Gerald N. Wogan, the Underwood Prescott Professor of Biological Engineering, Chemistry, and Toxicology emeritus at MIT, passed away after a long illness on July 16 at the age of 91.
“Jerry” Wogan was a pioneering scientist who isolated, characterized, and established the mechanisms of action of many environmental toxins of great relevance to global public health. His leadership on aflatoxin research, a toxin that impacts the lives of billions of people, is a paradigm for environmental toxicology. His work ranged from basic mechanistic studies at the cell level to the development of animal models of disease, the study of disease patterns in populations, and, ultimately, the development of agents that induce biochemical pathways that protect people from toxin-induced disease.
During his 60-year career, Wogan trained over 75 graduate students and postdocs, who themselves went on to become leaders in the environmental health field. Former student John D. Groopman PhD ’79, who led environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins University for 20 years, recalls: “While Jerry was a great scientific leader respected by his peers, it was his humanity and commitment to the translation of basic science to the public’s good that is his lasting legacy to his students and their students in turn.”
John Essigmann PhD ’76, the past director of the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences and associate head of chemistry, says, “Jerry was always open to new ideas and had a gift for taking an idea and projecting its impact on the global stage. He encouraged …….