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NHLBI Biochemist Flavin Mourned

Dr. Martin Flavin, 83, a biochemist at NIH, died at his home in Garrett Park on Sept. 29 from complications related to Shy-Drager syndrome.

Dr. Martin Flavin
Flavin served as a commissioned officer in the Public Health Service from 1951 to 1954, first at the National Cancer Institute and then at the National Heart Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Christian B. Anfinsen. He then spent 2 years in the department of biochemistry at New York University with Severo Ochoa and a year in the department of agricultural biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, before returning to the heart institute in 1957, where he worked for the remainder of his career.

Flavin contributed importantly to scientific understanding of the intermediary metabolism of amino acids and the regulation of microtubules. He retired in 1988 as chief of the section on organelle biochemistry of the Laboratory of Cell Biology, but continued his research as a special volunteer for another 10 years. Flavin published numerous scientific papers and trained many young scientists.

He had lived in Garrett Park since 1967. He was an avid whitewater kayaker, skier and cyclist, and was active in the Sierra Club, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Federation of American Scientists. In his later years, Flavin authored a book, Kurt Hahn's Schools and Legacy (Hahn was the creator of Outward Bound), published by Middle Atlantic Press in 1996. He also wrote an as yet unpublished memoir about his experience of aging and of today's health care system.

Flavin is survived by his brother Sean Flavin of Monterey, Calif., and his nephews Christopher Flavin of Washington, D.C., and Colin Flavin of Cambridge, Mass. Flavin's wife of 17 years, Tomoko Flavin, died in 2000. A memorial service for Flavin will be held Sunday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. in the Town Hall of Garrett Park.

NCI's Krutzsch Remembered for Scientific Excellence

By Peggy Vaughn

Colleagues of the late Dr. Henry C. Krutzsch, a research biochemist at NIH for three decades, are planning to name a lecture in his memory in the near future. Krutzsch died in March from the effects of a stroke. He was 61.

Dr. Henry C. Krutzsch
Colleagues praise the "elegant" research Krutzsch conducted while at NIH, particularly his scientific discoveries and insights into protein purification and sequencing while working at the National Cancer Institute's Laboratory of Pathology.

His rigorous approach to science, his independence of thought and his insightful and encyclopedic knowledge of chemistry earned him respect among his peers. His enthusiasm for science, optimism, humor and generosity of spirit earned their friendship.

"Henry will live on through the tremendous abundance of his scientific accomplishments," said Dr. Lance Liotta, senior investigator in NCI's Center for Cancer Research.

"Henry was a protein chemist by job description, but in reality he was more like Merlin the Chemistry Wizard when it came to discovering and sequencing proteins and correlating structure with function. In fact, students once gave him a Harry Potter-style hat with moons and stars on it to signify that his expertise transcended the boundaries of what we thought was possible."

Born in Alaska in 1942 and raised in La Jolla, Calif., Krutzsch graduated in 1964 from the University of California at Riverside with a B.A. in chemistry. In 1968, he earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Iowa.

He then spent 5 years as a research chemist working on fiber polymers at the duPont Co. in Delaware before deciding to study the major polymers of life — proteins and peptides — at NIH.

Originally hired as a chemist by NHLBI, he also conducted research at NIAID and NIDDK. Over the years at NIH, Krutzsch coauthored over 115 scientific papers, including 5 book chapters, and was co-inventor on 18 patents for biologically active peptides. He helped reveal the structures of many proteins of biologic interest, enzymes, antibodies, blood clotting factors, viral factors, neuroproteins and gene regulatory proteins.

For the past 15 years at NCI, he researched the proteins and peptides involved in cancer metastasis. His colleagues spoke at a memorial service of his uncanny ability to locate the active sites of proteins by zeroing in on particular amino acids among hundreds of potential sequences.

"During the year prior to his stroke, he sequenced more than 600 protein samples and prepared countless peptides, all of which became incorporated into scores of publications," Liotta said. "Henry's contributions will lead to smart drugs with high efficacy and lower side effects."

Among his many discoveries, Krutzsch identified active sites of proteins involved in metastasis, angiogenesis, cell adhesion and cell proliferation. He helped purify and characterize an autocrine motility factor, which is used by some cancer cells to metastasize to distant sites. His interest in his analytical tools led him to develop a novel method to dramatically reduce the background for mass spec analysis.

He developed methods to predict the active domains on proteins. Using this information, he designed small synthetic peptides, which mimicked the function of active sites. To improve stability and clearance, Krutzsch created "retro-inverso" forms of the active peptides. The outcome was a series of therapeutic peptides, which reduced the growth of human breast cancer and brain cancer in animal models.

Aside from his contributions as a chemist, Krutzsch is fondly remembered for his skills as a friend and mentor. Despite his intense focus on his work, he generously offered his time, expertise and guidance to friends and colleagues.

"Henry insisted on perfection from himself and his collaborators and contributed deeply to the scientific process," said Dr. David Roberts of NCI's Laboratory of Pathology. "I found discussing research problems with Henry to be a great way to formulate new hypotheses. His direct style of thinking and deep understanding of chemical principles gave him the ability to place our biological questions into a molecular context. This often yielded new insights."

A man of wide interests, Krutzsch played 12-string guitar, restored the 1968 Camaro that he drove to work, and enjoyed traveling and gardening. He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Christine Krutzsch.

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