October 22, 2014

Seymour Zigman

Seymour Zigman, a biochemist who worked for 40 summers at the Marine Biological Laboratory, died of a heart attack Thursday at Falmouth Hospital. He was 74.

He was the husband of Bunnie R. (Smolowitz) Zigman. Their 52nd anniversary would have been December 26.

Born in Rockaway, New York, he was raised in New Jersey, the son of Sarah (Lutsky) Zigman and the late David Zigman.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Cornell University and completed his master’s and doctorate in biochemistry at Rutgers University.

As a biochemist, Dr. Zigman was the recipient of many awards, including a Fulbright Lectureship in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he taught at the University of the Republic. The university presented him with an honorary doctor of science degree. He also lectured at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany.

A pioneer in eye research, his 38 years of research focusing on the effects of ultraviolet light on cataract formation led to over 130 publications. He owned several patents, including one with Kodak that is used as an anticancer agent at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Dr. Zigman was director of research in the department ophthalmology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine for many years. He spent his summers in Woods Hole studying dogfish eyes, using them as models for cataracts.

In 1998, he was appointed professor of ophthalmology at Boston University Medical School and became the first director of BU’s new eye research laboratory at MBL.

Besides his wife and mother, he leaves a daughter, Sheree Fern Klemow of Kingston, Pennsylvania; a grandchild; a sister, Myrna Spinrad, of West Orange, New Jersey; and many nieces and nephews.

A funeral service was held on Monday, December 18 in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home in Falmouth. Burial is in the Church Yard Cemetery in Woods Hole.

In Lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the MBL, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543; or to the Cornell University Marching Band, Ithaca, NY.

Reprinted with permission of the Falmouth Enterprise.