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Dedon to Occupy First Goldblith Chair

Goldblith Chair established

The establishment of the Samuel A. Goldblith Career Development Chair was announced at a luncheon last week. Those attending included Junta Ayukawa of Techno-Venture Co. and his mother, Mrs. Yaichi Ayukawa, flanking Provost Mark S. Wrighton, front row, left. Others, from left, are Professor Peter Dedon, the chair's first occupant; Professor Gerald N. Wogan, director of the Division of Toxicology; Professor Goldblith; and Dr. Paul E. Gray, chairman of the MIT Corporation. Photo by Elizabeth Hamlin

New professorship

The establishment of the Samuel A. Goldblith Career Development Chair and the appointment of Assistant Professor Peter C. Dedon of the Division of Toxicology to be its first holder was announced last week at a reception honoring Professor Goldblith.

Professor Dedon, who holds both a PhD and an MD, has expertise in medicine, chemistry, molecular biology and pharmacology.

The event, on Friday, Sept. 24, was hosted by Provost Mark S. Wrighton and by Professor Gerald N. Wogan, director of the Division of Toxicology. More than 60 guests attended the reception at the Faculty Club.

The new chair was established with generous gifts from corporations and individuals in honor of Professor Goldblith, professor of food science emeritus and former vice president for resource development at MIT. He has been a distinguished member of the MIT community for many years.

Among those present was Junta Ayukawa, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Techno-Venture Co. of Japan, and his mother, Mrs. Yaichi Ayukawa. Mrs. Ayukawa's late husband, Dr. Yaichi Ayukawa, who died in 1991, was Professor Goldblith's first graduate student after he returned to teaching following military service during World War II. Professor Goldblith survived the Bataan Death March and was a prisoner of war in Japan for three years. Together, he and the late Mr. Ayukawa overcame the mutual distrust the war had bred between their countries and grew to be close friends. The late Mr. Ayukawa, who became an important business figure in Japan, served two five-year terms on the MIT Corporation and was elected to life membership in 1987. His son and widow, who were escorted to the event by Dr. Paul E. Gray, chairman of the MIT Corporation and Mrs. Gray, are among those who helped MIT establish the chair honoring Professor Goldblith.

Professor Goldblith's relationship with Mr. Ayukawa led the MIT professor to become deeply involved with helping establish connections between scientists in Japan and the United States.

In 1984, Professor Goldblith's efforts over many years in this regard were recognized by Japan when he received a special award from the Emperor, The Second Class of the Order of the Sacred Treasure. The citation noted his contributions over the years to the advancement of nutrition and food science in Japan and the promotion of friendly relations between Japan and the United States.

In acknowledging the establishment of the chair, Professor Goldblith spoke movingly of his late wife and his family.

"If what I have done in my professional career has found favor in your eyes," he said, "let me assure you that the credit is not mine alone, by any means. I had been blessed with a wonderful helpmate for over 49 years who shared all with me and to whom much of the credit belongs. I am glad that Diana became aware of the fact that this chair was well underway more than six months before she passed away. I am blessed also with two wonderful children and a wonderful son-in-law who has been like a second son, and two splendid granddaughters, all of whom help to make it possible for me to still try to do something useful in my so-called retirement years."

Professor Dedon, the first Samuel A. Goldblith Career Development Professor, has been a member of the Division of Toxicology faculty since 1991.

He holds the BA in chemistry (1979) from St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, studied at the University of Minnesota Medical School for two years and holds the PhD (1986) and the MD (1987) degrees from the University of Rochester. He was a postdoctoral fellow in molecular biology at Rochester and in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molceular Biology at Harvard Medical School before joining MIT.

He is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Chemical Society, the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

A version of this article appeared in the September 29, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 8).

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