Dr. Andreas C. Chrambach, a pioneer in isolating proteins and
a Nazi concentration camp survivor, died Feb. 23 after an automobile
accident. He retired as head of NICHD's section on macromolecular
analysis last June.
||Dr. Andreas C. Chrambach
He is best known for refining electrophoretic gel separation,
a method used to isolate proteins by using an electric current
to move them through a porous substance. "Dr. Chrambach was a gifted
scientist whose discoveries provided the foundation for numerous
other scientific advances," said NICHD director Dr. Duane Alexander. "He
was a kind, understanding man who made many friends at the NIH
and who will be greatly missed."
Chrambach first came to NIH in 1966 as a visiting scientist in
the Endocrinology Branch of the National Cancer Institute. In 1970,
he took an appointment as a visiting scientist at NICHD, in the
Reproduction Research Branch, and rose to the rank of senior investigator
in 1974. In 1983, he became head of the section on molecular analysis,
a position he held until he left the institute.
He spent virtually his entire NIH career perfecting the gel electrophoresis
technique he first developed in the early 1960s as a research fellow
in the department of biophysics at Johns Hopkins University School
Electrophoresis relies on an electric current to separate proteins
from a mixture of similar molecules. Because proteins are of different
sizes and carry different electrical charges, they move through
the porous gel at different rates and so can be separated from
In a paper published soon after he came to NIH, Chrambach and
his coauthors described a technique to stain proteins with the
dye Coomassie blue. The article was cited more than 10,000 times
in other research papers, making it one of the most heavily cited
articles in the scientific literature of that time.
When Chrambach began his work in the early 1960s, electrophoresis
was an impractical technique that had few applications.
"Andreas took electrophoresis from an art to a science," said
Dr. Josh Zimmerberg, chief of NICHD's Laboratory of Cellular and
Molecular Biophysics, under which Chrambach's section on macromolecular
analysis was organized. The methods he developed subsequently were
used by many other researchers to isolate and characterize various
In collaboration with former DCRT Director David Rodbard, Chrambach
developed methods to isolate proteins while still preserving their
natural properties so that their function could be well understood.
"Andreas' great skill was in getting people to work together to
solve a difficult problem," said his wife of 36 years, Dr. Birgit
An der Lan.
Chrambach was born in 1927, in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw,
Poland). By the time he entered high school, the Nazis had attained
power. Although he was raised as a Catholic, Chrambach and his
family were subject to the discriminatory practices of the time:
his paternal grandfather and his mother had been born Jewish but
had converted to Catholicism.
To escape persecution, the family moved to Hungary. When Chrambach's
father was implicated in a coup against Adolf Hitler, Chrambach,
his mother, father and brother were arrested and subsequently taken
to concentration camps. Chrambach, then 17, and his brother Max,
who was 18, were sent to Birkenau, a satellite of Auschwitz. By
the end of the war, his father had disappeared and Max had perished
"The loss of his brother was the most painful blow of his life," said
An der Lan. "He never got over it."
Although his brother did not survive, Chrambach was able to rejoin
his mother in Germany after the war.
During her eulogy, An der Lan said that when her husband left
the camp, he went immediately to a small church to give thanks
for having been spared. He then walked along the banks of a small
stream, appreciating its beauty with a new intensity.
In fact, his NICHD colleagues said that his experience at the
camp gave him an appreciation for life that few others had.
"He made every second count," said his friend Dr. John Robbins,
chief of the Laboratory of Developmental and Molecular Immunity. "He
knew how to appreciate good food, good wine and good friends."
Despite his experience at Birkenau, Chrambach was never angry
or bitter. He once spoke of how kind the German soldiers had been
when they arrested him and his brother, said another friend at
NICHD, Dr. Adrian Parsegian, chief of the Laboratory of Physical
and Structural Biology.
"He was able to see that we all share a common humanity, even
as he saw evil in its worst forms," Parsegian said. "He never let
his spirit surrender to hatred."
