Lowell P. Hager (1926-2014)
Ryan Summerlin June 3, 2014
Professor Lowell P. Hager, who passed away peacefully on April 15, 2014 at the age of 87, was an internationally recognized enzymologist and protein chemist best known for his fundamental studies on halogenating enzymes and heme peroxidases that are widespread throughout biology.
Born in 1926, he was raised in the small town of Hepler in southeastern Kansas. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1947 at Valparaiso University in Indiana, a master’s degree in 1950 from the University of Kansas, and his Ph.D. in 1953 in the laboratory of I.C. “Gunny” Gunsalus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, after which he did postdoctoral studies with Fritz Lipmann at Harvard Medical School. He joined the faculty in Chemistry at Harvard in 1955 but returned to the University of Illinois to join the faculty in 1960, where he remained for the rest of his highly productive career.
From 1967 to 1969 he served as Head of the Division of Biochemistry, and from 1969 to 1988 he was the first Head of the Department of Biochemistry. The newly-formed Department flourished under his cheerful and energetic leadership, which is fondly remembered by former students and faculty. Professor Hager also served as the Director of the Biotechnology Center and the Cell and Molecular Biology Training Program, and he founded Chirazyme Labs. Among his many awards and honors, Professor Hager was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1995, and was the inaugural recipient of the William Rutter Chair in Biochemistry in 1996.
In 2010, Prof. Hager published his memoir of “A Lifetime of Playing with Enzymes” in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, which is available here: http://www.jbc.org/lookup/doi/10.1074/jbc.X110.121905
Among his survivors is Jo Brummet, who lives in Snowmass Village.