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NHLBI Chemist Highet Dies

Dr. Robert J. Highet, 76, an NHLBI organic chemist who specialized in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies of natural products, died of colon cancer on July 15 at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.

Dr. Robert J. Highet
He retired in 1994, after more than 41 years in NHLBI's Laboratory of Chemistry. While in the lab, he was instrumental in bringing to NIH the first chemist-oriented NMR instrument, called the Varian A-60. Highet was well-known for his skills in interpreting the instrument's complex signals to a wide variety of natural products. Most recently, he collaborated with NIDDK scientist Dr. Herman Ziffer on substances from the plant Artemesia annua, which is used in the treatment of malaria.

Highet was born in Springfield, Ill., and served in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he received a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois and then attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, earning his Ph.D. in 1953. While at the university, he studied with famous steroid chemist, Dr. William S. Johnson.

Highet, a long-time Bethesda resident, is survived by his wife, Patricia, who worked at NHLBI and NIDDK for 35 years and retired in 1999, and daughters Joan Highet of Silver Spring, Cathy Highet of Berkeley, Calif., and Suzanne Kaiser of Pasadena, Calif.

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