UC San Diego Creates Endowed Faculty Chair to Honor George Palade, One of the Founding Fathers of Modern Cell Biology

November 18, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
UC San Diego has established the George E. Palade Endowed Chair to honor Nobel Laureate and Del Mar, California resident George Palade, M.D., considered to be the father of modern cell biology. Funds for the endowed chair will be used to support a faculty member in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Palade came to UC San Diego from Yale University in 1990 to serve as UCSD School of Medicine’s first dean for Scientific Affairs, where he created one of the preeminent cell biology programs in the nation, and served as a professor of Medicine. He held both posts until his retirement in 2001 at the age of 88. Palade remains an advisor to the vice chancellor for Health Sciences and the dean of the UCSD School of Medicine.

Palade is internationally recognized for his pioneering use of electron microscopy and “cell fractionation” to reveal and define the inner workings of the cell, and is best known for his work in establishing the pathway for synthesis and transport of proteins along the secretory pathway. In 1974, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his contributions to the understanding of cell structure, chemistry and function, a prize he shared with Albert Claude and Christian de Duve.

His work paved the way for gene therapy and treatment of a variety of diseases, ranging from cancer to mental disorders. Along with many other honors, Palade is the recipient of the National Medal of Science, the Gairdner Special Award, the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research and the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize. He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1961. Recent UCSD honors include re-naming the university’s Cellular and Molecular Medicine West Building as the George Palade Laboratories in March 2004.

“George Palade’s remarkable vision and commitment to scientific excellence has served as an example and inspiration to researchers around the world, as well as to his colleagues in Cellular and Molecular Medicine and the UCSD School of Medicine. He is a role model for so many of us,” said David N. Bailey, M.D., interim vice chancellor for Health Sciences and dean of the UCSD School of Medicine. “We are pleased that his leadership and generous mentoring of colleagues will be honored through the establishment of this endowed faculty chair in his name.”

Palade was born in Jassy, Romania on November 19, 1912 and earned his M.D. degree in 1940 from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bucharest, Romania. At the urging of his father, he became a doctor and briefly practiced medicine, including brief service in the medical corps of the Romanian Army during World War II. It was clear to him early on that his interests lay in the emerging field of biomedical sciences. In 1946, he came to the United States to pursue studies at New York University, where he became intrigued by the promise of electron microscopy in advancing the field of cell biology.

He soon moved on to the Rockefeller Institute where he would spend much of his career and where he conducted the groundbreaking research that would later earn him the Nobel Prize. He left the Rockefeller Institute in 1973 for Yale, where he was chair of the new Department of Cell Biology. He wrote that “the main reasons for this move was my belief that the time had come for fruitful interactions between the new discipline of cell biology and the traditional fields of interest of medical schools, namely pathology and clinical medicine.”

In 1990, Palade left Yale for UCSD, where he served until his retirement in 2001. His leadership has resulted in attracting many important private and public sponsors of biomedical research and training to the UCSD School of Medicine, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and support by the Markey Foundation for Graduate Student Fellowships.

Palade’s contributions extend beyond his research and academic activities. He served on numerous scientific advisory and review boards, and was a founder of the Journal of Cell Biology. He served as editor of the Annual Review of Cell Biology for the first ten years of its existence.

The George E. Palade Endowed Chair in the UCSD Health Sciences School of Medicine was funded with an unrestricted gift in the amount of $650,000 from the estate of Joseph N. Roberts, $150,000 through the university’s recent Chancellor’s Chair Challenge and the first lead gift of $100,000 from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation. The remaining funds for this endowed faculty chair were provided by numerous colleagues from around the world for whom Palade was a teacher, mentor and friend, including members of the Palade Chair committee and all 49 donors to the George E. Palade Fellowship, who agreed to redesignate funds to ensure that the Palade Chair became a reality. These gifts contribute to the $1 billion fundraising goal of The Campaign for UCSD: Imagine What’s Next.

At the University of California, endowed chairs are teaching/research positions occupied by distinguished scholars. The university provides the teaching/research position and pays the salary of the person appointed to the endowed chairs. The permanent endowed fund created by philanthropic gifts provides perpetual annual income in support of the teaching and research activities of the person holding the chair.