years ago my colleague, Vincent Crostofalo, and I were asked to
write a dedication to David Kritchevsky on the occasion of his 60th
birthday that was published in the journal Atherosclerosis. I would
like to present an updated version of that dedication now. David
Kritchevsky died on November 20, 2006.
In 1958 David Kritchevsky wrote the following as part of the preface
to his book Cholesterol: which was the first single
authored volume on cholesterol that had ever been published.
"Some of the keenest scientific intellects have focused
their attention on this sterol. Indeed, a roll call of these investigators
whose names have appeared on publications concerned with cholesterol
would be a scientific elite".
For more than fifty years Dave focused his keen intellect on the
metabolism of cholesterol and the mechanisms underlying the development
of atherosclerosis, and in so doing, has added his name to the list
of scientific elite.
After receiving his PhD in organic chemistry at Northwestern University
in 1948, he studied in Zurich at the Federal Institute of Technology.
He then became a staff member at the Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley.
During this period he pioneered research in the preparation, detection,
and analysis of tritiated sterols. Other important research during
this period included studies on the biosynthesis of cholesterol
from various precursors. From 1952 to 1957, David was with the Virus
and Rickettsial Research Section at Lederle Laboratories in Pearl
River, New York. It was during this period that he began his studies
on diet and lipid metabolism and the role of lipid metabolism in
atherosclerosis. He continued these studies to the time of his passing.
In 1957, he joined the staff of The Wistar Institute. He was the
Associate Director of that institute, and Wistar Professor of Biochemistry
at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.
Again I, a quote from his 1958 volume.
"I undertook the writing of this in an effort to organize
the vast cholesterol literature for my own use. In the several years
that I had been engaged in research in this field, I had been impressed
by the lack of a centralized source of information".
In this volume, Dave was remarkably successful in single-handedly
bringing together and focusing the diverse information then available
on sterol metabolism. He continued these efforts as author of numerous
review articles. In addition, as editor of over 20 individual volumes
of serial publications, Dave provided an unbiased forum for the
publication of new concepts and advances in lipid chemistry and
metabolism. For many years he played a central role in stimulating
scientific communications by dedicating his time and organizational
abilities to the development of numerous national and international
committees, symposia and meetings. Thus, throughout the years he
continued to serve as a unifying force as well as a catalyst for
the development and interchange of scientific thought.
On a more personal note, anyone who had ever met Dave was immediately
impressed with his warmth and friendliness. His keen sense of humor
was quickly apparent. Despite the competitive nature of this field,
Dave's wit and charm helped all of us maintain a sense of proportion.
What's more, generations of biochemistry students have learned the
cholesterol pathway from his cleverly composed songs. In fact, the
progress of scientific achievement in the area of atherosclerosis
research can be traced through a review of his songs and poems.
In 2003, the American Oil Chemists Society collected many of his
songs and commentaries and published them as a small volume. With
the assistance of the American Oil Chemists Society, I have been
able to have this volume republished and copies are available at
the back of the room. I urge you to take a copy since it presents
a real sense of the man.
Finally, I wish to call attention to an aspect of Dave's character
for with I feel he had not received sufficient recognition. That
is, the encouragement, support and guidance he gave to a large number
of young investigators, both those who began their careers in his
own laboratory, as well as many others in the scientific community.
He used his outstanding reputation in subtle ways to assist the
development of young scientists, often without their knowledge.
I asked Barbara Howard, who was Dave's first graduate student, to
help me update this dedication. After reading the dedication, Barbara
and I believe that in the past 27 years since the original was written,
David's contributions continued to accumulate. His interests broadened
to include the effect of diet on both atherosclerosis and cancer,
and significant contributions were made from studies on saturated
and unsaturated fatty acids, plant sterols, fiber, antioxidant vitamins
and carbohydrates. The list of his research publications, review
articles and presentations steadily increased, including a book
on Dietary Fiber edited in 2003, and he continued to influence the
scientific community by participating in ongoing debates on issues
relating to nutrition, to cardiovascular disease and cancer. He
continued as a recipient of an NIH Research Career Award for 44
years, and last year was the first recipient of the Career Achievement
Award from the American Society of Nutrition. His wit and humor
did not diminish, nor did his support of young scientists. He will
be greatly missed.