Deceased March 25, 2008

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In Memory

Dean Engelhardt

Dean Engelhardt came to Amherst from Oak Park, Ill., where he was born on January 15, 1940, and where he graduated from Oak Park and River Front High School.  Dean majored in Biology.  His thesis “The Identification and Genetic Analysis of Transduced Heterogenotes using Salmonella typhimurium” brought him honors at graduation, and it is surely further research with Professor Plough on this bacterium for which the College awarded him an M.A. in January 1963.

On earning a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Rockefeller University in 1967, Dean obtained a position as Assistant Professor in the Biological Sciences Department at the University of Connecticut, where he worked until 1973. He and Sara Lawrence (Wellesley ’65) were married on June 20, 1970. 

He next joined the Microbiology faculty of the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons as Assistant Professor, achieving the rank of Associate Professor before leaving academe in 1981 for  Enzo Biochem, Inc., where he spent the rest of his professional career in positions of increasing responsibility, ultimately becoming, in 2000, Executive Vice President of the company.  

Dean’s research interests are reflected in numerous papers he published in the areas of nucleic acid synthesis and protein production.  Many of these he coauthored with colleagues based in a variety of countries around the globe.


Sara L. Engelhardt writes:

“Dean, my husband for almost 38 years, died on March 25, 2008, after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

“Dean had conflicted feelings about Amherst, in part because of the difficult family situation during the five years he spent there, but also, as he often repeated, because of the lack of women students.  He definitely valued the quality of the education he received, while recognizing that he didn’t connect well with the academics and the faculty – or with the other students, a major part of a college education at a place like Amherst.  His subsequent, less structured studies at the Rockefeller University were much more satisfying to him and prepared him for a life of scientific enquiry, at which he excelled without gaining the professional recognition he could have had if that had been his goal.  His goal was always to learn more and to interact with as many bright minds as possible in the pursuit of breakthrough scientific knowledge.

“Dean’s productive career as a research scientist and biotech executive encompassed forty-plus peer-reviewed papers, twenty-plus issued patents or pending applications and several major clinical trials.  In the course of this career, he wrote, “science faction” novels and learned to speak both Japanese and German.  He also developed a passion for the outdoors, including camping, skiing, hiking, and everyday jogs.

“In his final year, Dean forged deeper relationships with his loved ones, including not only me and our two daughters, Barbara Martin and Margaret Engelhardt, but with our son-in-law and grandson, Lance and Wolf Martin, and our nephews, Alec and Chris Cumming.  Dean’s friends sought his company because of his creative and open mind and his engaging style.”