The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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An Oral History of the Linus Pauling Institute. August - December 2011

An Oral History of the Linus Pauling Institute

Six interviews with Steve Lawson, conducted by Chris Petersen.

August - December 2011

Location:  Valley Library, Oregon State University.

The Linus Pauling Institute was founded in 1973 by Linus Pauling and two colleagues, and was originally located near the campus of Stanford University. Primarily devoted to exploring Pauling's controversial ideas on the health benefits of large doses of vitamin C, the Institute gradually developed a broad and eclectic research agenda that included work on superconductivity, molecular evolution, and metabolic profiling. Consistently hamstrung by financial woes and further embattled by personnel disputes that resulted in legal actions, the Institute was on the brink of closure by the time of Pauling's death in 1994. Buoyed by a handful of timely donations and the administrative acumen of Pauling's eldest son, Linus Pauling Jr., the Institute managed to stay afloat and, in 1996, relocated to Oregon State University. Today the Linus Pauling Institute is a thriving research enterprise that makes regular contributions to the fights against cancer and cardiovascular disease, and to the promotion of healthy aging. Over the course of six interviews, Steve Lawson, an Administrative Officer at LPI who has worked for the Institute since 1977, relays his memories of the Institute's colorful history and shares his impressions of Linus Pauling, whom Lawson knew as a colleague and as a friend for nearly two decades.