Jean And Katsuma Dan Lectureship

dan-headshotJean Clark and Katsuma Dan met when they were graduate students of the American physiologist, L.V. Heilbrunn. They studied with him at the University of Pennsylvania and spent their summers at the MBL. Katsuma Dan received his Ph.D. in 1934; Jean Clark received hers in 1936 after which they married and settled in Nagai, a five-mile bike ride to their laboratory in Misaki. They came from vastly different backgrounds: He was the son of a wealthy Japanese baron and she was from Presbyterian Yankee stock, but they shared a love for science, Woods Hole, and the MBL.

Katsuma Dan was one of Japan’s most influential and original biologists, a skillful administrator, and a scientific statesman. He was credited with original studies of marine organisms, their cell division, fertilization, early development, cell differentiation, and lunar-influenced spawning cycles. Katsuma Dan died in 1996 in Osaka, Japan, at the age of 91.

Jean Dan was the progenitor of an international effort to understand the interaction between the sperm and the egg; she discovered the acrosomal reaction that unites sperm to egg cell membrane. Her superb translations of Japanese biological works into English have been instrumental in the export of Japanese discovery to the West. Jean died in 1978, and her ashes were brought back from Japan and scattered on the water near Nobska Point.


Raymond Keller, University of Virginia – 2009
Thomas Lecuit, University of Marseille, France – 2010
Dr. Shinya Inoué, Marine Biological Laboratory -2011
George Q. Daley, M. D., HHMI/Children’s Hospital, Boston – 2012
Nicole King, University of California, Berkeley – 2013
Anthony Hyman, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology & Genetics – 2014
David Grunwald, University of Utah – 2015
Nicole King, University of California, Berkeley; HHMI – 2016
Ruth Lehmann, NYU Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine – 2017
Eric Wieschaus, Princeton University, – 2018

*Alternate years with the Physiology Course