November 2009

M. Daniel Lane Named Professor Emeritus



I’m always conflicted whenever I see an investigator who has contributed a lot to science make the decision to close his or her laboratory. On the one hand, I want to congratulate him or her for all of the exciting discoveries he or she has made. On the other hand, I lament losing such a talented colleague. These are my exact feelings in announcing that M. Daniel Lane has become professor emeritus at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dan was born in Chicago in 1930. He received his bachelor of science (1951) and master of science (1953) degrees from Iowa State University and went on to graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he worked on vitamin A metabolism with George Wolf. He received his Ph.D. in 1956 and joined the faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as an associate professor. He was promoted to professor in 1963.

In 1964, Dan was recruited to the biochemistry department at New York University but left after five years to join the biological chemistry department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After eight years, he was appointed chairman of the department. He served in this capacity until 1997 but remained an active member of the faculty and was named university distinguished service professor. In December 2008, he officially closed his laboratory.

Dan has had a truly amazing career. He made seminal contributions to our understanding of enzymology, lipid metabolism, adipocyte differentiation and the regulation of hunger and satiety. At Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Dan worked on the biotin-dependent propionyl-CoA carboxylase and later made important discoveries pertaining to the enzymatic mechanisms of this and other biotin carboxylases. Dan also made key contributions to our understanding of numerous other enzymes. One of the most noted is his work on acetyl-CoA carboxylase. He defined its enzymology, elucidated key components of its mechanism and made critical discoveries pertaining to its regulation and structure. Some of his accomplishments recently were summarized in a Journal of Biological Chemistry Classic.

Dan’s scientific achievements have been recognized with his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1982) and the National Academy of Sciences (1987) and being named a fellow of the American Society for Nutritional Sciences (1996). He has received numerous awards, including the American Institute of Nutrition Mead Johnson Award (1966), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology William C. Rose Award (1981) and an National Institutes of Health Method to Extend Research in Time award in 1990. In 2002, he received an honorary doctoral degree of humane letters from Iowa State University.

In addition to his research accomplishments, Dan has been a wonderful mentor and teacher.  His kindness and scientific acumen meld into one of the most well-respected contemporary scientists. He loves to discuss scientific issues and to debate difficult interpretations that generally inspire new hypotheses. Every physician who trained at Hopkins from 1970 to 2006 remembers the “Lane Lectures” in metabolism. His teaching skills were recognized by the Hopkins community when he was awarded the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Professor’s Award for Distinction in Teaching.

Dan also has been an important member of the ASBMB community. He was president of the society from 1990 to 1991, served on the JBC editorial board, was a member of the ASBMB Council and was program chairman.

So, Dan is closing his laboratory. But, fortunately, he will remain the supportive and intellectual resource we’ve always known him to be.

Daniel M. Raben is director of the ASBMB Lipid Division and a professor in the department of biological chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He can be reached at

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