Leon Rosenberg

Photo of Leon Rosenberg
Senior Molecular Biologist, Molecular Biology

Lecturer with rank of Professor in Molecular Biology

Leon Rosenberg

locationLewis Thomas Lab, 255
Phone (609) 258-5368
Faculty Assistant
Gail Huber
Phone (609) 258-1894


Research Focus

The medical and health research enterprise: organization, issues, and policy considerations

My research is aimed at a better understanding of the national enterprise that supports life sciences and medical research. Having spent many years as a bench scientist and an equal number as a department chair, medical school dean, and R&D head in industry, I have become interested in the recent history of the medical research enterprise, in the key players (government, academia, industry, foundations, independent institutes, and voluntary health agencies) that compose it, and in the policy issues that confront it. During the past five years, I have examined and written on the following issues: the need for more effective collaborations among academia, government, and industry; the disparate research cultures of academia and industry; the evolving nature of pharmaceutical industry R&D; the priority-setting process of the NIH; and the promise and problems surrounding gene therapy.

Most recently I have focused on the physician-scientist as an "endangered species" in the medical research community. The number of young physician-scientists, defined as M.D.s who devote all or a majority of their professional effort to research, has been declining for >20 years but only during the past decade has the matter reached crisis proportions. If something(s) is not done soon, there will be a dearth of young physician-scientists within 20 years. This will have profound, deleterious consequences on the medical research enterprise of our country and the world. The stated reasons for the decline are many but their relative significance has not been assessed. My colleagues and I are studying the importance of such factors as: the changing sex ratio of physicians (i.e., essentially half of all M.D.s are now female); the declining fraction of medical students with undergraduate majors in the physical and biological sciences; the paucity of medical scientists on medical school admissions committees; and the lack of incentives - financial, cultural, and emotional - to prepare for research careers. I believe it essential to assess these factors, and others, if we are to formulate policy recommendations that will halt the decline and lead to the revitalization of the physician-scientist career path.

Selected Publications

Rosenberg LE. (2014) DNA and other strands: The making of a human geneticist. Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. [Epub ahead of print]

Rosenberg LE. (2008) Legacies of Garrod's brilliance. One hundred years – and counting. U Inherit Metab Dis. 31: 574-59. PubMed

Rosenberg LE. (2008) MD/PhD programs--a call for an accounting. JAMA. 300: 1208-09. PubMed

Rosenberg LE. (2006) Introductory speech for Francis S. Collins. Am J Hum Genet. 79: 419-20. PubMed

Rosenberg LE. (2005) 2004 Curt Stern Award Address. Introductory speech for Neil Risch. Am J Hum Genet. 76: 219-20. PubMed

Ley TJ, Rosenberg LE. (2005) The physician-scientist career pipeline in 2005: build it, and they will come. JAMA. 294: 1343-51. PubMed

Rosenberg LE. (2003) Brainsick: A Physician's Journey to the Brink. Cerebrum 4: 43-60.

Rosenberg L. (2003) Acceptance of the Kober Medal. J Clin Invest. 112: S7-8. PubMed

Varki A, Rosenberg LE. (2002) Emerging opportunities and career paths for the young physician-scientist. Nat Med. 8: 437-39. PubMed

Rosenberg LE. (2002) Exceptional economic returns on investments in medical research. Med J Aust. 177: 368-71. PubMed

Ley TJ, Rosenberg LE. (2002) Removing career obstacles for young physician-scientists -- loan-repayment programs. N Engl J Med. 346: 368-72. PubMed

Guelich JM, Singer BH, Castro MC, Rosenberg LE. (2002) A gender gap in the next generation of physician-scientists: medical student interest and participation in research. J Investig Med. 50: 412-18. PubMed

Rosenberg LE, Schechter AN. (2000) Gene therapist, heal thyself. Science. 287: 1751. PubMed

Rosenberg LE. (2000) Young physician-scientists: internal Medicine's challenge. Ann Intern Med. 133: 831-32. PubMed

Rosenberg LE. (1999) The physician-scientist: an essential--and fragile--link in the medical research chain. J Clin Invest. 103: 1621-26. PubMed

Rosenberg L. (1999) Physician-scientists--endangered and essential. Science. 283: 331-32. PubMed

Bander KW, Rosenberg LE. (1997) Building bridges between academia and industry: forms; foundations; functions. Yale J Biol Med. 70: 213-17. PubMed

Related Faculty/Research News

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Leon Rosenberg is Senior Molecular Biologist in the Department of Molecular Biology. His research is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the national enterprise that supports life sciences and medical research. He is currently studying the decline in “physician-scientists” and what has caused this change in the last several decade and how policy can be used to encourage more young physicians to become scientists. Before joining Princeton, Leon Rosenberg served Bristol-Myers Squibb as President of the Pharmaceutical Research Institute from 1991 to 1997, and as Senior Vice President of Scientific Affairs until February of 1998. Prior to joining Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Rosenberg was Dean of the Yale University School of Medicine, a position he had held since 1984. Dr. Rosenberg currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, the Association for Patient-Oriented Research, Karo Bio AB, Medicines for Malaria Venture, and Hana Biosciences, Inc. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine.


  • McKusick Leadership Award, American Society of Human Genetics