Endowed Lectureship Established at the University of Chicago

Alumnus honors prominent physicist

May 1, 2002

University of Chicago alumnus Attallah Kappas recently established The Frederick Seitz Lectureship in the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics (IBD) in honor of his friend and colleague, the eminent physicist Frederick Seitz.

"In his personal qualities, his professional career and the leadership positions he has held," Kappas said, "Dr. Seitz singularly reflects the goals and aspirations of Chicagoís new Institute for Biophysical Dynamics."

The IBD, which is devoted to the study of converging developments in the biological and physical sciences, will be the centerpiece for the Universityís new Interdivisional Research Building, currently under construction on the main campus in Hyde Park. The new building, scheduled for completion in 2004, will bring scientists from the biological sciences, the medical school and the physical sciences under one roof to promote interdisciplinary collaboration.

Both the new endowed lectureship and the IBD share the same collaborative spirit between the biological and physical sciences. Teams of IBD researchers, theoreticians and computational investigators work in a scientific culture of fluid and intensive exchange across disciplines and among individual laboratories. This coordinated effort will provide paths for new insights developed at the laboratory bench to influence endeavors as diverse as molecular-based computing and the treatment of illnesses.

Beginning this fall, the Seitz lectureship series will help advance this exchange of ideas by highlighting national figures whose careers and interests span the scientific spectrum. In conjunction with each lecture, which will be open to the public, the IBD will host a reception that will allow the guest speaker ample time to meet students, faculty and visitors.

"The IBD faculty is extremely enthusiastic about establishing the Seitz lectureship," said Anthony Kossiakoff, chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and co-director of the Institute. "It is particularly appropriate since Dr. Seitz himself gravitated from a background in physics to biological research."

For more than 50 years, Seitz participated in the evolution of solid state physics, contributing significantly to the understanding of quantum mechanics, defect properties of solids, radiation damage, color centers and transport properties of solids. His 1940 textbook, Modern Theory of Solids, indoctrinated generations of students into the field.

A graduate of Stanford and Princeton universities, Seitz is president emeritus of The Rockefeller University. He served as dean of the Graduate College and vice chancellor for research at Illinois until 1965, at which time he became the first full-time president of the National Academy of Sciences. Seitz then served as president of The Rockefeller University from 1968 to 1978.

He was a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board and has served as a trustee of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Science, the James Madison Award from Princeton, the Vannevar Bush Award of the National Science Board and the Joseph Henry Medal of the Smithsonian Institution. Throughout his career, Seitz served on numerous governmental panels and committees, and advised major political figures on important scientific issues.

A distinguished scientist in his own right, Kappas, who earned a medical degree from the University of Chicago in 1950, is a Sherman Fairchild Professor and head of the Laboratory of Pharmacology at The Rockefeller University. Kappas is a former faculty member of the University of Chicago and past vice president for medical affairs and physician-in-chief at Rockefeller.

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