German-born Arno Motulsky is the founder of the field of pharmacogenomics, the role of genetic variation in response to drugs. The 84 year old is still actively working and is the subject of a nice interview in this morning's New York Times.
Motulsky also has a fascinating personal story. He is one of the survivors of the S.S. St. Louis. The story of the St. Louis was told in the famous file Voyage of the Damned. The ship was filled with German Jews fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939. The passengers had secured visas to Cuba, but when the ship go to Havana, they were denied entry. The ship then sailed for Miami and were denied entry in America (one of the most shameful moments in US immigration history, in my opinion). Eventually, the ship sailed back to Europe and many of the ship's passengers were killed in concentration camps.
Motulsky was lucky and secured asylum in Belgium. But before long, the Germans marched in and Motulsky fled to Spain and was lucky enough to get a visa to come to the US from there. Just after he left, Spain's Franco barred people from transiting through Spain to come to the US. Sadly, most of Motulsky's family died in Auschwitz.