Daniel J. O’Kane, Ph.D.(December 21, 2007)
Daniel J. O’Kane, Ph.D., 88, former professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania, died on December 21, 2007 in Winchester, VA, after a long, valiant struggle with Parkinsons and Alzheimers diseases. O’Kane was born on Long Island, NY, and received a B.S. degree from Cornell University inf 1940 and an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin in 1941. From December 1941 until February 1946, he served in the U.S. Army, first in England, then at Fort Deitrick, MD, until being discharged as a Major, having done research on anthrax. After WWII, he again entered Cornell and was awarded a Ph.D. in 1947. His mentors durring these early years were I.C. Gunsalus and W.W. Umbreit, with whom he focused on bacterial physiology, especially pyruvate metabolism and the enzymes and coenzymes involved, an intered which persisted throughout his career. In fact, his final publication, a review which appeared in 1982, was entitled “A decade of pyruvate systems” (in Experiences in Biochemical Perception, Academic Press, NY).
In 1947, O’Kane was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, promoted to Associate Professor in 1951 and Professor in 1956. In 1955-56, he received a Guggenheim-Fulbright Fellowship and spent that time in the School of Biochemistry at Oxford University. While there, he wrote an outstanding review on the metabolism of carbohydrates and related compounds (Annu Rev Microbiol 10: 175-306, 1956). He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, chaired the Physiology Division of ASM (1954) and was on the editorial board fo the Journal of Bacteriology (1952-7). At Penn, he charied the Graduate Group in Microbiology from 1960-68. He was also the Vice Dean, Associate Dean and Acting Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from 1966-74. In 1974, he became Deputy Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, presing until 1978 when he was appointed Chairman of the Biology Department. He held this and the position of Associate Chairman through 1985, retiring in 1986 and moving with his wife Doreen to Virginia in order to be closer to his children. (ref: ASM Microbe, vol 3, no 10, 2008)