July 6, 1916–July 27, 1982
BY NANCY B. SCHWARTZ AND LENNART RODÉN
ALBERT DORFMAN'S RESEARCH for more than thirty-five years on the biosynthesis and chemistry of bacterial and connective tissue polysaccharides provided the basis for many medical advances in human biochemical genetics, as well as in prenatal diagnosis of genetic diseases that cause mental retardation. One of his many scientific accomplishments was discovering the cause of Hurler's syndrome, a genetic disease that affects the bones and cartilage and results in mental retardation.
Albert Dorfman was born and raised in Chicago, the third child of Russian Jewish immigrant parents. His father was manager of a metalware factory and his mother was a seamstress. Although his parents had received no formal education, they placed great emphasis on scholarship and instilled a love for learning in their children. Al's older sister was a pre-law and accounting student and an accomplished singer, which fostered a lifelong interest in music in her younger brother. His older brother Ralph I. Dorfman, who was also a member of the Academy, became interested in mathematics and science early in life and had a great influence on Al by emphasizing high academic achievement and kindling an interest in chemistry. His younger sister, Florence