Dr. Robert P. Gale '66, L.H.D.'87

Leukemia and bone marrow disorders expert; Coordinated medical relief efforts for victims of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Accident; Noted humanitarian and author

During the course of his more than 45-year career in medicine, Dr. Robert Peter Gale has changed the world’s understanding of leukemia, bone marrow disorders, their treatments and the effects of nuclear radiation.

In 1986, Dr. Gale coordinated the international medical response team for the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.  In the years since, he has aided in relief efforts during other international nuclear incidents -- in Goiania, Brazil in 1987 and Armenia in 1988, and during Japan’s nuclear accidents at Tokaimura in 1999 and Fukushima in 2011.

Focusing primarily on leukemia, transplantation, cancer immunology and the biological effects of radiation, Dr. Gale has published more than 950 scientific articles and more than 20 books. His most recent book is “Radiation: What It Is, What You Need to Know” (Knopf, 2013), co-authored with Eric Lax ’66, L.H.D. ’93.  Dr. Gale has also written for  The New York TimesThe Washington PostUSA TodayWall Street Journal, on ABC’s 20/20 and recently in Vanity Fair.  He is a frequent guest on TV news programs and received an Emmy Award for his work on a 60 Minutes special report. He appears in several feature films including Fat Man and Little Boy and City of Joy.

Dr. Gale holds academic appointments at Imperial College London and the Institute of Hematology at Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College and is on the medical staff of the Ronald Reagan Hospital at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and an Honorary Member of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. He is also active in research at the  Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.  He has served as a visiting professor or lecturer at many U.S. and international universities, including the Stanford University, Universities of Cape Town, Bologna, Michigan and Rome; Rockefeller University; Cornell University; Tokyo University; and Tufts University.

In addition to his contributions to medicine, Dr. Gale is widely recognized for his humanitarian activities. He served as a war observer for the governments of Croatia and Armenia; a medical consultant to Tartarstan; and special consultant to the UN Emergency Disaster Relief Organization proposed by the Soviet Union. He has provided expert testimony to several U.S. Congressional Committees on health policy issues, and consulted for a variety of governmental health care and research agencies at the state and federal levels.  

For these service activities and others, Dr. Gale has been honored with the Olender Peace Award, the City of Los Angeles Humanitarian Award, the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation Humanitarian Award and the Presidential Award from New York Academy of Science, among many others. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

After earning a B.A. in biology and chemistry, with Honors, from Hobart, and his M.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Dr. Gale completed his postgraduate medical training in internal medicine, hematology and oncology at UCLA.  There, he also received a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Leukemia Society of America, where he was the Bogart Fellow and Scholar. Dr. Gale holds several honorary degrees, including a D.Sc. from Albany Medical College and a D.P.S. from MacMurray College. In 1987, HWS awarded him an honorary degree, and in 1990, the Hobart College Alumni Association conferred upon him its highest honor, the Hobart Medal of Excellence.