Dr. Arthur L. Babson
Scientist – Inventor - Entrepreneur
Arthur L. Babson was a New Jersey resident all his life. He was a veteran of World War II serving a year in the occupation of Japan. He entered Cornell University under the G.I. Bill receiving a B.S. in zoology in 1950. He was awarded a fellowship at Rutgers University where he received a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1953. After a post doctorate fellowship at the University of Iowa he joined the Warner Lambert Company in Morris Plains, New Jersey (now Pfizer) as a Senior Scientist where he became involved with medical diagnostic tests and devices used in the hospital laboratory. He was responsible for most of the products sold by the General Diagnostics Division and rose to the position of Vice President of Research and Development. He was a founding member and third president of the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship in Morristown, New Jersey.
In 1981 he founded Babson Research Laboratories where he was involved in contract research, consulting, and the manufacture of proprietary diagnostic reagents for diagnostic companies and large clinical laboratories. During this time he conceived and patented an elegantly simple device and method for rapidly separating liquid and solid phases in discrete, small samples by axial centrifugation. This solved a problem that allowed the automation of immunoassays, clinical laboratory procedures that use as reagents, antibodies specific for the substance to be measured. Immunoassay has revolutionized the clinical laboratory by providing assays with exquisite sensitivity and specificity for substances such as hormones and cancer markers that were previously un-measurable. Through negotiations for one of his inventions he became a Director of Bionostics Inc. in Massachusetts.
He raised venture capital and founded Cirrus Diagnostics Inc. in 1987 in the old Williamson School building in Chester, New Jersey to commercialize the immunoassay invention. Cirrus completed development of IMMULITE, a fully automated, random access immunoassay system in 1991, the first of several such systems. In May 1992 Cirrus was acquired by Diagnostic Products Corporation in Los Angeles, a company that was a leader in manual radioimmunoassay kits. Cirrus and its 37 employees moved into rented commercial space in Randolph, New Jersey in December 1992 and into custom-built facilities in Flanders, New Jersey in 2001. To accommodate the growing company the building was doubled in size to 170,000 square feet in 2005.
Sales of the IMMULITE products by 2005 accounted for 92% of DPC’s $481 million in sales. Dr. Babson remained active in the company in the capacity of Chief Scientist. In 2001 the company name was changed to DPC Instrument Systems Division. By 2005 DPC-ISD employed over 500 people, and DPC and its affiliated companies had 2,554 employees and over 100 independent distributors throughout the world selling the IMMULITE systems. On July 27, 2006 Siemens acquired DPC for $1.86 billion in cash.
Dr. Babson was awarded forty-six U.S. patents on his inventions and has published sixty-five scientific papers as well as two chapters in “The Immunoassay Handbook” and a chapter in “Immunoassay Automation.” He received two prestigious awards from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry for outstanding contributions to clinical chemistry: the Gerulat Award in 1975 and the Van Slyke Award in 1998. He was named New Jersey Inventor of the Year in 1997 by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention of the IMMULITE technology.
On January 20, 2010 he was awarded the first Siemens Lifetime Achievement Award from Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics for his many contributions to the science of in vitro diagnostics.
Dr. Babson designed and with his wife of 45 years, Susan, built their home in Mendham Township where they have lived since 1971. A life-long nature lover, he was a supporter of many conservation organizations and provided for the Cheetah Conservation Fund to add 12 square miles to their protected land in Namibia. In 2006 he became a Director of CCF. In 2007 the Art Babson Guest House was donated to CCF and he celebrated his 80th birthday in Namibia at a surprise party with 35 of his and Susan’s friends. He retired from Siemens in October, 2014.
Dr. Babson is survived by his wife, Susan; his daughter, Betsy Babson of Corte Madera, California; his son, James Babson of Lowell, Oregon; and a nephew, Jeffrey Babson of New York City.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, November 30th at 2pm at Siemens Healthcare, 62 Flanders-Bartley Rd., Flanders, NJ 07836.