Friday, December 13, 2019

Howard Sprecher, known for the “Sprecher Pathway” passes

Howard Sprecher, an AOCS member from 1996–2015, passed away on December 6, 2020, at the age of 83. Dr. Sprecher was the recipient of the Supelco Award in 2000 and was very involved with Lipids, serving as an Associate Editor from 1992–1998 and on the Editorial Advisory Board from 1999–2019.     

His work influenced hundreds of others, including many researchers from the Lipids editorial board. Editor-in-Chief Eric Murphy wrote:

“I just taught the Sprecher pathway last week and related to the students that when I sat in their seats, Howard taught us that pathway and noted that delta-4 desaturase doesn’t exist. Period, no questions. Then he came up in lecture on last Friday as well. He was an awesome faculty member and I loved his lectures.”

Read his obituary and a summary written in 2000 when he won the 2000 Supelco Award: 

Howard Sprecher (Born 1936). The 2000 recipient was born in Wisconsin and, in 1958, received his BA in Chemistry from North Central College in Naperville, IL. He received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 1963. Sprecher was a post-doctoral fellow with Ralph Holman at the Hormel Institute from 1963–1964. The next step in his academic career was at Ohio State University as an Assistant Professor in 1964 and he was promoted to Associate and finally full Professor in 1972. In 1995, he held the Chair of the Medicinal Biochemistry Department. Upon retirement in 2000, Sprecher became Professor Emeritus in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and currently holds this position. Sprecher is internationally known as an authority on fatty acid metabolism, synthesis of complex lipids, and prostaglandins and other eicosanoids. A key feature of much of his work has been the total synthesis of labeled fatty acids for metabolic studies. He is also well known for his elucidation of DHA formation in mammals (known as the “Sprecher Pathway”).

He has presented 45 invited lectures in many countries, and in 1982 he was a guest lecturer in Stockholm at the Nobel ceremony honoring Bergstrom, Samuelsson, and Vane for their research on prostaglandins. He was responsible for organizing four international meetings on essential fatty acids and prostaglandins. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous important journals, including Lipids, Progress in Lipid Research, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Sprecher is the author of over 200 publications in important journals.

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