel laureates. As of October 2020, a total of 38 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Rockefeller University.

It was the site of the 2009 Good Club meeting, a secret get-together of some of the world's most powerful billionaires including Bill Gates, discussing the problem of how to solve overpopulation.


The Rockefeller University was founded in June 1901 as The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research by John D. Rockefeller, who had founded the University of Chicago in 1889, upon advice by his adviser Frederick T. Gates[1] and action taken in March 1901 by his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr.[2] Greatly elevating the prestige of American science and medicine, it was America's first biomedical institute, like France's Pasteur Institute (1888) and Germany's Robert Koch Institute (1891).[1] The Rockefeller Foundation, a philanthropic organization, founded in 1913, is a separate entity, but had close connections mediated by prominent figures holding dual positions.[3]

The first director of laboratories was Simon Flexner, who supervised the development of research capacity at the Institute, whose staff made major discoveries in basic research and medicine. While a student at Johns Hopkins University, Flexner had studied under the Institute's first scientific director, William H. Welch, first dean of Hopkins' medical school and known as the dean of American medicine.[2] Flexner retired in 1935 and was succeeded by Herbert Gasser.[4] He was succeeded in 1953 by Detlev Bronk, who broadened The Rockefeller Institute into a university that began awarding the PhD degree in 1954.[2] In 1965 The Rockefeller Institute's name was changed to The Rockefeller University.[2]


For its first six decades, the Institute focused on basic research to develop basic science, on applied research as biomedical engineering, and, since 1910—when The Rockefeller Hospital opened on its campus as America's first facility for clinical research—on clinical science.[5] The Rockefeller Hospital's first director Rufus Cole retired in 1937 and was succeeded by Thomas Milton Rivers.[6] As director of The Rockefeller Institute's virology laboratory, he established virology as an independent field apart from bacteriology.


While working at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, French surgeon and biologist Alexis Carrel, whose discoveries in vascular suturing earned him the Nobel Prize in 1912, wrote his bestseller Man, the Unknown (1935), which lent his prestige to eugenics, suggested the use of gas to euthanize lawbreakers, and in a later edition endorsed the German “suppression” of “the defective.”[7]

Rockefeller family

Rockefeller Sr, urged by Rockefeller Jr, his only son, who was enthusiastic about the Institute, visited the University once.[1]:475 Rockefeller Jr's youngest son David would visit with his father.[8] David Rockefeller joined the board of trustees in 1940, was its chairman from 1950 to 1975, chaired the board's executive committee from 1975 to 1995, became honorary chairman and life trustee,[9] and remained active until his death in 2017.



Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationVery influential and rich foundation established to take leadership of global health.
Koch family foundationsControlled by the billionaire Koch brothers, who finance the 'right' in US politics when they say the right things.
Rockefeller Foundation


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  1. a b c
  2. a b c d Swingle AM. "The Rockefeller chronicle". Hopkins Medical News. Fall 2002.
  3. Hannaway C. Biomedicine in the Twentieth Century: Practices, Policies, and Politics (Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2008), p 230, note 46.
  4. "Herbert S Gasser—biography". September 6, 2011 (Web-access date).
  5. "The Rockefeller University Hospital". February 18, 2011 (Web-access date).
  6. "At Rockefeller Hospital". Time. May 24, 1937.
  8. Arenson KW, "Turning 90, a Rockefeller gives the presents", New York Times, June 9, 2005.
  9. "David Rockefeller honored with named professorship: Barry Coller will be first David Rockefeller Professor". News & Notes. 12 (12). The Rockefeller University. December 15, 2000.