Ceremony of the Rebeiz Foundation for Basic Research Lifetime Achievement Award to Professors Roland Douce and Robert Blankenship
Was born on May 18, 1939 in Saint Maur des Fosses (Val de Marne)
1961: Was an Assistant at the Sorbonne (1961)
1965: Became Master Assistant at the Sorbonne
1971-1972: Was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Johnson Research Foundation in Philadelphia
1972-1974: Became an assistant Professor at the University of California, San Diego, at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography
1974: Became a Professor at the University Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France
1979-1991: Was responsible of the research unit associated with the CNRS For the study of " of the interaction of
1986-1998: Became responsible for the mixt unit 41 CNRS/Rhone-Poulenc Agro-chemistry "Synthesis of amino-acids and the principal vitamins of higher plants
1985-1990: Head of department at INRA1990:
1990: Scientific Adviser at the CEA (1979) and INRA
1992: Member of the University Institute of France
1995-1998: Research Director at the Ecole Normale Superieure of Lyons
2001: Senior Scientist at Oxford University
2002-2004: Director of the Institute of Structural Biology
Roland Douce devoted his research to metabolic studies of plant cells.
He isolated the chloroplast envelope and determined its structural and biochemical properties. He determined that it contained a variety of specific polar lipids (such as galactolipids, phosphatidyl glycerol and sulfolipids), carotenoid pigments and prenylquinones that implicated the envelope in specific metabolism.
He also demonstrated that higher plant mitochondria were involved in the biosynthesis of vitamins (folic acid, biotine) and therefore contributed to the autotrophic metabolism of plants. He also demonstrated the prevalence of major differences between plant and mammal mitochondria such as the oxidation of NADF, malate and glycine. He also characterized novel transporters implicated in the transport of NAD and thiamine pyrophosphate. Recently he recently investigated the structure and function of the glycine decarboxylase complex that catalyzes major reaction in the photorespiration of higher plants.
Also, Roland Douce studied the structure and function of the main enzymes implicated in the synthesis of the essential amino acids (branched amino acids such as methionine and cysteine) and vitamins such as folic acid, biotine and lipoique acid, in higher plants
Finally, Roland investigated by C-13 and P-31 NMR the striking adaptation of plant metabolism to nutritional and environmental stress.
Prizes and Distinctions
1982: Silver medal of the CNRS
1990: Elected as Correspondent of the Academie of Siences (Integrative Biologie Section
1`995: Foreign Correspondent of the American Society of Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology
1996: Elected Member of the French Academie of Sciences
1997: Member of the US National Academy of Sciences
Major Scientifc Work
Structure and Function of the plastid envelope. Advances in Botanical Research 7: 1-116 (Ed. Academic Press).
Higher Plant Cell Respiration
Robert Blankenship is the Lucille P. Markey Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences, in the Departments of Biology and Chemistry, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
1970: B. S. Chemistry with distinction Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE.
1075: Ph.D. Chemistry, University of California, Berkely, Kenneth Sauer, advisor
1975-1976: Posdoctoral trainee with Ken Sauer in the lawrwnxw Berkeley Laboratory
1976-1979: Posdoctoral trainee with Williwm Parson, University of Washington
Robert has been a leading figure in molecular aspects of photosynthesis for most of the past 44 years. He has enjoyed a prolific research career, publishing nearly 360 papers on a very broad range of topics. He has equally made substantial contributions to teaching photosynthesis and to community/educational outreach. He is a proven leader to the university communities he has served, and the world-wide photosynthesis community.
