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Dr David M Prescott (1926-2011)
It is sad news that David Prescott, one of the doyens of cell biology, died in February 2011. Although born in Florida, his schooling and tertiary education was in Connecticut, the Wesleyan University, and the University of California. His post-doctoral work took him to Copenhagen before returning to California (Los Angeles). A blossoming career meant that he went on to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and subsequently to the University of Colorado at Boulder as, in time, a co-founder of the Institute of Developmental Biology. Many cell biologists will recall not only his erudite research publications, but the many books he wrote or co-authored with other distinguished cell biologists. He has a wide range of interests, working in the field of cancer cell biology and protozoology. He was President of the American Society for Cell Biology and the Society of Protozoologist in his time, and an American Cancer Society Scholar. After many prestigious prizes, he was elected as a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and also to the National Academy of Sciences. His hobbies were as wide-ranging as his research interests. He was a man for all occasions, admired and loved by many. Here are two colleagues who wish to record the following memories:
"As my major in Graduate School was David Prescott, he was always there for me but allowed me the freedom to follow my own reseach interests. I followed him from graduate school to a post-doctoral position in his laboratory at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories. He then accepted an offer as Chair at the U. of Colorado Medical School at Denver. He offered me a faculty position there in Denver but I told him that if I followed him there he would only move again. Indeed he did move on to a position at Bolder.
As a second tribute, one of his early post-doctoral students wrote the following:
"In my opinion, the Eukaryotic Cell Cycle was the major contribution that David made to cell biology. In addition to this book, he investigated together with his many co-workers this topic using most original methodologies in a variety of cellular models. For example, with Lester Goldstein he published several studies on "Proteins in Nucleocytoplasmic Interactions". In these studies on Amoeba proteus, they developed a method of pushing nuclei from one cell to another with a microprobe under a microscope. This was combined with pre- or post-radioactive labeling of DNA, RNA and proteins to demonstrate metabolic pathways under different circumstances (all this happened prior to cell fusion methodologies). Furthermore, being critical of Zeuthen's heat shock method to synchronize the cell cycle of Tetrahymena because the treatment introduced abnormal phenomena, David developed a method of quickly collecting Tetrahymena cells in division with a micropipette. These cells were synchronized for the next few cell cycles in which he examined many cell cycle phenomena under normal cell growth conditions.