Featured Alumni

Dr. Alejandro Alex Zaffaroni

One of the most distinguished graduates from the University of Rochester is Dr. Alejandro Alex Zaffaroni, who earned his PhD in 1949 from the Department of Biochemistry, and completed his NIH Fellowship (FLW) here in 1951. When people use the patch or the Pill or if they use any controlled-release medications, they are using innovations that Dr. Zaffaroni invented or helped create.

Dr. Zaffaroni attended the University of Rochester on a Fulbright Scholarship, where he invented a paper chromatography technique to separate and track steroids – a technique that became widely used in the synthesis of steroids. This work uniquely prepared him in 1951 to join a Mexican company named Syntex, which had recently succeeded in synthesizing the steroid cortisone. Dr. Zaffaroni’s focus at Syntex was extracting the plant steroid diosgenin from Mexican yams for conversion into human steroid hormones. Not only was he successful in this endeavor, but he dramatically improved the process for collecting the raw materials. As Dr. Arthur Kornberg(M.D.,1941, University of Rochester) reflected in his book The Golden Helix, Alex had recruited local laborers and imbued them with the team spirit to advance the technology by their efforts. By applying the scientific insights acquired in his graduate research at Rochester, he had made a real impact on a practical problem. read full article

We note with sadness that Dr. Zaffaroni passed away on March 1 in Atherton, California. Please see this article for details.

Dr. Charles W. Bishop

A Marriage in Science: Bishop (left) poses with his wife, the late Beverly Petterson Bishop, and Michael Tanenhaus, who holds the professorship the couple endowed. (Photo: University Communications)

Dr. Charles W. Bishop obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Chemistry from Syracuse University. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1946 at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, under the supervision of Eugene Roberts, Ph.D., and with suggestions from Walter R. Bloor, Ph.D., Department of Biochemistry. His thesis is titled Some aspects of carbohydrate metabolism in normal animals and in animals poisoned with uranyl nitrate, uranium tetrachloride, hydrogen fluoride, and alloxan. His thesis was based on work performed for the Manhattan Project, and appears in Division VI of the Manhattan Project Technical Series, as part of the contribution of the University of Rochester.

Dr. Bishop joined the University of Buffalo School of Medicine in 1947 as an instructor in biochemistry and medicine. In 1955, he was awarded a National Institutes of Health fellowship to study at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. On his return, he expanded his earlier research into the cause of gout to the metabolism of red blood cells and blood preservation. He also was head of the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory at Buffalo General Medical Center.

Dr. Bishop founded the Blood Information Service and published more than 65 research papers, along with co-editing the book, “The Red Blood Cell.” Syracuse University presented him with the Dean of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2004 and the Syracuse University Club of Western New York named him a Distinguished Alumni in 2006.

He was a member of the American Chemical Society, American Physiological Society, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. An emeritus professor of medicine at the University at Buffalo, Bishop died January 11, 2014 in his home after living with prostate cancer for more than a decade.

In 2008 Charles and his wife Beverly endowed the Beverly Petterson Bishop and Charles W. Bishop Professorship, currently held by Michael K. Tanenhaus, Ph.D, Professor in the Departments of Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Linguistics, and Director, Center for Language Sciences. Beverly Petterson Bishop received a master’s degree (1946) in psychology at the University of Rochester. We were pleased to see both Charles and Beverly mentioned in the recent May-June 2014 issue of the Rochester Review in a wonderful tribute.

Dr. Chul S. Hyun

Mikyong Kim Hyun ’82, Chul Hyun ’83M (PhD), and their daughter, Sarah, often travel to sites around the world as part of Chul’s interest in running marathons. (Photo: Christopher Lane/AP Images for Rochester Review)

Dr. Chul S. Hyun obtained his undergraduate degree in Biophysics from The Johns Hopkins University in 1977. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in Biophysics in 1982 at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, under the supervision of George A. Kimmich, Ph.D., Department of Radiation Biology and Biophysics. His thesis is titled Action of Cholera Toxin in the Intestinal Epithelial Cells. His research training was further enriched in a postdoctoral fellowship in gastrointestinal physiology at the University of Chicago School of Medicine. After earning an M.D. from the University of Miami School of Medicine, he completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center. Subsequently, he completed a Gastroenterology and Liver Fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine.

He served for four years as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Stony Brook University Health Sciences Center. Since April 1994, Dr. Hyun has led a private practice in two locations- Manhattan and Englewood, NJ. His clinical practice is focused around clinical care of patients with all aspects of gastrointestinal and liver diseases. He has maintained an active practice with a focus on patients with chronic Hepatitis B infection and its complications.

We were pleased to see him mentioned in the recent March-April 2014 issue of the Rochester Review for his extraordinary achievements running marathons.

Dr. Vincent du Vigneaud

Vincent du Vigneaud (1901-1978)

Vincent du Vigneaud (1901-1978) received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry (formerly known as Vital Economics) in 1927 at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, studying the sulfur component of insulin. Dr. du Vigneaud performed postdoctoral research with the famous John Jacob Abel at The Johns Hopkins University Medical School (1927-1928), at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Dresden Germany, working with Max Bergmann, and at the University of Edinburgh Medical School. He returned to the U.S. to take successive positions as Professor at the University of Illinois and then at George Washington University Medical School. In 1932 he became a Professor at the Cornell Medical School, in New York City, where he remained until retiring to emeritus status in 1967. At that time, he accepted an invitation from Dr. Harold Scheraga, head of the Chemistry Department at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, to move his laboratory to Ithaca. He continued to do research in the Cornell Chemistry Research Building until suffering a stroke in 1974.

Dr. du Vigneaud’s long career was spent studying the biochemistry of sulfur-containing hormones and hormones of the pituitary gland. He was also interested in intermediary metabolism of amino acids, synthesis of small peptides, and the role of small sulfur-containing compounds, such as cystine, homocystine, and methionine in trans-methylation and sulphuration reactions. Dr. du Vigneaud’s many honors and awards include the Williard Gibbs Award from the American Chemical Society (1955) and the 1955 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the isolation, structural identification, and total synthesis of the cyclic peptide, oxytocin. The American Peptide Society bestows a Vincent du Vigneaud Award annually on worthy protein chemists who are leaders in the field. Dr. du Vignead’s daughter, Dr. Marylin Renée Brown, M.D., Professor in the department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester, has initiated and supported the University of Rochester’s Vincent du Vigneaud award in memory of her father.

Read Dr. du Vigneaud’s Nobel Lecture

Read Dr. du Vigneaud’s National Academy of Sciences Memoir