Bob’s early work in photosynthesis began with studies of photosystem I and photosystem II, in particular the manganese cluster, and he expanded his biophysical skills to included studies of purple bacterial reaction centers as a postdoc with Bill Parson. After launching his independent career, Bob became well known for his work with “funny bugs,” non-traditional chlorophototrophic bacteria like Chloroflexus aurantiacus, green sulfur bacteria, and heliobacteria. His work focused on electron and energy transfer mechanisms and their regulation, and evolution as well as carbon and nitrogen fixation, and metalloenzymes. In his most recent work he has increasingly studied cyanobacteria, including Acaryochloris marina, and Synechocystis sp. Biochemical, biophysical and structural approaches to the studies of reaction centers in such organisms characterized much of his earlier work, but Bob also contributed basic knowledge to a myriad of antenna complexes, most notably the FMO protein, chlorosomes, and LH-RC complexes in members of the Chloroflexi. Bob and his collaborators have recently been developed mass spectrometry as a tool to study details of supercomplex organization and dynamics in cyanobacteria namely, the interactions of phycobilisomes with PS II and PS I during state transitions and interactions of the orange carotenoid protein with phycobilisomes during non-photochemical quenching. Furthermore, he has also applied mass spectrometry to mapping interactions among the chlorosome, FMO, and reaction centers in Chlorobaculum tepidum. Bob has a long-standing interest in the evolution of photosynthesis, and has written extensively and is a frequent lecturer on this subject.
Prizes and Distinctions
Bob was the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Early Events in Photosynthesis at Arizona State, a leading photosynthesis research center for three decades.
2001-2004: He served as President of the International Society for Photosynthesis Research
2002-2006: He served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State
Most recently he was the Founding Director the Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center (PARC), a DOE-funded Energy Frontier Research Center, which was successfully renewed as PARC II in June of this year.
Finally, he served as organizer or co-organizer of 17 scientific meetings. This included founding the Eastern Regional Photosynthesis Conference, which celebrated its 30th meeting in April 2014. He was a co-organizer of the highly successful 16th International Congress on Photosynthesis Research held in St. Louis in 2013 and contributed to organizing two satellite meetings prior to the main meeting.
Bob has received numerous awards, including:
1991: Alumni Achievement Award from Nebraska Wesleyan University
1998: Graduate College Distinguished Research Award from Arizona Stat
2004: Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2008: Charles F. Kettering Award for Excellence in Photosynthesis from the American Society of Plant Biologists
2012: Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology
2013: Communications Award from the International Society of Photosynthesis Researh
2014: Lifetime Achievement Award of the Rebeiz Foundationfor Basic Research for the year 3013
The ceremony took place on Saturday September 22, 2014, at 5:30 pm at the Rebeiz Organization headquarters, at 2209 Edgewater Place, Champaign Illinois. Over 55 guests, including two Foundation Board Directors (Govindjee and Don Bryant) in additrion to Constantin A. Rebeiz, and Carole Rebeiz attended the ceremony. The ceremony consisted of a social hour, a buffet dinner accompanied by an assortment of wines, and several testimonials.
Copies of the Certificates of Recognition are displayed below
(The original copies are framed in mahogany as usual)
C. A. Rebeiz (Tino) acted as Master of Ceremonies and introduced the various speakers.
He started by welcoming the guests to the douce-Blankenship Award Ceremony then acknowledged the following Members of the Board of the Foundation who by casting their vote chose Roland Douce and Robert Blankenship as recipients of the 2013 Rebeiz Foundation Life Time Achievement Award. By alphabetical order, he thanked:
Then Tino stated:
I believe that the greatest achievement that a human being can achieve on this unique planet is contribution to the “Human Database of Knowledge” that has guided humanity, since recorded history.The discoveries of Roland and Robert join the discoveries of other recipients of the LTAAward and are likely to guide scientists for generation s to come.
Several of the speakers tonight, who in their own right are outstanding scientists, will describe some of Roland and Robert achievements. These achievements are of universal value and as I just mentioned are part of the Database of Human Knowledge. With this said I would like to introduce tonight speakers.
