It is now over a month since the tragic death of your son. As you may have heard, Volodya's death was met with outrage from the University and Philadelphia communities. Even though the assailants have been arrested, this gives no relief to the sense of loss felt by Volodya's close friends and colleagues in the Johnson Foundation, the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and the University. Many of us here feel especially bad when thinking about you, and how you must feel. All we can do is let you know how sorry we are that this tragedy has happened and to give you our deepest condolences.
Even though I am Chairman of this Department and, hence possibly removed from day-to-day research activities, it was in fact my privilege to know Volodya quite well in the laboratory. He regularly used the instrumentation in the laboratory next door to my office. Over the past two years, we worked together on an idea about how the proteins that he focused his research upon might work. This activity allowed me to get to know how his mind worked in a way that people that worked together in this way can know. The pleasure of interacting with Volodya did not arise from the fact that he was very clever and creative and neither was it his obvious intelligence when it came to passing ideas around. It was because he was a lot of fun, with a special dry sense of humor that I enjoyed immensely.
Volodya was a gentle man who affected all of his colleagues in the same way that he did me. This was clearly apparent and expressed by many people. His memorial service, held in November, was very, very moving, as one by one, his friends and colleagues expressed to the gathered assembly how Volodya had affected their lives. From the presentations made it was clear that he universally made this world a better place. I enclose several copies of the program.
Volodya's memory and the time he spent here will be rekindled every year in this Department. Next year we shall start a special lecture in his name, the Vladimir Sled' Memorial Lecture. We shall invite young scientists with similar promise of the kind displayed by Volodya to come to the University of Pennsylvania to speak on a topic that was close to Volodya's heart.
We shall all miss Volodya and never forget that he had been an important part of our working family in the Johnson Foundation and the Department. To others with whom he had become close friends while here in Philadelphia, the sense of loss is even greater. Once again, we in this Department would like to send our condolences to yourself and other members of his family and his friends.
P. Leslie Dutton, Eldridge Reeves Johnson Professor and Chair of Biochemistry and Biophysics
We have just sent the above letter to Volodya's mother. I am sure that it speaks not just for myself, but for many of us. However, after one month it is now time to return our thoughts to Volodya's son, Dima. Although Dima is living in the family of his mother, we are concerned about his future welfare here in the United States.
An account has been set up to which you can send a donation that will be put into a fund for Dima's future education. Any contribution that you can afford to make will be greatly appreciated, no matter how small.
Please make your checks out to "Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania," and send them to Juan Graña, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 403 Anatomy-Chemistry Building, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6059. You should also write, "Vladimir Sled' Memorial Fund," somewhere on the check.
P. Leslie Dutton
Volume 43 Number 17
January 14, 1997
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