Aug. 15, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 19

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    New lectureship created in University’s Institute for Biophysical Dynamics

    By Catherine Gianaro
    Medical Center Public Affairs

    Alumnus Attallah Kappas (M.D.,’50) recently established the Frederick Seitz Lectureship in the University’s Institute for Biophysical Dynamics in honor of this eminent physicist, who was both his friend and colleague.

    “In his personal qualities, his professional career and the leadership positions he has held, Dr. Seitz singularly reflects the goals and aspirations of Chicago’s new Institute for Biophysical Dynamics,” said Kappas.

    The IBD, which is devoted to the study of converging developments in the biological and physical sciences, will be the centerpiece for the University’s new Interdivisional Research Building, currently under construction. The new building, scheduled for completion in 2004, will bring scientists from the biological sciences, the medical school and the physical sciences under one roof to promote interdisciplinary collaboration.

    Both the newly endowed lectureship and the IBD share the same collaborative spirit between the biological and physical sciences. Teams of IBD researchers, theoreticians and computational investigators work in a scientific culture of fluid and intensive exchange across disciplines and among individual laboratories. This coordinated effort will provide paths for new insights developed at the laboratory bench to influence endeavors as diverse as molecular-based computing and the treatment of illnesses.

    Beginning this fall, the Seitz Lectureship series will help advance this exchange of ideas by featuring national figures whose careers and interests span the scientific spectrum. In conjunction with each lecture, which will be open to the public, the IBD will host a reception that will allow the guest speakers ample time to meet with students, faculty and visitors.

    “The IBD faculty is extremely enthusiastic about establishing the Seitz Lectureship,” said Anthony Kossiakoff, Chairman of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and co-director of the IBD. “It is particularly appropriate since Dr. Seitz himself gravitated from a background in physics to biological research.”

    For more than 50 years, Seitz participated in the evolution of solid-state physics, contributing significantly to the understanding of quantum mechanics, defect properties of solids, radiation damage, color centers and transport properties of solids. His 1940 textbook Modern Theory of Solids indoctrinated generations of students into the field.

    He also has served as president of Rockefeller University and of the National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science.

    A distinguished scientist in his own right, Kappas, who earned a medical degree from Chicago in 1950, is the Sherman Fairchild professor and head of the Laboratory of Pharmacology at Rockefeller University. Kappas served on the Chicago faculty in the late 1950s and 1960s and is past vice president for medical affairs and physician-in-chief at Rockefeller University.