Lasker winner Frank Dixon dies

Frank Dixon, a Lasker winner and founder of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., died on Friday (February 8) of heart failure. He was 87 years old. Dixon was best known for his work showing that immunologic responses can cause harm, including kidney and cardiovascular diseases, among others. That research earned him the 1975 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. Dixon's colleagues remembered him as a "no-nonsense," focused scientist. Dixon was a "very severe, very toug

Alison McCook
Feb 10, 2008
Frank Dixon, a Lasker winner and founder of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., died on Friday (February 8) of heart failure. He was 87 years old. Dixon was best known for his work showing that immunologic responses can cause harm, including kidney and cardiovascular diseases, among others. That research earned him the 1975 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. Dixon's colleagues remembered him as a "no-nonsense," focused scientist. Dixon was a "very severe, very tough man," recalled Argyrios Theofilopoulos, a professor in the department of immunology at Scripps. "He didn't want the small talk or small explanation," Theofilopoulos said. "He wanted the facts and wanted it to be straight." Dixon's focus paid off, Theofilopoulos noted: "He did very elegant and important work." Still, the scientist had moments of softness. He would invite young Theofilopoulos, who worked with Dixon for 20 years, into his office to drink...
7 years old. Dixon was best known for his work showing that immunologic responses can cause harm, including kidney and cardiovascular diseases, among others. That research earned him the 1975 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. Dixon's colleagues remembered him as a "no-nonsense," focused scientist. Dixon was a "very severe, very tough man," recalled Argyrios Theofilopoulos, a professor in the department of immunology at Scripps. "He didn't want the small talk or small explanation," Theofilopoulos said. "He wanted the facts and wanted it to be straight." Dixon's focus paid off, Theofilopoulos noted: "He did very elegant and important work." Still, the scientist had moments of softness. He would invite young Theofilopoulos, who worked with Dixon for 20 years, into his office to drink Coca Cola every afternoon. "I found a way to interact with him." Dixon was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1920, and completed medical school at the University of Minnesota. After brief stints at Harvard Medical School's department of pathology and the Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, he spent 10 years as the chair of the department of pathology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In 1961, Dixon and four colleagues came to La Jolla and to establish the Department of Experimental Pathology at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation. This would one day become the core of the Scripps Research Institute, now in fourteen laboratory buildings with more than 1,000,000 square feet of space and more than 2,000 professors, postdocs, and other personnel. Early in his career, Dixon developed isotope tracer techniques for studying immunologically important proteins. He used them to study serum sickness, ultimately shedding light on the mechanisms underlying rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, and other related diseases. He also investigated the relationship between chronic viral infection and linkurl:autoimmune;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53106/ disease. One of Dixon's papers describing a method using linkurl:trace iodination of proteins;http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4160044?ordinalpos=266&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum for immunologic studies, published in 1966, has since accumulated 2,700 citations. According to ISI, Dixon wrote nearly 500 papers. Dixon "was always willing to sit down and talk about science," said Charles Cochrane, who joined Dixon at Pittsburgh and moved out with him to Scripps in 1961. "He was an excellent scientist." Dixon is survived by his wife and three children. With reporting from Edyta Zielinska Image: (on homepage, February 11): Dixon (2nd from left), from Scripps

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