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October 20, 2009, Volume 56, No. 08

Dr. Cohn, Biochemistry and Biophysics

Cohn, Mildred

Dr. Mildred Cohn, the Benjamin Rush Professor Emerita of Physiological Chemistry, passed away October 12 of respiratory failure at the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. She was 96 years old.

Dr. Cohn earned her BA in chemistry from Hunter College in 1931 and her PhD in physical chemistry from Columbia University in 1938. After receiving her PhD, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at George Washington University in Washington DC, and a research associate position at Cornell Medical College.

In 1946, when Dr. Cohn’s husband, the late physicist Dr. Henry Primakoff (Almanac September 6, 1983), received a faculty appointment at Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. Cohn was offered a research position in the biochemistry laboratory of the Nobel Prize-winning husband and wife team of Gerty and Carl Cori. Dr. Cohn joined the faculty as an associate professor of biochemistry in 1958 and remained at Washington University until 1960, when she and her husband came to the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Cohn joined the University’s School of Medicine faculty in 1960 as an associate professor of biophysics and physical biochemistry and became a full professor the following year. In 1982 Dr. Cohn was named the Benjamin Rush Professor of Physiological Chemistry at Penn. From l982 to l985, Dr. Cohn was a senior scientist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. After officially retiring in l985, Dr. Cohn remained involved in the world of science and in the life of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Cohn overcame both gender and religious discrimination to have a profound impact on biochemistry and biophysics. She published over 160 articles, authoring numerous seminal papers in her field. Dr. Cohn was the first woman to be appointed to the board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, where she served as editor for ten years, as well as the first woman to be elected president of the American Society of Biological Chemistry in 1978.

Among her many honors, Dr. Cohn was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, as well as being the recipient of the National Medal of Science in 1982. The citation for her work as the recipient of the National Medal of Science was “For pioneering the use of stable isotopic tracers and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the study of mechanisms of enzymatic catalysis.” Dr. Cohn was granted honorary doctorates from nine universities, including Penn in 1984 and the Weizmann Institute in Israel, where she was elected a member of the board of the Weizmann Institute in 1978. Her most recent honor came on October 11, 2009, when she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

She is survived by her three children, Nina Rossomando (C’64), Paul Primakoff, and Laura Primakoff; her grandchildren, Natasha R. Johnson (C’91), Michelle Rossomando, Anna Myles-Primakoff, Dylan Myles-Primakoff, Mira Kahn, and Gabriella Kahn (C’13); and her great-grandchildren, Olivia Johnson, Andrew Johnson, Vince Williams, and Carmela Williams. A private family memorial service will be held.

Donations may be directed to the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, 633 Third Avenue, New York, NY, 10017; (212) 895-7900, where the Mildred Cohn Memorial Fund has been established.


Dr. Iqbal, Dental Medicine

Iqbal, Mian

Dr. Mian Iqbal, assistant professor of endodontics-clinician educator with Penn Dental Medicine, died tragically September 10 in an auto accident in Pakistan. His wife, Maliha Iqbal, was also killed in the accident. They were in Pakistan to attend the funeral of his mother. He was 55 years old.

Dr. Iqbal had been with the department of endodontics since 2000, overseeing the postdoctoral residency program as the director of Postgraduate Endodontics. Since 2007, he also held the position of director of the Division of Advanced Dental Education, which encompasses the School’s nine postdoctoral programs. “We called him a gentle giant. He was a dedicated teacher, loyal colleague, and a warm and kind human being,” said Dr. Syngcuk Kim, chair of the department of endodontics.

Prior to joining Penn Dental Medicine, he served as assistant professor at the College of Dentistry at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (1987–99); assistant professor of endodontics in Meharry Dental College in Nashville, Tennessee (1984–86); and instructor in dentistry at Khyber Dental College at the University of Peshawar in Pakistan (1979–82). Dr. Iqbal held a BDS from the University of Peshawar (1977), an MS from the University of Minnesota (1984), and a DMD from Penn Dental Medicine (2003).

A researcher and lecturer, Dr. Iqbal was the vice chair of the Evidence-Based Committee of the American Association of Endodontists and served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Endodontics, the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, the Journal of Implant and Advanced Clinical Dentistry, the Indian Journal of Medical and Dental Sciences, and the US Civilian Research and Developmental Foundation.

 “He was one of the rising stars in the national and international endodontic arena,” said Morton Amsterdam Dean Denis Kinane. “We have lost a valuable and highly respected member of our community; he will be greatly missed.”

Dr. and Mrs. Iqbal are survived by their son, Taimur Iqbal.

The School of Dental Medicine’s department of endodontics is holding a memorial to celebrate Dr. Iqbal’s life and contributions to Penn Dental Medicine on Tuesday, October 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the atrium and Fonseca Gardens in the School of Dental Medicine, at 40th Street; and is establishing a memorial fund in his memory. Contributions to the fund can be made through the Department of Endodontics; for more information, contact (215) 898-4927 or syngcuk@pobox.upenn.edu.

Mr. Stefaniuk, Penn Museum

Stefaniuk, Jason

Jason “Jay” Stefaniuk, the web developer (programmer/analyst) for the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, died suddenly in a car accident on October 4. He was 33 years old.

Mr. Stefaniuk was a 1994 graduate of Fels Business Academy and later attended Penn State-Abington. He spent four years in China teaching English prior to working at the Penn Museum, where he recently completed and launched the Museum’s new website (www.penn.museum). He began working here earlier this year and was the personality behind the Museum’s Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook pages and was working on numerous other projects to improve the online and in-museum experience for visitors. Fluent in sign language, he was a dedicated contributor to the deaf community in Philadelphia. The Museum will soon launch tours for the deaf and hearing-impaired to honor Mr. Stefaniuk’s memory.

Mr. Stefaniuk is survived by his parents, Michael and Rosanne; a sister, Amanda Joy; a brother, Jesse and his wife Dana; and their children, Caitlyn and Jacob.

Donations may be made in his memory to the Juvenile Diabetes Association, 225 City Avenue Suite 104, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004.



Almanac - October 20, 2009, Volume 56, No. 08