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Vol. LX, No. 4
February 22, 2008

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NHLBI Biochemist Stadtman Dies

Dr. Earl R. Stadtman, senior investigator and former chief of NHLBI’s Laboratory of Biochemistry, prominent biochemist and mentor at NIH, died of a heart attack on Jan. 7. He was 88. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Thressa Stadtman, a senior investigator at NHLBI, who has conducted pioneering research on vitamin B12-metabolism and selenium biochemistry.

“Earl was one of the leading American scientists of his generation,” said NHLBI director Dr. Elizabeth Nabel. “He will be remembered for his love of science, his unwavering commitment to his trainees and the twinkle in his eye when he spoke about the NIH. We were truly blessed to have him among us and he will be dearly missed.”

Stadtman was among the first recruits to the intramural program of the National Heart Institute when it began in 1950. As a graduate student (with H. A. Barker) and postdoctoral fellow (with Fritz Lipmann), Stadtman had already discovered the role of acyl-CoA derivatives as intermediates in fatty acid synthesis and two-carbon metabolism. Subsequent in-depth studies of glutamine synthase established the enormous power of covalent interconvertible enzyme cascades for regulating metabolic pathways and signal transduction.

Over the last 25 years, Stadtman elucidated the roles of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in protein turnover. He contributed substantially to the understanding of the role of free radicals and ROS in disease, aging and cell signaling.

“Earl was one of the pioneers in the intramural program who set the standards of scientific excellence and personal integrity,” said Dr. Robert Balaban, NHLBI scientific director. “His insight and standards will be sorely missed by us all.”

Dr. Earl Stadtman in his office, 2001.
Stadtman was one of the first recruits to the intramural program of the National Heart Institute when it began in 1950. Here he adjusts a Warburg apparatus.

Dr. Earl Stadtman in his office, 2001.

Stadtman was one of the first recruits to the intramural program of the National Heart Institute when it began in 1950. Here he adjusts a Warburg apparatus.

In acknowledgement of his work in enzymology, Stadtman received many awards, including the National Medal of Science (1979)—the highest honor that can be given a scientist in the United States, election to the National Academy of Sciences (1969), the Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry with Edwin Krebs (1991), the Paul Lewis Award in Enzyme Chemistry of the American Chemical Society (1952), the Merck Award of the American Society of Biochemistry and Biophysics (1983), the Research Award of the American Aging Association (1992) and the Glen Foundation Award (1993). Just as important was the remarkable impact that his trainees have had on biomedical research, including two Nobel Prize winners, 10 members of the National Academy of Sciences and several leaders of industry.

“Earl was a dedicated researcher, colleague and mentor and in the laboratory he stressed the importance of hard work, persistence and rigor,” said Dr. Boon Chock, director of the Biochemistry and Biophysics Center at NHLBI and chief of the Laboratory of Biochemistry. “He believed in the adage ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ and because of his devotion and his caring personality, everyone who came through his laboratory considered him or herself a member of his family. Earl’s accomplishments as a scientist, a scientific statesman, a teacher and a caring human being are not easily matched and he will be greatly missed.”

The Stadtman way of training and conducting research will continue at NHLBI. For an in-depth discussion of that way and both Stadtmans’ impact on NIH, visit

Stadtman was author or coauthor of more than 375 scientific publications. He was a past president of the American Society of Biological Chemists and a long-standing member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Chemical Society, among others. He edited several publications including the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics and served on the editorial board of the National Academy of Sciences.

He received both his undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Stadtman is also survived by a brother, Verne Stadtman.

The Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences has established the Stadtman Fund. To contribute, make checks payable to FAES with “The Stadtman Fund” written on the memo line. The mailing address is: FAES, One Cloister Court, Suite 230, Bethesda, MD 20814.

Dr. Kyu Rhee

Rhee To Direct NCMHD Office

Dr. Kyu Rhee, a primary care physician and member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee that assessed the NIH plan to eliminate health disparities, has been named director of the Office of Innovation and Program Coordination at the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Reducing the health burdens of the underserved defines Rhee’s career. He’s been medical director at community health centers serving the poor in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and was a member of a number of IOM committees setting policy to improve the care of these kinds of patients.

“Dr. Rhee has been on the front lines in the fight to eliminate health disparities,” said Dr. John Ruffin, NCMHD director. “As NCMHD looks to support the best new research ideas in this area, we feel Dr. Rhee will help identify what can work best.”

Rhee and his staff will identify and support innovative ideas to better serve the medically underserved and eliminate health disparities.

“This new office at NCMHD can help bring about the kind of change suggested in the IOM report Examining the Health Disparities Research Plan of the National Institutes of Health: Unfinished Business,” said Rhee. “To be successful, I feel our work must be transformational, trans-disciplinary and translational.”

Dr. William Pollin

Pollin, Former NIDA Director, Dies

Dr. William Pollin, noted psychiatrist and former NIDA director, passed away on Jan. 25 at the age of 85. Over his long career, Pollin made many notable contributions to psychiatry and to drug control policy. He was the second director of NIDA, from 1975 to 1985 and on staff at NIMH from 1956 to 1971. At NIMH he contributed to early studies that examined pairs of twins to determine the connection between development of schizophrenia and obstetrical complications and various other neurological abnormalities. At NIDA he was one of the key researchers who changed the medical view of tobacco smoking from an unhealthy habit to a diagnosable drug addiction—after which cigarette makers nicknamed him “Doctor Death” to the tobacco industry.
Dr. David H. Lavrin

Former Research Project Coordinator Lavrin Is Mourned

Dr. David H. Lavrin, a former research project coordinator for the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Aging, died on Jan. 12. Born in England, the son of literary critic Janko Lavrin and visual artist Nora Fry, he graduated from the University of Nottingham in England. Lavrin earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1963, receiving a Damon Runyon cancer research fellowship that year. He had also worked as a cancer research scientist at the bacteriology, immunology and cancer research genetics laboratory, UC-Berkeley, the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago and Litton Bionetics in Maryland. He is survived by his wife, Asunción Lavrin, his children Cecilia and Andrew Lavrin, grandchildren Erik and Nora Hauge, and his brother John Lavrin.

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