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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 72
PAUL ALFRED WEISS
March 21, 1898–September 8, 1989
BY JANE OVERTON
PAUL ALFRED WEISS was a gifted biologist who worked in the fields of growth, differentiation, and neurobiology over a period of five decades. The precision and breadth of his thought and elegance of his experimental design had a major influence on the development of these fields and on aspects of medicine as well. Some of his early views, which seemed innovative at the time, have become commonplace today. In addition, he took an active role in the affairs of scientific societies, where he promoted interaction between diverse disciplines.
Paul Weiss was born on March 21, 1898, in Vienna, Austria, the son of Carl S. Weiss, a successful businessman, and Rosalie Kohn Weiss. The major cultural interests of the family lay not in science but in music, poetry, and philosophy. An uncle stimulated young Paul's interest in Science. In 1916 Paul received his bachelor's degree and immediately entered the Austrian army, where he served for three years during World War I as an officer in the artillery.
At the end of the war Weiss began his university study at the Technische Hochschule in Vienna, having decided on a career in mechanical engineering. He soon shifted his interest to biology, where he was introduced to the newest