A Curious Life: From Rebel Orphan to Innovative Scientist

A Curious Life: From Rebel Orphan to Innovative Scientist

by Thomas H. Haines, Mindy Lewis
A Curious Life: From Rebel Orphan to Innovative Scientist

A Curious Life: From Rebel Orphan to Innovative Scientist

by Thomas H. Haines, Mindy Lewis


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The funny, moving, and surprising story of how Thomas Haines—who grew up in the famed Graham School orphanage—became a prominent scientist, social activist, New York City landlord, educator, and founder of the City University of New York Medical School.

A Curious Life chronicles the remarkable life of preeminent biochemist Thomas Haines. Born in 1933, Haines was barely four when he was sent by court order to The Graham School, an orphanage in Hastings-on-Hudson NY founded in 1806 by Isabella Graham and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton. His trajectory is a series of radical reversals: from penniless orphan to innovative scientist and educator; from right-wing McCarthyite to left-wing activist; founder of the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education of The City University of New York, a medical school designed to bring in low-income and minority students; New York City landlord; husband of a successful artist whom he nursed through a long illness; father of a brilliant and prominent daughter. Now eighty-six, Haines is Professor Emeritus at the Rockefeller Institute and the only alumnus of the Graham School to serve on its board. A diminutive dynamo in a bow tie, Dr. Haines recently participated on a panel at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and jogs every morning at four a.m. in Central Park. Above all a formidable storyteller, Haines provides an intimate look at his relationships and conveys the excitement of a life in science.

“Who could have possibly imagined that the four-year-old boy looking out at the sunset across the Hudson River from the grounds of the Graham School would have been able to live such an incredible and productive life? From abandoned toddler, to homeless vagabond, to research chemist, to husband and father, to university professor, to innovative educator, to New York building landlord, Tom has always placed a premium on personal connections and interactions. He has benefitted from the kindness of strangers and mentorship, and in turn he has mentored and helped countless others along the way on his amazing life’s journey. What a lucky life he has lived.”

—Thomas P. Sakmar, “Foreword”

“Tom combines a charming, generous and curious demeanor with a fierce inner determination to understand the world and how it works. Perhaps because of his unconventional childhood, Tom has spent his life challenging conventional wisdom. As you will experience in Mindy Lewis’s fabulous telling of Tom’s life, the world is a more enchanting place with Dr. Haines in it.”

—Jess Dannhauser, “Introduction”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781642931938
Publisher: Post Hill Press
Publication date: 08/06/2019
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 1,148,145
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Thomas Henry Haines is a Visiting Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Rockefeller University. Since 2007, Dr. Haines has been a Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry of City College of New York. In the early 1970s, he worked under City College President Robert E. Marshak to establish The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, where he taught biochemistry for thirty-five years. Dr. Haines specializes in the study of lipids and biological membranes. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from City College in 1957, his M.S. in Education from City College in 1959, and his Ph.D. from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in 1964. Dr. Haines and his wife Polly Cleveland live on Manhattan’s West Side close to Central Park, where he enjoys running each morning. He also serves on the board of Graham Windham Services to Families. More about Dr. Haines can be found online: http://thomashaines.org

Mindy Lewis is the author of Life Inside: A Memoir (Washington Square Press), the editor of DIRT: The Quirks, Habits and Passions of Keeping House (a Seal Press anthology), and winner of New Letters 2015 Best Essay Award. Her essays, articles, and book reviews have been published in Newsweek, New York Times Book Review, Lilith, Body & Soul, Poets & Writers, Arts & Letters Journal, New Letters, Psychoanalytic Perspectives, in anthologies and online. She teaches at The Writer’s Voice in New York City. Visit her website: www.mindylewis.com

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 11

Foreword 14

Introduction 19

Chapter 1 The Graham School 21

Chapter 2 Hastings High 44

Chapter 3 Turning Left 67

Chapter 4 Domestic Education 97

Chapter 5 Fleas, Flies, Cockroaches, Protozoa, Proteins, and Lipids 116

Chapter 6 Turning Points 140

Chapter 7 Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education 170

Chapter 8 Milestones 210

Chapter 9 Travels with Avril 239

Chapter 10 The Partnership for Responsible Drug Information 264

Chapter 11 Real Estate Renaissance 286

Chapter 12 Money, Membranes, and Ideas 306

Chapter 13 Family Bonds 335

Chapter 14 Eliza Hamilton's Legacy 347

Epilogue 366

Appendix 377

Endnotes 385

About the Authors 391

Copyright Information: Song Lyrics and Poetry 393

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