Category Archives: Obituary

Nobel laureate Ralph Steinman dies at 68

steinman1Ralph Steinman, an immunologist who spent his entire career at Rockefeller and died just days before the Nobel Prize committee announced his name, passed away on September 30 after a four-and-a-half year battle with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Steinman, who discovered dendritic cells with Rockefeller immunologist Zanvil Cohn in 1972, spawned an entire branch of immunology devoted to understanding how the immune system is coordinated and how it learns to recognize infectious microorganisms and tumor cells. His recent work led to the development of an experimental human vaccine for HIV which began clinical testing last year.

Stanley Fowler

A security guard since November 2009, Stanley Fowler mostly worked the evening and overnight shifts. He died in August at the age of 58. Originally from England, Mr. Fowler moved to the U.S. in 2002 and had worked as a guard at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, where he lived, before joining Rockefeller. He is remembered for his warm personality and witty sense of humor, and for his skills as a painter and artist; a painting he created, donated to the university by his ex-wife, is on display in the main security office on the first floor of Nurses Residence.

Patricia Wills-Abrahams

For 20 years, Patricia Wills-Abrahams guaranteed things ran smoothly at Rockfeller’s Office of Planning and Construction. As office manager, she handled financial statements and contacts with outside contractors and made sure the department’s staff was well provisioned. “In this office, we all do a little bit of everything, and she was really the jack of all trades,” said George Candler, associate vice president, who hired her as his assistant two decades ago. Ms. Wills-Abrahams passed away January 2.

Philip Siekevitz, pioneer in cell biology, dies at 91


Philip Siekevitz was a passionate New Yorker. Through a nearly century-long life, he was an active participant in the city’s cultural, music, art and architecture scenes — and, especially, in its science. Professor Emeritus Philip Siekevitz, a member of The Rockefeller University community for over 30 years, died in Manhattan on Saturday, December 5, of a stroke. He was 91. More

Hidesaburo Hanafusa, professor emeritus, dies at 79


Hidesaburo HanafusaAs an innovative researcher, spirited colleague and devoted mentor, Hidesaburo Hanafusa’s renown reached around the globe. Though he retired from The Rockefeller University and returned to his native Japan more than a decade ago, his influence as a member of the Rockefeller community is still present and his scientific legacy in the field of oncology is immutable. Dr. Hanafusa, professor emeritus and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, passed away Sunday, March 15, at Osaka University Hospital.


Nobel laureate George E. Palade, 95


George PaladeAt the presentation of his Nobel Prize in 1974, George Emil Palade was described as “largely responsible for the creation of modern cell biology.” The man whose research played a crucial part in bringing electron microscopy to the study of biological cells was an integral member of The Rockefeller University for nearly 30 years, and his scientific and intellectual influence is apparent in several laboratories in operation today. Professor Emeritus Palade, who resigned from the university in 1973, passed away Tuesday, October 7, at his home in Del Mar, California. More

President Emeritus Joshua Lederberg dies at 82


Lederberg_historicalHis career spanned 60 years, more than a few fields of science and a presidential legacy of dramatic expansion. And throughout it all, Joshua S. Lederberg was valued as highly for his role as mentor, colleague and member of a global community as for his groundbreaking research. At Yale, the University of Wisconsin, Stanford and ultimately Rockefeller, Dr. Lederberg approached his work with scrupulous attention to detail, highly imaginative approaches to problems and lifelong dedication to fostering community. Dr. Lederberg died February 2, at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, at the age of 82. More

President Emeritus Frederick Seitz dies at 96


Seitz“Over a long time, things that people learn purely out of curiosity can have a revolutionary effect on human affairs.” As president of The Rockefeller University, Frederick Seitz helped lay the foundation for entirely new avenues of inquiry at Rockefeller and forged lasting relationships with the larger scientific community to help ensure the future success of Rockefeller scientists. Dr. Seitz, fourth president of Rockefeller University, passed away March 2, at the age of 96.

As a physicist, Dr. Seitz was perhaps best known for his hand in developing the Wigner-Seitz method, the first mathematical system for calculating the cohesive energy of a metal based on the known properties of its atoms, which he created with his teacher at Princeton University, Eugene P. Wigner, during his doctoral studies in physics. One of the several books he authored, A Modern Theory of Solids, was influential in the growth of solid-state physics — the study of the atomic properties of matter. “This book, one of Fred Seitz’s many original contributions to theoretical physics, played a crucial role in producing the remarkable post-war generation of solid-state physicists,” says Nicola Khuri, head of Rockefeller’s Laboratory of Theoretical Physics and a close colleague of Dr. Seitz. “A mere 10 years after this book appeared, the amazing technological revolution started, all born out of solid-state physics.” In 1973, Dr. Seitz received from President Richard Nixon the National Medal of Science, the country’s highest award for scientists, for his contributions to the modern quantum theory of the solid state of matter. More