Dr. Roger McMacken, former chair of the biochemistry and molecular biology department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, passed away December 7. An expert on DNA replication, Dr. McMacken joined the then-named department of biochemistry’s faculty in 1976. As the E.V. McCollum Professor and Chair from 1990 to 2008, he recruited more than 15 new faculty and strengthened departmental expertise in molecular and cell biology. Dr. McMacken’s visionary leadership in this area led to renaming the department to biochemistry and molecular biology in 2000 to reflect a broadened research mission that included his own seminal work on the bacteriophage lambda, a virus that infects the E. coli bacterium.
A native of Spokane, Washington, Dr. McMacken earned a BS in chemistry from the University of Washington and a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin. There he met fellow biochemistry graduate student Dr. Maria Vigo, whom he married in 1968. Dr. McMacken completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University and the University of Florida with Dr. Richard Boyce, studying in vivo the molecular mechanisms that control bacteriophage lambda DNA replication. A second postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University with Nobel laureate Dr. Arthur Kornberg exposed Dr. McMacken to the powers of in vitro biochemistry and reconstitution of DNA replication in a test tube.
The author of more than 70 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, Dr. McMacken was elected a fellow of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1982, and served on the editorial boards of Nucleic Acids Research and The New Biologist.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on December 20