Professor Murray Goodman passed away in Germany on June 1, 2004 at the age of 75 after a very brief illness. Murray, as he was known to thousands of peptide chemists world wide, was the immediate past president of our society. He was an incisive and influential force in the field of peptide chemistry and remained active, dedicated and enthusiastic until the end.
Murray Goodman received his Bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College and went on to earn his doctorate in the laboratory of the Nobel Laureate, Melvin Calvin. After postdoctoral studies at MIT and Cambridge University, he began his career at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1956. There he quickly rose to the rank of Full Professor and became Director of the Polymer Research Institute. In 1970 Murray moved to the University of California, San Diego as Professor of Chemistry. He served the University as Chair of the Chemistry Department for six years and as acting Provost of Revelle College from 1972 to 1974. He was recently honored by the endowment of the Goodman Chair in Chemistry at UCSD.
Dr. Goodman was the author of nearly 500 journal articles and served as the Editor-in-Chief of the recently published 5 volume compendium entitled Synthesis of Peptides and Peptidomimetics that will serve as a source material for our field for the foreseeable future. He was the founding Editor for Biopolymers and served this journal until his untimely passing. He also was the founding Editor of the Journal of Peptide Science, which is currently the official journal of the American Peptide Society. He was an inspiring teacher and during his more than 50 years in academia enlightened undergraduates and graduate students about the intricacies of organic chemistry and polymer chemistry. He mentored some 85 doctoral students and more than 200 postdocs many of whom became leaders in peptide chemistry in countries throughout the world. His excellence in pedagogy was recognized with the UCSD's Chancellor's Associates Recognition Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. He served on, and chaired, NIH Study Sections and was a member of many national and international review panels including IUPAC, AAAS, and the World Health Organization. He was the recipient of numerous prizes including The Scoffone Medal, The Humboldt Professorship, The Max Bergmann Award, The Ralph Hirschmann Prize in Peptide Chemistry, The Herman F. Mark Polymer Chemistry Award, The Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award and the Pierce, Merrifield, Prize sponsored by our Society. In 1999 he was inducted as a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Murray's research evolved in parallel to the field of peptide chemistry. His early work examined poly-a-amino acids and oligopeptides as models to understand fundamental aspects of protein secondary structure. His laboratory established methodologies that were adopted throughout the world and he determined the critical chain lengths for a-helix formation of a variety of amino acids. He did fundamental work on racemization during coupling reactions and on the mechanism of N-carboxyanhydride polymerization. Later studies from his laboratory turned to biologically relevant peptides and polypeptides. He was a pioneer in the field of peptidomimetics and was a leader in studies on retro-inverso peptides. His studies on depsipeptides provided basic insights into the contribution of the peptide bond to secondary structure and his recent work on template based polypeptides led to stable collagen models that formed the triple helix at very short chain lengths. Difficulties encountered in the synthesis of novel analogs led him to develop urethane protected N-carboxy anhydrides for use in coupling reactions. These reagents are now used in the synthesis of valine-acyclovir, an important antiviral agent. His laboratory did seminal work on peptide sweeteners and he developed a model that could be used for the design of sweet peptidomimetics. Some of his analogs rank among the sweetest peptides ever synthesized. His interest in receptors led to work on the opioids and very recently he initiated studies on the structure of GPCRs and their interaction with peptide hormones. The breadth of his research and his ability to contribute to such diverse areas of peptide science were the hallmark of his career. He was a leader in his field and could be truly called a "peptide scientist".
However, Murray was not a man who can be captured on paper, his spirit and essence reached far beyond his scientific record and that of his laboratory. Who can forget Murray sitting through a scientific meeting? His breadth of knowledge was enormous. He was interested in the entire range of presentations from the strictly synthetic, to the biophysical, to the biological. He contributed unique and astute comments on almost every presentation and attended nearly every session from early in the morning until the last after dinner lecture. I recall how disturbed he was at the last Gordon Conference when people didn't stay until the lights were turned off.
Murray Goodman was a passionate man who was a fervent advocate for peptide science. He could never understand why peptide chemists didn't give the full support to peptide chemistry proposals at NIH Study Sections and he was as excited about our field today as he was on the first day I met him in 1966. His eclectic interests allowed him to see the great potential for peptide science and he tirelessly advocated for the next generation of peptide chemists who were pushing forward the frontiers of our field.
Perhaps most of all Murray will be remembered as an international ambassador for peptide chemistry. I remember his around the world three week jaunts when he traveled to the West Coast, Japan, India, Israel, Europe and returned to Brooklyn Poly energized with the peptide science he had encountered. His home was always open and scientists from nearly every country were frequently his guests. They all considered him to be their friend and came to him for advice. He was a man of vision and projected the value of peptide chemistry into both applied and fundamental research. His energy was boundless and he provided leadership in both academic and industrial settings. He was an outstanding role model for his students and his colleagues and he was highly respected at UCSD as an elder statesman.
It is difficult to write about Murray Goodman without personalizing the description. In doing so I represent not myself but the myriad individuals that Murray touched during his career. Murray was an outstanding teacher and mentor. He was highly supportive of his students and followed their careers long after they left his group. In my own case, he arranged for my postdoctoral appointment and helped to secure funding. We stayed in regular contact and continued collaborating over a nearly forty year period. We called each other regularly and he often helped my graduate students find industrial positions. His group reunions at peptide symposia were truly international events that grew in size from year to year. He was a man with a big heart and his inclusive spirit resulted in friendships that reached to nearly every corner of the globe. The outpouring of condolences upon his untimely passing testifies to the revered place he held in our discipline. He was a wonderful husband who, with his beloved wife Zelda, raised three sons to whom he was completely devoted. He was my teacher, my mentor and my friend. I miss him already.
Dr. Fred Naider
College of Staten Island
City University New York
June 6, 2004