Wenham - Gordon H. Sato 89, noted mammalian cell biologist and member of the National Academy of Science, died peacefully on March 31, 2017 at home.
Sato was the last graduate student to study bacteriophage biology with Max Delbrück, was a co-founder of the field of molecular biology and received a ph.D in Biophysics from Cal Tech in 1955.
In his own academic research, Sato sought to adapt microbiology methods to the study of mammalian cells. His lab established the first mammalian cell lines to retain differentiated functions when cultured outside the body, and it used a novel approach to grow and study differentiated cells in culture. Sato and collaborators also created the monoclonal antibody that became the drug Erbitux (cetuximab) that treated cancers of the colon and the head and neck in a new way.
Sato grew up on Terminal Island in Los Angeles harbor and was interned as a teenager with his family in the Manzanar Relocation Center during World War II. The years spent in the desert of the Owen Valley inspired Sato to start the Manzanar Project in the 1980’s to investigate ways of making deserts adjacent to oceans agriculturally productive. The goal was to use low tech methods to generate food for consumption or trade. The feasibility of the idea was demonstrated by planting hundreds of thousands of mangrove trees along the Red Sea in Eritrea that were used to feed livestock. For these efforts, Sato received the Rolex Award for Enterprise in 2002 and the Blue Plate Prize from The Asahi Glass Foundation in 2005.
Dr. Sato is survived by his wife, C. Josette Gaudreau of Wenham, MA, his six children and six grandchildren.
Funeral services will be private. Assisting the family with the arrangements is the Campbell Funeral Home, 525 Cabot Street, Beverly.
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