Tuesday, April 11, 2017

In Memoriam: Neil Madsen

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UAlberta In Memoriam
The University of Alberta banner is flying at half-mast in remembrance of Neil Madsen, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry.

Neil MadsenDr. Neil B. Madsen, 89, of Victoria, BC, passed away peacefully March 22, 2017. He was a devoted husband, beloved father, scientist, Rotarian and outdoorsman. He was born February 8, 1928 in Grande Prairie, Alberta to Anders and Rose Madsen. He was predeceased by his loving wife of 46 years, Laura. Neil is survived by sisters Jean Stewart and Elizabeth Golosky; daughter Maureen; son Ian (Erica); grandchildren Olivia, Talia and Julian; stepsons Bill (Kitty), Jan (Ina), and Preston (Lynda), and step-grandchildren Jennifer, Dimitri (Kristina), Kirstin, Morgan, Nikolas and Hamishe. 

Neil distinguished himself in the field of biochemistry at the University of Alberta. He was a great scholar of world-class stature. His legacy in science is well entrenched in the historical record. After graduating as Gold Medalist in his Agriculture class in 1950, Neil began his M.Sc. with the Biochemistry Department. He received his Ph.D. at Washington University in 1955, under Nobel Prize co-winners Carl and Gerty Cori. He subsequently did postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of another Nobel Prize winner, Hans Krebs, at Oxford. His life work was glycogen phosphorylase. He and x-ray crystallographer Robert Fletterick made the discovery of the detailed, complicated structure of that enzyme, crucial to human and animal metabolism. Later on, Neil did related work on a glycogen-debranching enzyme. He collaborated with other researchers around the world, and had many Canadian and foreign doctoral, graduate and post-doctoral fellows benefit from guidance in his own lab in Edmonton. He was also president of the Canadian Society of Biological Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a recipient of the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal, as well as the Order of Canada. 

In 1993, after 31 years he and Laura retired to the city of Victoria, BC. Neil was afforded the time to pursue the hobbies he enjoyed most: his gardening, roses in particular, boating and fishing. Neil was an active member of the Oak Bay Rotary Club. Always the smartest man in the room, his generous soul made an impact on those who knew him. A loving father who will be missed forever.

Originally published, with photo, in The Edmonton Journal.
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