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Reflections on Career Decisions

HEFNER: Given all of that, and given the subsequent years, would you do it all again? Would you take any different turns?
GOFMAN: That's a good question. By the way, I want to tell you one little thing. When the 50th anniversary of the plutonium [discovery rolled around], I got an invitation and I was a little delayed in replying. Glenn [Seaborg] called me up and said, "we didn't get your reply that you're coming. You are coming, aren't you?" I said, "Oh yes, I'm coming." "Well, we want you to sit at the head table." I did, and I gave a talk. It was like [old times].
GOURLEY: When was this?
GOFMAN: Two years ago. Two or three. The 50th anniversary of plutonium. The Chemical Potentials, the Chemistry Department has a picture of Arthur Wahl, Seaborg, and me standing in room 307, where we all did the work. So, you know, it's like nothing ever happened.

In answer to your question, Lori: There were so many accidents of life, like Juliette T. Brown [not] throwing me out of her office at Western Reserve University. It turns, [she] could have said, "No, no chance you're getting into med school," and I might have forgotten the whole thing and never have gone that route. There was deciding in the first year of med school to try to come out to California and study chemistry. Then this miscerebration in taking the Livermore assignment. You mean, would I do the argument again? The work at Livermore itself?
HEFNER: Yes, was a it a misstep for you to take that job? Sounds like your intuition already told you, despite all these reassurances?
GOFMAN: Yes, I think there was enough to say if you're going to have to count on those reassurances, don't do it. I think I'd probably, on that ground, would not have. I thought [it was] a little more than just a chancy decision.
HEFNER: It's also thrown you into international and national-
GOFMAN: This disrepute?
HEFNER: Into the whole controversy about these-
GOFMAN: Let me say this, Lori. I don't mean about [this] taping. This is just how I feel about these things as a person. I tend to try to evaluate my life, whether it's been worthwhile or not, and somehow it makes a difference to me whether I think it's been worthwhile. I feel very proud of the lipoprotein work. It was good work; we [were] castigated for that work, in case you didn't know it.
HEFNER: I didn't know it.
GOFMAN: All kinds of criticism by others in the field, largely jealousy.
HEFNER: Because that work is still continuing.
GOFMAN: People like Don Fredericks, the ex-head of the National Institute[s of Health], wrote me up in one of the issues of Circulation [April 1993, Supplement], like a breath of fresh air. I get fantastic praise for that work from very highly placed people. I'm a fair-haired boy in the heart disease thing. I'm proud of that work; it's good work.

About the current controversies, I take it very seriously. I feel I made my contribution to pay my way, so to speak, as an individual with the lipoprotein heart disease work. I don't think I have to apologize to anybody. My son said, "Well, do you think you did anything in your lifetime that was worth anything?" I said, "Yes, I do."

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