Memorial Lecture Honors Pioneer in Immunological Research

More than 100 students, colleagues, relatives and friends of the late Dr. Stanley G. Nathenson filled the Ethel and Samuel J. LeFrak Auditorium of the Price Center/Block Research Pavilion on October 16. They came to pay tribute to the late professor of microbiology & immunology and of cell biology whose groundbreaking research contributed to making organ transplantation a routine medical practice. Dr. Nathenson’s longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Peter Cresswell, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, was the inaugural speaker of the annual lecture series, established to honor Dr. Nathenson’s memory following his passing in October 2012 at age 79.

In his talk on chaperone functions in MHC class I molecule assembly and peptide binding, Dr. Cresswell noted, “Science is a collaborative venture. Stan exemplified that more than anyone I know.”

Stanley Nathenson joined the Einstein faculty in 1965, and played a key role in making immunological research an area of excellence at the medical school. He gained particular recognition for studies that helped reveal the immunological basis for the rejection of transplanted tissues and organs; these findings led to therapies for preventing the occurrence of rejection. Dr. Nathenson’s seminal research focused on transplantation antigens, the cell-surface proteins that trigger the body’s rejection of transplanted tissues and organs. He was the first to purify, chemically characterize and completely sequence mouse H-2 transplantation antigens.

In his welcoming remarks Dr. Allen M. Spiegel, Einstein’s Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean, observed, “Scientists such as Stan leave a major legacy in two forms: their body of work and the people they trained. Their trainees are a testament to the qualities of the person who mentored them.”

Dr. Nathenson mentored nearly 80 students and fellows at Einstein. The event was organized by his close colleague and friend Dr. Matthew Scharff and one of Dr. Nathenson’s most distinguished trainees, Dr. Teresa DiLorenzo, who came to Einstein in 1996 as a postdoctoral student in his laboratory.

Dr. DiLorenzo, now a professor of microbiology & immunology and of medicine and the Diane Belfer, Cypres & Endelson Families Faculty Scholar in Diabetes Research at the College of Medicine, recalled her mentor for the assembled guests: “Besides his extraordinary scientific achievements, today we remember and celebrate Stan’s gentle nature, his loyal support and friendship, and his trusted advice, which continues to guide us even in his absence.”

A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the author of more than 200 articles, Dr. Nathenson was named distinguished professor in 2005 and received the Marshall S. Horwitz, M.D. Faculty Prize for Research Excellence in 2008. At the time of his death, he held the Samuel H. Golding Chair in Microbiology.

“Stan loved Einstein,” said Susan Nathenson, Dr. Nathenson’s widow, at the reception following the lecture. “Over the years, he had many offers to go to other places, but he could never leave because he found the people here so collaborative and caring.”

Dr. Steven Almo introducing keynote speaker, Dr. Peter Cresswell
Dr. Steven Almo introducing keynote speaker, Dr. Peter Cresswell
Dr. Peter Cresswell addressing the Einstein audience
Dr. Peter Cresswell addressing the Einstein audience
Dr. Nathenson, memorial lecture honoree
Dr. Nathenson, memorial lecture honoree
 

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