Colin M. MacLeod, M.D., C.M.

Colin M. MacLeod

 Brief Bio

Colin Munro MacLeod (1909–1972) was the thirty-fifth president of the American Association of Immunologists, serving from 1951 to 1952. MacLeod was professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology of the New York University (NYU) College of Medicine from 1941 to 1956 and subsequently held prominent administrative positions in the federal government and at private research foundations. The scientific work for which he is most famous is the discovery, made with Oswald T. Avery (AAI ’20, president 1929–1930) and Maclyn McCarty (AAI ’47), that DNA is the material of heredity.

MacLeod received his M.D., C.M. at McGill University in Montreal in 1932 and interned at the Montreal General Hospital for the next two years. In 1934, he moved to New York City and joined the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, where he worked with Avery, first as an assistant and, after 1938, as an associate. In 1941, MacLeod left the Rockefeller Institute to become professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology at NYU. He held the position for 15 years before stepping down and accepting an appointment as the John Herr Musser Professor of Research Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1956. After four years in Philadelphia, MacLeod returned to NYU as a professor of medicine in 1960. Three years later, President John F. Kennedy appointed him deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology. MacLeod continued to serve as the lead adviser to the White House on policy affecting the biomedical community under President Lyndon Johnson before returning to New York in 1966 to become vice president of medical affairs for the Commonwealth Fund. In 1970, MacLeod moved to Oklahoma City and became the president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, a position he held until his unexpected death two years later. MacLeod died in his sleep while on a layover in London en route to Bangladesh, where he was traveling to inspect a cholera research laboratory for the National Institutes of Health.

 AAI Service History

Joined: 1937
President: 1951–1952
Vice President: 1950–1951
Councillor: 1949–1950

The Journal of Immunology
Associate Editor: 1950–1957
Editorial Board: 1957–1961

 President's Address

"Relation of the Incubation Period and the Secondary Immune Response to Lasting Immunity to Infectious Diseases," Delivered April 15, 1952

The Journal of Immunology 70, no. 4 (1953): 421–25.

 Awards and Honors

  • Member, National Academy of Sciences, 1955
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1965
  • Fellow, American Philosophical Society, 1966
  • Member, Institute of Medicine, 1970
  • Bristol Award, Infectious Diseases Society of America, 1971

 Institutional/Biographical Links

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