January 2010

Richard I. Gumport (1937–2009)

Knowing Dick for more than 30 years both as a colleague in the restriction enzyme field and as an executive editor of Nucleic Acids Research, I grew to respect and admire him greatly. He combined the professionalism of a journal editor and scientist with the fun-loving exuberance of a committed researcher. I cannot remember a dull moment when Dick and his wife, Bobbie, were around. Laughter and friendship (plus a little alcohol) were the order of the day. He was very much a scientist’s scientist, who set a marvelous example of how to live and love life both in and out of the laboratory. I miss him greatly.

Richard J. Roberts
New England Biolabs

***

Dick and I arrived as rookie assistant professors from West Coast postdocs in the fall of 1971. Since we shared long hair, an abhorrence of neckties and an interest in nucleic acids, it was perhaps inevitable that we became firm friends and collaborators. Dick first suggested that the newly discovered T4 RNA ligase could solve my difficulties in making RNAs of defined sequence and then took the lead in making T4 infected cells, purifying and assaying the enzyme. By the summer of 1973, we had successfully shown that the enzyme could join two RNA fragments, and the resulting paper got us tenure and launched our careers. Dick was a joy to collaborate with— optimistic, careful, funny, hard working and thoughtful. Above all, you could trust Dick. Looking back, Dick not only taught me how to work with enzymes, but he provided an environment that made doing science fun.

Olke C. Uhlenbeck
Professor and chairman
Department of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology
Northwestern University

***

 

 


Dick and I had a wonderful scientific collaboration that lasted 25 years. I was trained as a geneticist, but Dick’s knowledge and background in nucleic acid-binding proteins gave me an appreciation for the power of biochemical approaches to problems.

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