In Memoriam

In memoriam: John Hoover Hash

ASBMB Today Staff
Dec. 18, 2023

John Hoover Hash, who served for more than three decades on the Vanderbilt University Medical Center faculty and had been a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology since 1965, died June 20 in Nashville. He was 94.

John Hoover Hash

Born Feb. 23, 1929, in Franklin County, Va., the 11th of 12 children, Hash graduated as his high school valedictorian when he was 16. After earning a BS at Roanoke College and then teaching high school for two years, he was drafted into the Army. During the Korean War, he was stationed at Fort Detrick, Md., where biological weapons were being developed —a program he opposed.

Hash earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Virginia Tech in 1957 and held a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University. He worked at Lederle Labs in New York for six years before Vanderbilt hired him as an assistant professor in 1964.

At Lederle, Hash had discovered an unusual bacteriolytic enzyme produced by the fungus Chalaropsis. At Vanderbilt, he crystalized and and characterized the enzyme as a lysozyme that can kill bacteria by breaking through their tough membranes. He capped his research on antibiotics by editing a volume for the Methods in Enzymology series.

After Hash was appointed associate dean of biomedical science and director of sponsored research at Vanderbilt in 1976, he began helping colleagues secure research funding. He helped write computer programs to extract data from grant records and the VUMC Reporter dubbed him the “godfather of grants” when he retired as emeritus professor of microbiology and immunology in 1994.

Hash was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1966. He was a member of the National Advisory Research Resources Council of the National Institutes of Health from 1991 to 1995.

In retirement, Hash focused on woodworking, pastel and oil painting, reading and travel. His art was eclectic; he painted whatever he liked, for the fun of it. He and his wife traveled to every continent except Antarctica.

He was preceded in death by his wife of more than 62 years, Mary Ann Hash. He survived by three children and their spouses, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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ASBMB Today Staff

This article was written by a member or members of the ASBMB Today staff.

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