Testimonials about Roland DouceGeorges Lorimer will give the first testimonial about Roland Douce. Georges is a distinguished scientist and a well known chloroplast biochemist from the University of Maryland. He stated:
I am delighted that Roland Douce is being honored with this 2013 Rebeiz Foundation Life Time Achievement Award. I started working with Roland in 1974, very few months after he was nominated as a Professor atthe University of Grenoble. He had just published several landmark papers on the purification and characterization of the chloroplast envelope membranes; this outstanding work was done at San Diego where Roland was working with Andy Benson. We have been working together and been friends since 1974. I first carried out my PhD research under his supervision, and I had a unique opportunity to work under his wise guidance on the chloroplast envelope membranes. I was awarded a permanent position in his lab. Roland was most widely interested in plant cell metabolism and at this time, the lab was also very active in deciphering the functions of mitochondria in higher plants (with Michel Neuburger) and plant cell metabolism through using NMR (with Richard Bligny). Altogether, we had created some new thrusts on the functions of plant cell compartments that fuelled a lot of subsequent discoveries in this field. That was only possible because Roland was a brilliant and very supportive mentor who always pointed us in productive directions and provided both a theoretical basis and a lot of practical advice for everything we pursued about plant cell metabolism. Concerning envelope membranes, we further analyzed together the role of envelope membranes in lipid metabolism, in pigment and prenylquinone biosynthesis. We made the first survey of hydrophobic proteins (collaboration with Nam Hai Chua) and the first lipidomic analyses (collaboration with Ernst Heinz) of the chloroplast envelope membranes. This paved the way for more extensive proteomic studies. With Roland, I also learned how to support and motivate younger scientists who then became our collaborators, such as Maryse Block, Eric Maréchal and Norbert Rolland. All these scientists are still active in this field and clearly walk in the path of Roland Douce. Roland also created the first French laboratory at the interface between academic and industrial research: one of the aim of this lab was to decipher aminoacid metabolism and compatrmentation in plant cells. Roland Douce was also very active for the main research organizations in France, namely the CNRS and INRA. He was also the director of research at the Ecole Normale Supérieure at Lyon, and was also the head of the Institut de Biologie Structurale at Grenoble. I always admired Roland since he was such a thinker who persevered and solved complex problems like the integration of plant metabolism within the cell. All of Roland scientific contributions are clearly landmark discoveries. His approach and enthusiasm was the key to being a great scientist and the awards he has won, including this one, have been justly deserved. Those of us who studied with Roland were unusually lucky to have had not only the advice of one of the leading figures in plant metabolism, but also someone who was wise and generous and thoughtful - a true model scientist .
Bob Buchanan, an expert Photosynthesis scientist at the University of California at Berkeley, a recipient of the Sixth Foundation Life Time Achievement award, given in 2011, and a highly recognized scientist, has mailed us a testimonial about Roland. The testimonial will be read by Tony Crofts a distinguished photosynthesis researcher at the UI. Bob stated:
Roland Douce has made pioneering contributions to the biochemistry of chloroplasts. He added clarity to our understanding of the structure, function and biogenesis of the envelope surrounding the organelle. By applying the techniques of physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and chemistry, he elucidated the unique properties of this double membrane structure and documented its importance to the chloroplast and the whole plant. His contributions enabled the chloroplast transport field to develop and flourish. His more recent work has given insight into photorespiration and vitamin and amino acid biosynthesis. In extending the boundary of our knowledge of chloroplasts, he has consistently maintained the high standards of his postdoctoral mentor, Andrew Benson
The next testimonial about Roland will be delivered by Carole Rebeiz. Carole is a Botanist and the Secretary of the Foundation. For a while she was the technician of Katherine Esau a UIC Davis. She will deliver a testimonial sent to us by Christoph Benning. Christoph is a well-known chloroplast Lipid biochemist at MSU and a member of the Board of Directors of the RFFBR. He is editor in chief of the Plant Science Journal . He stated:
Please accept my apologies that I cannot be present in person to honor you, Roland. As this is being read, I am helping a friend in Goettingen to make a smooth
transition from his 50th year to the second half of his life. I was introduced to Roland’s work first when I started as a graduate student in Chris Somerville’s
lab in 1986 trying to advance our knowledge of sulfolipid biosynthesis in plants. Roland and his coworkers had written a number of fundamental papers on the synthesis
of sulfolipid starting from radioactive sulfate fed to isolated chloroplasts and I tried to take it from there. I could repeat their results but was not able to take
it further and reconstitute the system from broken chloroplasts. In the summer of 1987, when I announced to Chris that I was going to visit my then girlfriend and now spouse
in Germany and tour Europe for a couple of weeks, he suggested I should stop by in Grenoble and visit Roland Douce and his colleagues to discuss my results. And so I did.
