UC Berkeley press release

NEWS RELEASE, 11/06/97

UC Berkeley Professor Marian Koshland, a noted immunologist and educator, has died at 76

by Robert Sanders


BERKELEY-- Noted immunologist and educator Marian Elliott Koshland, professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, died Tuesday (10/28/97) in her sleep at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley. She was 76.

The cause of death was lung cancer.

An international leader in immunological research, she was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and past president of the American Association of Immunologists, as well as a past member of the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation. She also served on various national science committees and on the editorial boards of several research publications.

Koshland published some 200 articles in the scientific literature, among them the major finding that antibodies differ in their amino acid composition. This was a decisive argument for the now-accepted selection theory of antibody diversity and against the instruction theory.

Her most recent work investigated how cellular hormones called cytokines regulate gene expression in cells of the immune system.

Born in New Haven, Conn., (d.o.b. 10/25/21), she was a graduate of Vassar College (B.S., 1942) and the University of Chicago, where she earned a Ph.D. in immunology in 1949. During World War II she was a member of a research team that produced a vaccine for cholera, and later was a researcher on the Manhattan Project based in Oak Ridge, Tenn. After a two-year stint as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, she worked as a bacteriologist at Brookhaven National Laboratory for 13 years. She came to UC Berkeley in 1965 as a researcher and lecturer, and joined the faculty in 1970.

During her more than 30 years at UC Berkeley she served as chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology from 1982 to 1989. At the time of her death she was head of the Graduate Affairs Division of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. She continued active research in her laboratory until recent weeks despite her illness, supervising the work of two postdoctoral fellows and a graduate student.

Among her research achievments was discovery of the J chain, a key chain in antibody structure that allows antibodies to be exported from the cell and to circulate in the bloodstream to provide the immune response.

She received an Excellence in Science Award from the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology in 1989 and a National Institutes of Health Merit Award.

Koshland is survived by her husband of 52 years, Daniel E. Koshland Jr. of Lafayette, a professor emeritus of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley and past editor of the journal Science; five children, Ellen, Phyllis, James, Gail and Douglas; and nine grandchildren.

A memorial service has been scheduled for Monday, Dec. 1, at 5 p.m. in the university's Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. Donations in her memory can be sent to the Graduate Fund, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, 597 LSA #3200, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3200. Checks should be make out to "UC Regents".

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