American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
James C. Sternberg, PhD
1996 Outstanding Contributions in a Selected Area of Research

James C. Sternberg is a Beckman Fellow and Emeritus Research Scientist at Beckman Instruments, Inc. He retired in December 1993 from the position of Vice President of Beckman Advanced Technology.

He received his B.S. in chemistry from UCLA in 1948 and his M.S. (1950) and Ph.D. (1953) in physical chemistry (photochemical kinetics) from Harvard University with George B. Kistiakowsky. After a year of postdoctoral experience in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy at Harvard with Eugene G. Rochow, he taught general chemistry and physical chemistry at Michigan State University (1953–1959).

In 1959, he joined the Corporate Research Department at Beckman, where his early contributions were in the field of gas chromatography, including the mechanism of response of the hydrogen flame ionization detector and the theory of extra-column contributions to chromatographic band broadening.

He adapted kinetic methods of analysis to a variety of products, exemplified by the Beckman Glucose Analyzer (1970). Sternberg’s continuing research contributions have resulted in the development of instruments using rate electrochemical methods for the measurement of blood urea nitrogen, chloride, carbon dioxide, cholesterol, and uric acid, in addition to glucose. His focus then shifted to immunochemistry, where he guided the development of rate nephelometric instrumentation and methods for specific serum proteins.

More recently, he has studied low-level detection methods for immunoassay and has returned to separation science, applying the relatively new method of capillary electrophoresis to clinical analyses. Just prior to his retirement, he directed the research efforts of a department active in organic/nucleic acid chemistry, protein chemistry, immunochemistry, separation methods, and molecular biology.

Methods and instrumentation developed by Sternberg and his coworkers at Beckman have been incorporated into the following Beckman clinical laboratory systems: Glucose Analyzer, Enzyme Rate Analyzer, BUN Analyzer, Glucose/BUN Analyzer, Creatinine Analyzer, Cholesterol Analyzer, Uric Acid Analyzer, Chloride/CO2 Analyzer, Synchron EL-ISE® Electrolyte System, ICS™ Immunochemistry System, Array® Protein/Drug System, the ASTRA and SYNCHRON® series of clinical analyzers, and the Paragon CZE™ Capillary Electrophoresis System.

In 1978 he received the Albert Chaney Award of the Southern California Section of AACC for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry. In 1982, the American Chemical Society, Orange County Section, honored him with the Service Through Chemistry Award.

Sternberg has published widely over a broad range of technology and has been the inventor or coinventor on over thirty patents. In his retirement, he continues his active interest in laboratory research as an emeritus research scientist and as a consultant.

He continues to serve the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation as a member of its Grants Advisory Committee and is a member of the External Advisory Board of the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois.

He has been a member of the Advisory Committee to the Dean of Science and Mathematics at the California State University, Fullerton, where he currently has adjunct faculty status.

Sternberg and his wife, Sandra, have been married since 1950. They live in Fullerton, CA, and have four children—Stephen, Lisa, Scott, and Annette—and seven grandchildren.