I was blown away by Roland’s hospitality and helpfulness. He set us up in the Grenoble guest house which seemed to me at the time, outfitted to host kings.
I was treated as acolleague far beyond what I expected for a graduate student. This visit laid the foundation for a great friendship with a number of colleagues at
Grenoble that also include Maryse Block and Eric Marechal. I crossed paths with Roland multiple times while working on chloroplast lipid metabolism and I am still
frequently citing his seminal work on the composition of chloroplast envelopes. One particular important finding was that phosphatidylcholine is primarily present in
the outer leaflet of the outer chloroplast envelope membrane as shown by Roland and his coworkers in an elegant experiment in the mid-eighties. This 30-year-old
finding still holds and is a centerpiece of models describing the dynamics of lipid movement across the envelope membranes. Another important piece of data provided
first by Roland and his coworkers was the quantitative analysis of phosphate esters in the chloroplast using 31P
The next testimonial about Roland will be delivered by Jacques Joyard. Jacques is a colleague of Roland at the University of Grenoble. And replaced Roland as head of the Unit when Roland retired. I will read the testimonial:
I am delighted that Roland Douce is being honored with this 2013 Rebeiz Foundation Life Time Achievement Award. I started working with Roland in 1974, very few months after he was nominated as a Professor at Grenoble University. He had just published several landmark papers on the purification and characterization of the chloroplast envelope membranes; this outstanding work was done at San Diego where Roland was working with Andy Benson. We have been working together and been friends since 1974. I first made my PhD under his supervision, and I had a unique opportunity to work under his wise guidance on the chloroplast envelope membranes. Next I was awarded a permanent position in his lab. Roland was most widely interested in plant cell metabolism and at this time, the lab was also very active in deciphering the functions of mitochondria in higher plants (with Michel Neuburger) and plant cell metabolism through the usingNMR (with Richard Bligny). Altogether, we had created some new thrusts on the functions of plant cell compartments that fuelled a lot of subsequent discovery in this field. That was only possible because Roland was a brilliant and very supportive mentor who always pointed us in productive directions and provided both a theoretical basis and a lot of practical advice for everything we pursued about plant cell metabolism. Concerning the envelope membranes, we further analyzed together the role of envelope membranes in lipid metabolism, in pigment and prenylquinone biosynthesis. We made the first survey of hydrophobic proteins (in collaboration with Nam Hai Chua) and the first lipidomic analyses (in collaboration with Ernst Heinz) of the chloroplast envelope membranes. This paved the way for more extensive proteomic studies. With Roland, I also learned how to support and motivate younger scientists who then became our collaborators, such as Maryse Block, Eric Maréchal and Norbert Rolland. All these scientists are still active in this field and clearly walk in the path of Roland Douce. Roland also created the first French laboratory at the interface between academic and industrial research: one of the aim of this lab was to decipher aminoacid metabolism and compatrmentation in plant cells. Roland Douce was also very active for the main research organization in France, including CNRS and INRA. He was also the director of research at the Ecole Normale Supérieure at Lyon, and was also the head of the Institut de Biologie Structurale at Grenoble.
I always admired Roland since he was such a thinker who persevered and solved complex problems like the integration of plant metabolism within the cell. All Roland scientific contributions clearly are landmark discoveries. His approach and enthusiasm was the key to being a great scientist and the awards he has won, including this one, have been justly deserved. Those of us who studied with Roland were unusually lucky to have had not only the advice of one of the leading figures in plant metabolism, but also someone who was wise and generous and thoughtful - a true model scientist in my experience.
