Aaron John Ladman

CV | Video (55 min.)

A.J. (John) Ladman was born July 3, 1925 in Jamaica, New York, to Thomas Ladman and Ida Sobin Ladman. Thomas Ladman owned and operated a retail meat market in the 1920s and through the 1940s. He witnessed the 1929 market crash, the depression of the 1930s and the plight of the poor, and the rationing related to the war years in the 1940s. When Ladman and his father visited the Soviet Union in 1970, John introduced him as Mr. Ladman, M.D. (for meat dealer). In John’s own words, ‘‘It seemed to go over without too much flack’’—this illustrating the wry and clever sense of humor Ladman has demonstrated over the years.

Ladman grew up in Whitestone and Flushing, New York. He attended elementary school in Whitestone, secondary school in Bayside, New York, and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, for the 1942–43 academic year. After 2 years (1944–46) in the military, Ladman returned to college at New York University, from which he received the A.B. degree in 1947. Following completion of his undergraduate education, he spent some time (1947–48) as a research assistant at the Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine. He returned to this renowned research facility for seven summers between 1949 and 1959. After about a year in research at the Jackson Laboratory, Ladman attended graduate school at the University of Cincinnati (1948–49) and then transferred to the University of Indiana at Bloomington, from which he received his Ph.D. degree in 1952. At both institutions Ladman was a teaching fellow in anatomy.

From 1952–61 Ladman was at Harvard University, where he held the titles research fellow in anatomy (1952–55), research fellow of the American Cancer Society (1952–55), and associate in anatomy (1955–61). This was a tremendously productive period in Ladman’s career. He not only published a number of papers but investigated topics as wide ranging as (1) the synthesis, storage, and release of gonadotropin, (2) the effects of gonadotropin on the adrenal cortex, testis, and spermatozoa release, (3) the structure/function and selected histochemistry of the pituitary, and (4) light and/or ultrastructural studies of mitochondria, choroid plexus, the retina, and the inner ear.

This work was carried out in collaboration with many individuals at Harvard, including George B. Wislocki. Ladman regarded Wislocki, who was the chairman of anatomy at Harvard at the time, as his mentor. In addition, Ladman developed many strong and lifelong friendships with many prominent anatomists while at Harvard.

In 1961 Ladman became an associate professor in anatomy at the University of Tennessee. From 1962–64 he held a research career development award from the USPHS. While at Tennessee he continued work begun at Harvard and furthered his teaching interests, primarily in histology. He spent the summer of 1964 as a visiting associate professor at Yale University.

The fall of 1964 found Ladman entering a new and exciting period of his professional life when he was hired at the new School of Medicine at the University of New Mexico. He was one of the earliest faculty (hired at the rank of professor), and he was the founding chairman of the Department of Anatomy. Initially the department was housed in a structure occupied, in an earlier time, by the Tuonella Mortuary, and the Medical School and some of the classrooms were located in an old 7UP bottling plant. Initially, Ladman was the entire department. However, he soon recruited excellent faculty, all of whom would make important contributions to the development of this new school. Some, however, would have especially important roles; for example, Leonard M. Napolitano (Ladman’s first recruit) would later serve as dean of the School of Medicine, and his fifth recruit, Robert O. Kelley, would succeed him as chairman in 1981.

Ladman was a central player in the formative years of the School of Medicine at New Mexico. He developed and nurtured a fine Department of Anatomy and served on many School of Medicine committees. Since the school was started as a 2 year program but expanded to a 4 year program after about 2 or 3 years, there were many important duties for the new chairs and the developing departments to perform in the early years. Ladman was also very involved in faculty development in his department. He encouraged research, assisted in the development of writing skills, fostered an interest in editing and editorial skills, and nurtured excellence in teaching.

In April of 1968, Ladman was appointed the sixth managing editor of The Anatomical Record. Soon thereafter he enumerated his objectives for the journal: (1) to publish manuscripts in a timely fashion, (2) to broaden the scope and expertise of the editorial board, (3) to broaden the involvement of anatomists in the journal, and (4) to identify The Anatomical Record as a premier journal in the anatomical sciences. He significantly enlarged the editorial board and utilized a long list of external reviewers.

In addition to his significant editorial responsibilities, Ladman continued his research on a variety of topics, such as reproductive biology, the biology of cancer cells, the retina, and the structure of macrophages in smokers and nonsmokers. He taught in histology and cell biology and in portions of gross anatomy, particularly on the thoracic and abdominal cavities. On top of the service work to his institution and to the AAA as managing editor of The Anatomical Record, Ladman served on NIH committees and on the High Voltage EM Committee in Boulder, Colorado. From 1967–69 he was an associate editor for The Journal of Morphology, and he served as an associate editor of The Anatomical Record for about 2 years before assuming the helm.

After a long and successful period at New Mexico, Ladman became professor of anatomy (1981–94) at Hahnemann; he also served as dean of the School of Allied Health Professions from 1981–86. He continued his editorial duties with characteristic enthusiasm and skill. While at Hahnemann, Ladman served in numerous committees and was an editorial consultant to BIOSIS (1986–92).  Throughout his career,Ladman has held memberships and elected office in a number of professional organization including but now limited to the American Association of Anatomists, Electron Microscopic Society of America, Association of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Neurobiology Chair Persons, and the Council of Biology Editors. Ladman became professor of anatomy and neurobiology (1994) in the combined Medical College of Pennsylvania/Hahnemann University Medical School and adjunctprofessor of anatomy and neurobiology (1995–96), and he holds the same title (1996–present) at Allegheny University (the umbrella name of MCP/Hahnemann).

Ladman’s enthusiasm for and dedication to The Anatomical Record has been exemplary. At 30 years as editor, his services encompasses, almost literally, an entire career. This level of stewardship is totally unprecedented in the entire history of the journals owned by the American Association of Anatomists. He has given of his time and energy through good times and in tedious times, always attentive to thelong-term success of the journal. He focused on attracting and publishing timely papers, making modifications that would improve the journal and increase its impact, and working with his various boards to make other changes over the years. It is the collective view of those who have had the privilege of working with John that he has really enjoyed the job. The AAA is profoundly grateful to John Ladman for his outstanding service as editor of The Anatomical Record and for his active and valuable participation in our Association.

Republished with permission from The Anatomical Record 253: 67-69 (1998)

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