Tribute to Prof. R. Bruce Merrifield - Page 2 of 2
Merrifield was born in Fort Worth, Texas on July 15, 1921. The next year his family moved to southern California where he grew up. He received a B.A. in chemistry in 1943 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1949, both from the University of California at Los Angeles. He worked as a chemist at the Philip R. Park Research Foundation from 1943 to 1944. During his graduate years he was a teaching assistant in chemistry at UCLA from 1944-1948, and a Research Assistant at the new UCLA medical school from 1948 to 1949.
In 1949, Merrifield came to The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, now The Rockefeller University, as an assistant in the laboratory of Dr. D.W. Woolley. He spent the rest of his scientific career at The Rockefeller University. Merrifield credited Dr. Woolley and The Rockefeller University for providing support that enabled him to devote several years to the development of the solid phase method. In 1983, he was named John D. Rockefeller Professor and became emeritus in 1992. In 1993, Merrifield published his scientific autobiography "Life During the Golden Age of Peptide Chemistry."
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Merrifield received numerous awards, including the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1969), the Gairdner Foundation International Award (1970), the American Chemical Society Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry (1972), the Nichols Medal (1973), the American Peptide Society's Alan E. Pierce Award (1979), the Science Award from Big Brothers, Inc. of New York City (1988), the Royal Society of Chemistry Medal (1987), the Ralph F. Hirschmann Award from the American Chemical Society (1990) and the Glenn T. Seaborg Medal from UCLA (1993). He was inducted into the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry's Nobel Hall of Science and received its Albert A. Michelson Award in 1985. The American Peptide Society has named its highest award for Dr. Merrifield.
Merrifield served in 1968 as the first Nobel Guest Professor in Uppsala, Sweden. He was awarded numerous honorary doctorates, including an honorary doctor of philosophy degree by Uppsala University (1970) and honorary doctor of science degrees by the University of Colorado (1969), Yale University (1971), Newark College of Engineering (1972), Medical College of Ohio (1972), Colgate University (1977), Boston College (1984), Fairleigh Dickinson University (1985), Bowling Green State University (1986), UCLA (1986), Adelphia University (1987), University of Montpellier, France (1988), Delaware Valley College (1991), The Scripps Research Institute (1998) and The Rockefeller University (1998). Merrifield was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1972. He was a member of Sigma Xi, Phi Lambda Upsilon, Alpha Chi Sigma, the American Chemical Society, the American Society of Biological Chemists, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Peptide Society and the American Institute of Chemists. He served on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Peptide and Protein Research, the Journal of Peptide Science and Letters in Peptide Science.
After becoming an emeritus, Merrifield spent the next 10 years working at the bench on several projects. His frequent advice to his graduate students was to never leave experimental research, because the most innovative ideas are conceived at the bench. Merrifield's dedication, courage, and optimism provided inspiration to generations of scientists who worked in his laboratory, and to all who became acquainted with him through his steadfast participation at conferences such as the American Peptide Symposia.
Bruce Merrifield is survived by his wife, Elizabeth nee Furlong, 6 children, and 16 grandchildren. He will be greatly missed.
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