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Biochemist Patricia Keller dies

The oral biologist was an early expert on digestive enzymes

Kirsten Weir
Patricia J. Keller, an oral biologist who helped to isolate and describe the structure of digestive enzymes, passed away in April at the age of 83. "She was a superb scientist," said Murray Robinovitch, a student and later a colleague of Keller's at the University of Washington's oral biology department. Keller brought "biochemical finesse and sophistication ... to the field of oral biology," he said.Keller studied biochemistry at the University of Detroit and later at Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied under Nobel prize-winning biochemists Gerty T. Cori and Carl F. Cori. In 1954, Keller moved to Seattle to join the University of Washington's department of biochemistry as a postdoc -- the first woman to join the prestigious department. "She didn't pound her chest in terms of being a suffragette," Robinovitch said. But "she made it clear that it was an important goal in her life...

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