As Erwin Chargaff observed, “Scientific autobiography belongs to a most awkward literary genre,” and mine is no exception. In reviewing my scientific life, I contrast the nutritional influences that would have existed had I been born 100 or 200 years earlier than I actually was. With this background, I trace the influences on my formative years in science beginning in high school and ending as a postdoctoral fellow in Professor E.B. Astwood's laboratory, when my directional sails were set and obesity was the compass heading. With this heading, the need for organized national and international meetings on obesity and the need for a scientific journal dealing with obesity as its subject matter became evident and occupied considerable energy over the next 30 years. The next section of this memoir traces the wanderings of an itinerant academic who moved from Boston to Los Angeles and finally to Baton Rouge. The influence of Sir William Osler's idea that there is a time for education, a time for scholarship, a time for teaching, and time to retire has always been a guide to allocating time ever since I was an intern at Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was in Baton Rouge that the final phase began: I agreed to become the first full-time executive director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, a decision that changed my life. The article ends with a quotation from Tennessee Williams that reflects the theater, which has given me so much pleasure over the years: “There is a time for departure even when there's no certain place to go.”


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