University of Rochester
Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

$1 million gift honors Gates


John Zabriskie '66 (PhD), a graduate of the Department of Chemistry, along with his wife, Adelaide, has donated $1 million to the Marshall D. Gates Jr. Chair of Chemistry at the University in honor of his one-time friend and mentor.

The chair was established in 2002 to honor Gates, professor emeritus and C. F. Houghton Professor of Chemistry, who died last October 1 at the age of 88, just nine days before the dedication ceremony of the chair named for him.

"We are very proud to be able to honor Marshall with this chair, and John's gift is a tremendous way to show both his respect and the University's respect for Marshall's work and life," says Provost Charles Phelps.

Gates was known worldwide for his groundbreaking synthesis of morphine. His pursuit of the chemistry of the morphanoids was a lifelong effort and was rewarded by many honors including election to the National Academy of Sciences. Gates was also a distinguished teacher and mentor, recognized by the University with the Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

"Rochester is famous for its exceptional graduate programs in arts, sciences, and engineering, particularly in chemistry," notes Thomas LeBlanc, the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the College Faculty. "We are very proud of alumni like Dr. John Zabriskie, who have excelled in their chosen fields and have chosen to give back to the College in recognition of the training they received here. Dr. Zabriskie is to be applauded for his magnificent generosity to his graduate alma mater. By supporting the Gates Chair in Chemistry he honors both Professor Marshall Gates, one of the most distinguished faculty in the history of the University, as well as the current and future occupants of this newly created endowed professorship."

Former president and CEO of Pharmacia and Upjohn, Zabriskie is currently a cofounder of PureTech, an Internet technology company, and is the organizing chairman of Protein Forest. He also sits on the boards of Cellicon Biotechnologies and Nanopharma and has served on a number of boards for health care and academic institutions.

"I decided to give the gift as a way to honor a great chemist, a great mentor, and a close friend--someone whom I admired ever since we first met," says Zabriskie. "We shared many of the same interests, including a love of chemistry, a love of skiing, and an occasional game of poker together. I also am mindful that the University, through its doctoral program in chemistry, provided me with an opportunity to grow intellectually, and which, in turn, provided the foundation for my successful career in the pharmaceutical industry.

"It is amazing how an individual can touch one's life and alter it forever," adds Zabriskie. "Marshall had this impact on many of his students and associates, including me. I attribute my success in part to the influence that he played in my life as a teacher, mentor, and friend, and remember the time that I spent as a doctoral student at the Department of Chemistry with great affection."

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