Kaplan, Nathan O. (Nathan Oram), 1917-1986

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Biochemist specializing in enzymology and chemotherapy. Associated first with Brandeis University (1957-1967) before accepting an appointment at the University of California, San Diego, in 1968, which he held until his death in 1986.

Before assuming his position at Brandeis University, Kaplan worked as a research chemist for the Manhattan Project (1942-1944) and a researcher in the McCollum-Pratt Institute at Johns Hopkins University (1950-1957). In 1980, Kaplan was named associate director of the UCSD Cancer Center.

From the description of Papers, ca. 1943-1986. (University of California, San Diego). WorldCat record id: 20293761

Biography

Nathan Oram Kaplan was born in New York City on June 25, 1917. He earned his B.A. in chemistry at UCLA in 1939 and his Ph.D. in biochemistry at UCB in 1943. His career as a biochemist focused on enzymology and chemotherapy. He was active in research and academic administration, first at Brandeis University and then at UCSD. He died in San Diego on April 15, 1986.

As a graduate student, Kaplan worked under David Greenberg in the Biochemistry Division of the UCB medical school, studying carbohydrate metabolism in the liver. His study of enzymes was interrupted by his work as a research chemist on the Manhattan Project (1942-1944), followed by a year as an instructor at Wayne State University. He continued his study of liver extracts, focusing on coenzyme A, at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1945 as a research associate to Fritz Lipmann. He left in 1949 to become an assistant professor at the University of Illinois's College of Medicine.

In 1950, Kaplan accepted a position at the McCollum-Pratt Institute at Johns Hopkins University after Sidney Colowick insisted Kaplan's appointment be a condition of Colowick accepting the directorship for the Institute. Kaplan remained on the biology faculty of the Institute until 1957, when Brandeis University hired him to start a graduate biochemistry department. Kaplan recruited several former colleagues from Massachusetts General Hospital to Brandeis's new department.

He stayed at Brandeis until 1968, when he moved to UCSD chemistry department, having been recruited by Martin Kamen. Kaplan had known Kamen during his graduate days at Berkeley and had himself recruited Kamen to Brandeis University.

During the 1970s Kaplan focused his research on chemotherapy. He is credited with having discovered the relationship between different types of cancer and the amount of lactate dehydrogenase, or LDH, in the blood. With Gordon Sato, Kaplan founded a nude mouse colony at UCSD's NIH-funded Cancer Center, producing experimental specimens for cancer studies across the country. (Nude mice have no thymus and thus no immune system for rejecting tumors, making them valuable specimens for the study of tumor growth.) At the time of his death, Kaplan was studying human interferon and the cellular processes of malignancy.

In 1980, Kaplan became associate director of UCSD's Cancer Center. He also served on several administrative committees related to education in the medical sciences, both in the medical school and in relation to the biology and chemistry departments. Off campus, Kaplan served as an advisor and as a consultant to the American Cancer Society, the University of Chicago, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Research Council's Committee on Coenzymes.

Among his honors, Kaplan shared the Sugar Research Award in 1946 for work on phosphorolysis and synthesis of sucrose and the Nutrition Award in 1948 for work on Coenzyme A. He was presented the American Chemical Society's Award in Biological Chemistry in 1953 for work on the metabolic significance of vitamins. Kaplan was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1958 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 1970.

With Sidney Colowick, he founded and edited the book series METHODS IN ENZYMOLOGY, and he co-edited the journal ANALYTICAL BIOCHEMISTRY. Kaplan was also on the editorial advisory board of many other biochemistry journals: MOLECULAR PHARMACOLOGY, BIOCHEMICAL GENETICS, and BIOCHEMICAL MEDICINE.

From the guide to the Nathan O. Kaplan Papers, 1943 - 1986, (University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Portraits of University of California individuals and groups, ca. 1850-[ongoing] The Bancroft Library. University Archives.
creatorOf Boden, Robert. GALCIT project no. 1 : weekly meeting minutes 1945 Jan - Dec. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Kaplan, Nathan O. (Nathan Oram), 1917-1986. Papers, ca. 1943-1986. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
referencedIn Stirling Historical Society of Greenport (Greenport, N.Y.). Map collection, 1874-1916. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Kaplan, Nathan. Thermal and Shock Sensitivity of Nitromethane, 1945 Dec 26. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Andrus, Rod. GALCIT project no. 1 : weekly meeting minutes 1944 Jan - Dec. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Nathan O. Kaplan Papers, 1943 - 1986 University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
referencedIn Kaplan, Nat : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
creatorOf Kaplan, N. The relationship of the level of aspiration to academic and personality factors. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Weissbluth, Mitchel. A study of the nitromethane-oxygen combination as a rocket propellant : Progress Report no. 1-22, 1944 Oct 15. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
creatorOf Kaplan, Nathan. Methods of Initiating and Preventing Propagating Explosions in Nitromethane, 1945 Apr 11. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith California Institute of Technology. Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory. corporateBody
associatedWith California Institute of Technology. Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory. corporateBody
associatedWith Jet Propulsion Laboratory (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Johnston, S. A. person
associatedWith Peebles, L. H. person
correspondedWith Provine, William B. person
associatedWith Sill, Richard C. person
associatedWith Stirling Historical Society of Greenport (Greenport, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, San Diego corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, San Diego. Athymic Mouse Facility. corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, San Diego. Dept. of Chemistry corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, San Diego. Theodore Gildred Cancer Facility. corporateBody
associatedWith Weissbluth, Mitchel. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Enzymology
Interferon
Chemistry--Research
Nude mouse
Cancer--Research
Biochemistry
Biochemists--Biography--Archives
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1917-06-25

Death 1986-04-15

Americans

English

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