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Elkan Blout dies

National Medal of Science winner helped develop instant color film at Polaroid and create the field of physical biochemistry

Kirsten Weir
Elkan Blout, a biochemist who helped to pioneer instant color film technology, conducted research at the interface between biology and chemistry at a time when few did, and earned the National Medal of Science award for chemistry, died last month at the age of 87. The cause of death was pneumonia.Blout's varied career included prominent posts at the Polaroid Corporation, Harvard Medical School, and the Food and Drug Administration. "There were multiple careers in Elkan's life," said Lila Gierasch, one of Blout's former graduate students at Harvard, now distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. "That doesn't surprise those of us who rubbed shoulders with him, because his vision was so broad."As a young PhD in chemistry, Blout was recruited by Polaroid Corporation founder Edwin Land to act as research chemist and later vice president of research at Polaroid; Blout eventually led the...

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