Testimonials on Behalf of Robert Blankenship
Now we are going to shift gears and read the various testimonials on behalf of Robert Blankenship.
The first testimonial on behalf of Robert will be presented by by Govindjee.
Govindjee is professor emeritus at the UI and a well-known photosynthesis researcher. He is the first recipient of the 3006 RFFBR LTAAward and a member of the Foundation Board of Directors.
Since Govindjee had to leave early because of an emergency, the Power Point testimonial was presented by Don Bryant. Don is a well-known Bacteriochlorophyll biochemist and a professor at Penn State University. He is a recipient of the second Foundation Paper Award and a member of the Foundation Board of Directors.
Click HEREon the following link:Govindjee-Bryant Power Point Presentation to View the Power Point Presentation of Govindjee-Bryant
The next testimonial testimonial about Robert was sent to us by Bob Buchanan and will be delivered by Tony Crofts. Tony is a professor Emeritus at the UI and a well-known photosynthesis researcher.
Robert (Bob) Blankenship has made insightful contributions in our understanding of the photosynthetic energy conversion and carbon fixation processes of anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria and oxygenic cyanobacteria. Trained as a chemist, he rapidly extended his scientific vision to include biology where he has consistently applied emerging technologies to unravel complex systems and elucidate their structure and function in photosynthetic systems. His contributions on the photosynthetic green bacteria are fundamental to our understanding of this group of organisms that are central to understanding the evolution of photosynthesis. His more recent structural work is filling longstanding gaps in our knowledge of the energy conversion process. He stands out as a proud product of the University of California at Berkeley.
The last testimonial was sent to us by Richard Cogdell. Richard is a Friend of Robert and a Professor at the University of Glasgow. Dennis Buetow will read the testimonial . Dennis is a Professoe Emeritus at the UI and a distinguished photosynthesis researcher
It’s a great pleasure to write a few words to illustrate why you have awarded Professor Bob Blankenship with your Rebeiz Foundation Life Time Achievement prize. I’ve known Bob since the mid-70s and seen him develop into a world class researcher in the area of the light reactions of photosynthesis. Bob is very enthusiastic, he has a marvellous imagination and he also works very hard. This combination is extremely powerful and he has made major contributions to our understanding of the function of many types of reaction centres and light harvesting complexes. Recently he has also taken a keen interest in the evolution of photosynthesis and as typical with him also made a large contribution in that area. Bob is also a wonderful teacher and communicator. The book that he has recently published on photosynthesis is probably the best in its area that is currently available. It is highly readable, beautifully illustrated and enjoyable to read even if you are expert on photosynthesis. I am delighted that you have decided to award Bob your prize and I can’t think of anybody else who is more deserving. Please pass on my best wishes to Bob when the prize is awarded.
Now it is time to present Roland and Robert with the Foundation Recognition Certificates, and an envelope containing the additional Awards. Roland Please step to my right and Robert to my left.
A photo of the award handing process is reported below and congratulations to both Roland and Robert
From left to right: Roland Douce, Tino Rebeiz,and Robert Blankenship
To end the ceremony, I would like to propose a Champaign Toast to Roland and Robert. Please grab a glass of Champaign from the Breakfast room counter and let us have a toast in about 10 minutes when everyone has a glass in hand.
From left to right: Roland Douce, Tino Rebeiz, and Robert Blankensh
After the Champaign toast please have some dessert, as well as some sweet sherry liqueur, and coffee or tea. Dessert consists of cakes, and a Semoulina Sweet called Namoura.
You may linger around and socialize until you feel like going home.
Thank you for being here tonight and participating in the Ceremony.
Various Ceremony Photos
Several Photo Collages of various aspects of the ceremony are displayed below. You can enlarge the Collages by Zooming in or by Zooming to full page. The photos were Taken
by Laurent Gasquet of
Reception Collage 2
Reception Collage 3
Reception Collage 4
Ceremony Collage 1
Ceremony Collage 3