Campus & Community

Nussbaum dies at 81

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Retired Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Alexander Leopold Nussbaum of Newton, Mass., died June 22, 2007. He was 81.

Born in Leipzig, Germany, Nussbaum immigrated to the United States in 1940 as a refugee. According to family members, he felt a lasting gratitude for the hospitality the United States offered.

Within four years, he went back to Germany as a member of the 78th U.S. Army Infantry Division during World War II. After his return to the United States, he worked as a diamond cutter by day and attended City College of New York at night. Having received a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Purdue University, Nussbaum found employment with Mexican pharmaceutical company Syntex as a member of a team that succeeded in synthesizing cortisone from local natural products.

He went on to earn a Ph.D. from Wayne University and later gained employment with the pharmaceutical companies Schering and Hoffmann-La Roche. During this time he took sabbaticals at Stanford School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School (HMS), where he was involved in early studies in genetic engineering.

Nussbaum retired from private industry to conduct research at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and then returned to HMS where he participated in preclinical instruction. He also taught biochemistry for 21 years with the Harvard Division of Continuing Education. Nussbaum had a passion for teaching and learning, and as an avid reader was a lifelong student of a multitude of subjects. His students often noted that they learned a lot more than biochemistry from his class.

Nussbaum is survived by his wife, Ruth; his three children, Michael, Daniel, and Beth; five grandchildren; and his sister, Inge (Nussbaum) Rothenstreich. Memorial donations may be made to the Joslin Diabetes Center, One Joslin Place, Boston, MA 02215, and The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, 305 Seventh Ave., 19th Floor, New York, NY 10001-6008.