Mr. Caras, Vet School Overseer
Roger A. Caras, a member of the School of Veterinary Medicine's Board of Overseers since 1980 and an adjunct professor of animal ecology at the School of Veterinary Medicine, died on February 18, at the age of 72.
Mr. Caras was an author of more than 60 books about animals and their habitats, including, A Celebration of Dogs (1981). He had a radio series Pets and Wildlife that was heard on ABC, CBS and NBC and he joined ABC-TV in 1975 as a special correspondent for animals and the environment and a guest host of the Dick Cavett Show. He was also president emeritus of the ASPCA.
Mr. Caras was a lecturer at the Veterinary School from 1978-84 and an adjunct professor of animal eclology here from 1987 to 1997. He was the recipient of an honorary degree, an Ll.D., from the School of Veterinary Medicine at their Centennial Convocation on October 15, 1984. He received the Centennial Medal in 1990. At the Centennial Convocation, the citation for Mr. Caras read:
He is survived by his wife, Jill Langdon Barclay; daughter, Pamela Caras-Rupert; a son and four grandchildren.
Dr. Ferguson, Medicine
Dr. James Joseph Ferguson, Jr., professor emeritus of biochemistry and of medicine, and a former associate dean in the School of Medicine, died at his home on February 17 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). He was 75 years old and had resided in Chevy Chase, MD since his retirement from Penn in 1988.
Dr. Ferguson received his undergraduate and medical education at the University of Rochester, and subsequently pursued an internship and a residency in endocrinology at Mass. General Hospital. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Case Western Reserve Medical School where he studied cholesterol biosynthesis, he came to Penn in 1959 with a dual appointment in biochemistry and medicine (endocrinology). He was a Markle Foundation scholar and the recipient of a research career development award from NIH between 1961 and 1971. He became a full professor in both departments in 1971, was director of the endocrinology section in the department of medicine from 1966 through 1969, and served as chairman of the biochemistry department from 1971 to 1975 at which point the biochemistry department was merged with biophysics. He was appointed associate dean for special programs in 1975, a position he held until 1986, and he served on many advisory committees both here and at the NIH.
"Jim Ferguson was an excellent teacher and role model for medical students, and was greatly respected among his colleagues for having a most judicious and collegial mien with considerable administrative talent," said Joel Flaks, professor emeritus of biochemistry and biophysics. "By virtue of his training as both a clinician and basic scientist he was fully conversant with and moved easily between these disciplines. When interest arose nationally in the late 1960s for medical schools to train more prospective clinicians as physician-scientists Dr. Ferguson led the development of the combined M.D./Ph.D. degree program here. Largely through his efforts Penn was among the first half dozen institutions where the NIH funded this program in 1969, and he directed it here from its inception until the year before his retirement. It has been a resounding success with a truly impressive list of students who have gone on to make significant contributions in the medical sciences and in academic careers, among them our current Provost, Dr. Robert Barchi."
His research efforts centered on the molecular basis of hormonal action with an important contribution being the early demonstration of the value of photoaffinity labeling in such studies. The laboratory discovered that the important second messenger in the action of several hormones, cyclic-AMP, without further modification, could be covalently linked to a number of its target enzymes by simple ultraviolet irradiation. Earlier, while at Case Western Reserve, he studied the enzymes involved in the synthesis of two key intermediates in cholesterol formation in yeast. One of those steps, the enzyme responsible for the formation of mevalonic acid, is one of the principal sites of action of the currently important group of blood cholesterol-lowering agents, the statin drugs.
Away from the University, he derived a great deal of pleasure as a flutist with the Philadelphia Doctors' Orchestra, a group he was president of for several years. After leaving Penn, Dr. Ferguson spent seven years at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, MD, where he was involved with the design of a biotechnology database that has become a very useful online library resource. He continued as a consultant at NIH until shortly before his death.
Dr. Ferguson is survived by his wife of 49 years, Martha "Pat" Saunders, two sons, Dr. James J. 3rd and William, two daughters, Gayle Yoh and Katherine Ferguson, and six grandchildren.
Photo of Dr. Fergusun by Frank Ross, University of Pennsylvania Archives
Mrs. Reichenbach, Retired Lecturer
Gertrude Reichenbach, a former lecturer in Germanic languages and literature, died on February 24, at the age of 88.
Mrs. Reichenbach was born in the Netherlands and received her B.A. in English from the University of Utrecht in 1936. She served with the Dutch underground during World War II while teaching high school English. She earned her masters degree in German from Penn in 1971. Mrs Reichenbach became a lecturer in 1969 and retired from that position in 1987.
She is survived by her husband, Joseph; sons, Peter and Eric; daughters, Miriam and Ingrid; one sister; a brother, six grandchildren and a great granddaughter.
Mr. Stassen, Former Penn President
It was learned at press time that Harold Stassen, former president of Penn, died on March 3, at the age of 93. Mr. Stassen served as president of the University from 1948 to 1953. His obituary will appear in the next issue of Almanac.
Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 25, March 6, 2001