In addition to his wife, Chrambach is survived by two daughters
from a previous marriage, Carla Tesar of Oakland, Md., and Monica
Kucich of Maynard, Mass., by two sons from his marriage to An der
Lan, Adam Chrambach and Max Chrambach, both of Berlin; and by five
NIAAA director Dr. Ting-Kai Li has been honored with the establishment
of an endowed chair in his name at the School of Medicine of Indiana
University. In announcing the endowment, Dr. D. Craig Brater, vice
president of Indiana University and dean of the School of Medicine
(IUSM), cited Li's long and distinguished affiliation with IUSM
as well as "his dedication toward research and leadership in the
advancement of medicine."
||Dr. Ting-Kai Li
Li joined the IUSM faculty as professor of medicine and biochemistry
in 1971 and was named the John B. Hickam professor of medicine
in 1980. In 1985, he was named distinguished professor and from
1985 to 2000 he served as associate dean for research. After leaving
IUSM to become NIAAA's director in 2002, he was named distinguished
professor emeritus, and professor emeritus of medicine and of biochemistry
and molecular biology.
The author of more than 500 journal articles and book chapters,
Li is acclaimed for his research on the metabolism and pharmacokinetics
of alcohol and the neurobiology and genetics of alcohol-related
behavior and responses. Among his numerous honors are the international
Jellinek Award and the James B. Isaacson Award, which recognize
outstanding contributions to advancement of knowledge in alcoholism
research. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine.
Establishment of the chair in Li's name was announced Feb. 24
at the second of two lectures he was invited to give at IUSM as
the 2006 Mark Brothers Lecturer. The lectureship recognizes internationally
renowned medical scientists of Asian descent, bringing them to
the medical school to interact with faculty and students.
Dr. Linn Goldberg and Dr. Diane Elliot, National Institute on
Drug Abuse grantees at the Oregon Health and Science University
School of Medicine, recently received the first Sports Illustrated Champion
Award at a National Press Club ceremony in Washington, D.C.
| NIDA grantees Dr. Diane Elliot
and Dr. Linn Goldberg of Oregon Health and Science University
received the inaugural Sports Illustrated Champion
The awardees were recognized for their landmark steroid and drug
prevention health promotion programs — ATLAS and ATHENA.
In 1987, Goldberg and Elliot began investigating the reasons young
athletes use anabolic steroids, alcohol and other drugs. Since
that time, the team has successfully developed strategies to combat
the use of anabolic steroids and other harmful substances among
high school athletes.
The Sports Illustrated Champion Award, to be presented
annually, comes with a $1 million grant to fight the national problem
of steroid use among high school athletes. The grant will fund
four regional drug prevention and health promotion workshops across
the nation, and a year's worth of public service announcements
in Sports Illustrated. Additionally, SI will partner with
the Center for Health Promotion Research at OHSU to develop a Sports
Illustrated school web site to provide state-of-the-art nutrition,
exercise training and drug prevention information for young athletes,
parents and coaches.
ATLAS and ATHENA — created in 1993 and 1999 respectively
through two NIDA research grants — have been implemented
at more than 60 high schools across the nation and designated as
national models by Congress, the Department of Health and Human
Services, the Department of Education's Safe and Drug Free Schools
The ATLAS curriculum, which emphasizes the use of sports nutrition
and strength training as healthy alternatives to steroids, has
led to a 50 percent drop in new anabolic steroid use in young male
athletes. Similarly, female students enrolled in ATHENA, which
promotes the same healthy foods and training strategies, were nearly
two times less likely than controls to have used diet pills in
the last 3 months.
Collectively, the ATLAS and ATHENA programs continue to demonstrate
exemplary work in the arena of steroid use in high school athletes.
The Sports Illustrated-OHSU partnership promises to launch
an effective national program to prevent steroid and drug use in
high school students and promote health for the more than 7 million
athletes involved in high school sports.