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Science as AutobiographyThe Troubled Life of Niels Jern$
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Thomas Soderqvist

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300094411

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300094411.001.0001

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“Like a Log Coming Slowly to the Surface of a Lake”

“Like a Log Coming Slowly to the Surface of a Lake”

(p.249) 19 “Like a Log Coming Slowly to the Surface of a Lake”
Science as Autobiography

Thomas Söderqvist

Yale University Press

This chapter shows how Niels Jerne viewed the Paul Ehrlich Institute. To him, it was an “ancient institute” where most people went home at four in the afternoon and almost nobody carried on any research alongside the work of standardization and testing: “They didn't want to do science at all.” He therefore set to work on a major housecleaning—to throw aside the traditional German academic hierarchies and rituals that stood in the way of his mission to modernize European immunology. He wanted to establish an institute where, as a younger assistant expressed it, you “could ask any question” and where “nothing was considered stupid.” The memorial hall, devoted to the memory of Paul Ehrlich, was converted to a seminar room where Jerne held an “antibody workshop” with his new colleagues under the heading “Continuation of the Discussion, Opened by Professor Ehrlich, on Antibodies and Their Formation.” .

Keywords:   Niels Jerne, Paul Ehrlich Institute, standardization, immunology, antibody

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