October 23, 2014

Hidemi Sato

Dr. Hidemi Sato, Life Member of the MBL Corporation, and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, passed away in Toba City, Japan on May 23, 2006 at the age of 79 after a long illness. Dr. Sato came to the United States in 1960 to join the Department of Cytology and Anatomy at the Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, NH after graduating from Kyoto University in Kyoto City and working at Hosei University in Yokohama. At Dartmouth he joined the teaching faculty of the Histology course as well as the newly established Molecular Biology Program and was rapidly promoted from Research Assistant to Research Associate to Research Associate and then to Assistant Professor. Concurrently, Dr. Sato and his wife, Yuki, joined the research project of Shinya Inoué and developed a unique method for deciphering the arrangement of DNA protein in needle-shaped sperm heads.

In 1966, Dr. Sato moved to the Biology Department at the University of Pennsylvania in together with Drs. Gordon Ellis and Shinya Inoué, as well as four laboratory associates, where they established the Program in Biophysical Cytology. In addition to training several outstanding graduate students, the Program members provided definitive proof that the filaments making up the mitotic spindle (which divides the chromosomes and places them into two daughter cells) were protein filaments known as microtubules. During the summers of 1961 to 1966, Dr. Sato also participated in the laboratory instructions in the MBL’s Physiology Course.

Dr. Sato made a sabbatical visit to Nagoya University in 1973 and in 1977 returned to become Professor of Biology and Director of the Sugashima Marine Biological Laboratory of the University, located near the entrance of Ise Bay, South of Nagoya City. While he was developing and modernizing the laboratory (which was built in 1939), Dr. Sato and his students carried out many important studies on conditions that affect cell division, and on the fine structure of the cell nucleus. Dr. Sato was also active internationally as a member of International Cell Research Organization (ICRO) at UNESCO, and in promoting students from South East Asia to study in Japan. After retiring from the Directorship in 1990, he became Professor at Nagano University in Nagano City, and until 1997, Visiting Professor for the University of the Air in Tokyo.

Dr. Sato will be remembered by his colleagues and students form his devotion to science, his compassionate guidance of his students, and his good humor. He is survived by his wife, Yuki, former instructor of English at Sho-in Women’s University in Kobe, Japan, and their three sons, Hideo, Masahiko, and George, who all live in the United States.