David E. Ong, 1943 – 2015

David E. Ong, an emeritus professor of biochemistry at Vanderbilt University, passed away in April at his home in Nashville. He was 71.

Born on Aug. 16, 1943, in Elkhart, Ind., Ong attended Wabash College on scholarship, graduating both summa sum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1965 with a degree in chemistry. He earned his biochemistry Ph.D. from Yale University in 1970. Later that year, Ong went to Vanderbilt as a research associate and National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow.

In 1974, Ong joined the laboratory of his Vanderbilt colleague and mentor Frank Chytil, with whom he produced impactful research in the field of biochemistry with a particular focus on vitamin A. Ong and Chytil discovered cellular binding proteins for two forms of vitamin A, retinol and retinoic acid, changing the understanding of the vitamin’s significance. He shared the Osborne and Mendel Award from the Nutrition Foundation with Chytil in 1983 for this groundbreaking research. Ong continued to focus on the study of vitamin A throughout his career and was regarded as a leading expert on the topic.

After his retirement from Vanderbilt in 2008, Ong cultivated his interests beyond the laboratory, including a passion for the arts. An avid music lover with a broad palate, he listened to jazz, gospel and rock ’n’ roll and attended many festivals and performances in the Nashville area. Ong was an avid gardener as well, with a specific interest in bonsai trees.

The David E. Ong Memorial Scholarship Fund is being established to aid future students attending Ong’s alma mater, Wabash College.

Erik Chaulk Erik Chaulk is a peer-review coordinator at the ASBMB.