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Retired NIAID Virologist DeFilippes Mourned

Dr. Frank M. DeFilippes, 72, died on Oct. 7, 2004. He retired in 2000 after 42 years at NIH, most recently in the NIAID Laboratory of Viral Diseases.

Dr. Frank M. DeFilippes
DeFilippes specialized in methods development and especially liked applying and evaluating new techniques. He served as a reviewer and avid reader of BioTechniques, a journal based on the two tenets "that technology drives discovery and research data are interpretable only in the context of the techniques used to generate them." He is thought to be the first scientist at NIH to publish a method of purification of a restriction enzyme. For this project he was indebted to Hamilton O. Smith of Johns Hopkins University for providing helpful advice and sharing reagents. Later he used restriction enzymes in a tour de force effort to single-handedly develop a physical map of vaccinia virus, which was published in a July 1982 issue of the Journal of Virology. His later work focused on drug resistance using restriction enzymes as research tools. He found that a single GC to AT transition at position 2430, which led to a leucine to methionine change at residue 645 in the vaccinia virus DNA polymerase gene, was sufficient to create an aphidicolin-resistant mutant of vaccinia virus.

DeFilippes was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he excelled in baseball and long-distance running and developed an early love and fascination for physics. He graduated from Brown University in 1953 with a major in physics and from Yale University in 1957 with a Ph.D. in biophysics. In 1957, he moved to Amherst to teach undergraduate physics at the University of Massachusetts. In 1958, he began a research career at NIH where he was known to be hard-working and often could be found completing gel runs late in the evenings and on weekends. For several years he was an instructor in biophysics at the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, where he used the traditional "blackboard and chalk" style of teaching. Perhaps his most well-known pupil was Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe, who co-founded the Health Research Group with Ralph Nader in 1971 to fight for the public's health and to give consumers more control over decisions that affect their health.

In addition to science, DeFilippes loved history and politics and was an expert in the history of World Wars I and II and the Bible. He always started his day with a cup of coffee and a copy of the New York Times. He and his wife enjoyed visiting the majority of the national parks and short trips to West Virginia. After retirement he kept up with the emerging field of systems biology, engaged in a number of home projects and enjoyed his new grandson. At the time of his death, he was looking forward to Dr. Leroy Hood's promised text on systems biology, was developing a real taste for Latin American food and was becoming proficient in Spanish to better assist the immigrant community.

He is survived by his wife Mary, a pharmacologist at NCI, two children, Portia and Paul, and grandson Daniel.

NIDA's Rick Harrison Mourned

By Eric Zatman

Richard Harrison, chief of the Contracts Review Branch, Office of Extramural Affairs, National Institute on Drug Abuse, passed away on Jan. 19.

He joined NIDA in the early 1980s, transferring from the National
Richard Harrison
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism where he administered a grants program for Native Americans. Harrison quickly rose to chief of NIDA's Contracts Review Branch, maintaining a standard of excellence throughout his career. He is remembered as a capable and involved leader who worked tirelessly on behalf of NIDA's mission to bring the power of science to bear on the problems of drug abuse and addiction.

Harrison received several NIDA Director's Awards of Merit for his accomplishments, including exemplary service as Contracts Review Branch chief and work on NIDA's health disparities committee. He was a member of the equal employment opportunity advisory committee and also served on the first NIH Diversity Council.

Harrison was born in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, on the Osage Indian Reservation. As a member of the Osage Tribal Nation, he made an annual pilgrimage to Fairfax, Oklahoma, to participate in a 4-day tribal ceremony. While at NIH, he was active in recruiting Indian youth to consider careers in government by serving as interns. He was a key participant in the recent opening ceremonies of the National Museum of the American Indian, and loved to demonstrate his Indian dances and share his culture with children in area schools.

In addition, Harrison volunteered his skills to Family Services of Montgomery County and the National Minority Organ/Tissue Transplant Education Program. He was a member of the American Indian Society of Washington, Americans for Indian Opportunity, American University/Washington Internships for Native Students, the Kiwanis Club of Rockville, Toastmasters International and the Bahai community of Montgomery County Northwest.

He is survived by his wife Joan; his son John; his brothers David, Henry and John; his stepchildren Deborah Ward, Sandra Meinberg, Linda Hazlewood, Patricia Haga, Michael and David Doyle; and 16 grandchildren.
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