A man for all seasons: reflections on the life and legacy of George Palade

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2012;28:1-28. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-101011-155813. Epub 2012 Jul 20.


In this perspective, I review the scientific career of George E. Palade, the man many consider to be the father of cell biology. Palade's scientific contributions spanned more than 50 years (from the late 1940s to 2001) and were amazingly diverse and fundamental. He is best known for his discovery of ribosomes, for establishing their role in protein synthesis, and for delineation of the secretory pathway. In addition to these groundbreaking contributions, he also developed basic techniques for tissue preservation and cell fractionation that allowed rapid progress during the early days of cell biology, and he and his collaborators provided the first description of the mitochondrial cristae, neuronal synapses, junctional complexes in epithelia, plasmalemmal vesicles, and Weibel-Palade bodies in endothelium, among others. He and his collaborators also contributed key experimental data to our understanding not only of protein synthesis and the secretory process but also of membrane biogenesis and vascular permeability. In addition to his scientific discoveries, he had a profound impact on the lives of many cell biologists and served the scientific community tirelessly while making major contributions to the development of cell biology in three major institutions.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Cell Biology / history*
  • Connecticut
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Nobel Prize
  • Romania

Personal name as subject

  • George Palade