Lindee, Chua take part in Assembly Series doubleheader

Science historian, 'Tiger Mom' to lecture on WUSTL campus March 6

Just in time for spring baseball, the Assembly Series at Washington University in St. Louis presents its version of a doubleheader: back-to-back lectures in one day by prominent speakers.

On Tuesday, March 6, science historian Susan Lindee, PhD, will speak at 4 p.m. in McDonnell Hall on the evolution of a treatment for cystic fibrosis, once a fatal disease of children. That will be followed by best-selling author, law professor and “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua, JD, at 5 p.m. in Graham Chapel. Both lectures are free and open to the public.


Lindee, professor in the department of history and sociology of science, and associate dean for the social sciences in the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, will deliver the Thomas Hall Lecture on “LeRoy Matthews and the Cleveland Comprehensive Treatment Program for Cystic Fibrosis, 1957-1961” at 4 p.m. in McDonnell Hall, Room 162, on the Danforth Campus.


In addition, Lindee will lead a brown bag session on “Learning to Lie: Militarization of Scientific Knowledge in the Twentieth Century,” from noon-1:30 p.m. in Life Sciences Building, Room 202.

Before LeRoy Matthews developed a therapeutic protocol in the late 1950s, cystic fibrosis (CF) was a children’s disease — simply because very few of its victims made it to adulthood.

Matthews came to the Cleveland Comprehensive Treatment Program for Cystic Fibrosis following a career as a radiation safety officer for Pacific bomb tests and as director of the isotope and endocrine laboratory at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego. As lung failure is one of the most common causes of death in CF patients, Lindee attributes Matthews’ breakthroughs in treatment to his understanding of how inhaled radioactive materials move through smaller airways in the lungs.

His treatment was so successful that few initially believed his reported results. Using Matthews’ new protocol, the Cleveland facility reported a drop in mortality from 10 percent to 2 percent in just four years. Skepticism vanished after the treatment was rolled out to CF centers nationwide with the same results. Today, his protocol, with some modifications, is still used to treat CF patients worldwide.

Lindee’s presentation will explore Matthews’ life, work and the key role he played in the transformation of CF into an adult disease. It is a complicated and fascinating account, made all the more so in the broader context of the era’s post-war understanding of human genetics, including the legacies of eugenics and the potential for molecular genetics.

Lindee earned a doctoral degree in the history and philosophy of science at Cornell University. In addition to being the recipient of many grants and awards, she is the author of four books: Moments of Truth in Genetic Medicine; Genetic Nature/Culture: Anthropology and Science beyond the Two-Culture Divide; The DNA Mystique: The Gene as Cultural Icon, reissued in 2004; and Suffering Made Real: American Science and the Survivors at Hiroshima.


Yale law professor and author Chua will discuss the concepts behind her best-selling and controversial memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, at 5 p.m. March 6 in Graham Chapel. The event, sponsored by the student organization Lunar New Year Festival, is free and open to the public.


A book signing will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge.

Long before Chua became known for her candid account of raising her daughters in the Chinese tradition, she had published two books relating to the effects of globalization on business, law and development. But the memoir, published in 2010, marked her introduction to a general audience and has sustained an ongoing discussion on the cultural differences between the Chinese way and the Western way of child rearing.

Whether one believes that Chua’s parental philosophy is too harsh, as many Americans do, the overwhelming evidence that her approach produces strong, goal-oriented, professionally successful adults cannot be discounted. Proponents of the Western approach see her style of parenting as one that stifles independent thinking and puts too much emphasis on financial success rather than personal fulfillment.

Currently, Chua holds the John M. Duff Jr. Professorship of Law at Yale University; she also has taught at Duke, Stanford and New York universities. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard College and a law degree from Harvard Law School, where she also was executive editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Her first book, published in 2003, was World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, and was a New York Times best seller. This was followed by Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance–and Why They Fall, published in 2007.

For information on these events and upcoming speakers, visit or call (314) 935-4620.