Arno Motulsky was born in Germany to Jewish parents. He came to the United States in 1941 as a refugee from Nazi Germany, after first being sent to an internment camp in Vichy France. He worked his way through night classes to obtain his GED, then joined the US Army. In 1944, he began medical school at the University of Illinois as a soldier, private first class.He became a hematologist and physician-scientist, initially studying sickle cell hemoglobin. In 1957, he was asked to establish a Division of Medical Genetics at the University of Washington. There, he founded the field of pharmacogenetics. He mentored hundreds of fellows and students over 50 years, including 1985 Nobel Prize winner Dr. Joseph Goldstein.