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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

Former NIAID Microbiologist Alexander Mourned


Cornelius B. Alexander

Cornelius B. Alexander, who worked as a research microbiologist at NIH for 40 years, died at home Apr. 20 after several months of hospitalization and rehab. He was 84.

“Alex,” as he was known at NIH, was born in Washington, D.C., and educated in D.C. public schools. He received a bachelor of science degree from Bates College in Lewiston, Me., and later entered a master’s program at Howard University. He joined the U.S. Air Force during the Korean conflict and served for 4 years.

Alexander contributed to work on genetics of antibodies, first in mice in the lab of Rose Lieberman, and then in rabbits in the molecular immunogenetics section of the Laboratory of Immunology, where he conducted research for 38 years until his retirement in 2007. 

When Alexander retired, he didn’t want a party. However, his wife and son surprised him. People from the lab put together a book with all his publications and also gave him two books with photos in honor of his skills with a camera. Colleagues recalled, “He was a great photographer and a great scientist. He gave helpful advice and assistance to members of the entire laboratory, always with a smile that was especially big after the Washington Redskins won a game.”

Alexander was an active member of East Washington Heights Baptist Church, where a funeral service was held Apr. 30. Members of the NIH community offered condolences and described Alexander’s contributions to the training of young people who joined the laboratory.

Alexander is survived by his wife of 55 years, Barbara Alexander, their son David and a large circle of family and friends.

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