Daniel S. Kemp, professor emeritus of chemistry at MIT, died from respiratory complications related to Covid-19 on Saturday, May 2. He was 83.
Professor Kemp was born on Oct. 20, 1936 in Portland, Oregon. He earned a BS in chemistry from Reed College in 1958 and went on to earn a PhD in organic chemistry from Harvard University in 1964, studying under the late Nobel laureate R. B. Woodward. Kemp then started his career researching organic chemistry at MIT where he taught for nearly 50 years.
During his many years at MIT, Kemp focused on his research on protein folding and stability. He was awarded the Boulder Peptide Society’s inaugural Meienhofer Award to recognize lifetime achievement in peptide science in 2007. Kemp has also received the Humboldt Research Fellowship, the Everett Moore Baker Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, and the Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry to name just a few accolades over his distinguished career.
Nader Fotouhi, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development fondly remembers his time at MIT with Kemp. “I met Dan while applying for a PhD degree in Organic chemistry. I knew immediately that I would learn significantly more than Organic chemistry from Dan. His intellect, breadth of knowledge and clarity of thinking went way beyond science. Dan was an amazing PhD mentor and besides giving me a great foundation in organic and physical organic chemistry he taught me how to think and ask the right questions. That to me was the most important thing a mentor could have given me and has been the key to my career in Drug Discovery and Development,” said Fotouhi.
“On a personal note Dan was an incredibly caring and patient person with an amazing breadth of interest. I will never forget our late night and long conversations on history, art, philosophy, and cooking among others. I will cherish my time with Dan forever,” said Fotouhi.
Kemp loved French cooking and enjoyed amateur gemology showcasing a collection of unique self-cut gemstones. In 2014, Kemp helped establish the Center for Teaching and Learning at Reed College. His well-known cockatoo companion of the last 35 years, Octavian, has been placed in loving care. In lieu of flowers, donations in Kemp’s name may be made to Foster Parrots; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; or The Center for Teaching and Learning at Reed College.
Meet the 2019 Meienhofer Award Recipient: Sam Gellman
Dr. Sam Gellman, the Ralph F. Hirschmann Professor of Chemistry and Vilas Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin - Madison has been named as the 2019 recipient of the Meienhofer Award for Excellence in Peptide Sciences. The award will be presented to Dr. Gellman on September 24, 2019 at the Boulder Peptide Symposium, which will take place from September 23 to 26, 2019 in Boulder, Colorado, where Dr. Gellman will give a presentation of highlights from his prodigious record of research achievements. Read the announcement
The Meienhofer Award was established in 2007 to annually recognize an individual with a lifetime of achievement in peptide science. The award is named after Johannes Meienhofer, in honor of his transformative discoveries in solid phase peptide synthesis. Notably Meienhofer's work demonstrated the power of medicinal chemistry in peptide pharmacology and is considered to have laid the foundation of modern synthetic peptide therapeutics.
The Meienhofer Award therefore seeks to recognize individuals who have continued in Meienhofer's tradition of innovation in synthetic peptide therapeutics.
One of the two lasting contributions was the innovation of a “milder” chemistry for SPPS. Meienhofer applied Carpino’s Fmoc group to stepwise SPPS, in conjugation with mildly acid labile side-chain and anchorage chemistries to give rise to Fmoc/tBu SPPS. The impact of this work on the synthesis of peptide pharmaceuticals cannot be overstated. Dr. Meienhofer other seminal contribution was his scholarly work in the editing of the nine volume series, The Peptides: Analysis, Synthesis and Biology, which appeared between 1979 and 1987. Dr. Meienhofer was very active in the American Peptide Symposium. He organized the Third APS in Boston in 1972, which was the first Peptide Symposium open to everyone worldwide. This highly successful symposium became a model for subsequent symposia, both in America and Europe.
University of Arizona, USA
Institut des Biomolécules Max Mousseron, Université de Montpellier, France
Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA