Worm Breeder's Gazette 14(1): 5 (October 1, 1995)

These abstracts should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.

Kevin Van Doren (1955-1995)

Jim Lissemore1, Eleanor Maine2

1 Biology Dept., John Carroll University, University Heights, OH 44118
2 Biology Dept., Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244- 1270

     Kevin Van Doren, assistant professor of Biology at
Syracuse University, died on July 15, 1995 while camping
with his family in Adirondack Park.  During a severe storm,
a tree was uprooted and fell onto their tent, killing Kevin
instantly.  His wife Jean suffered a broken arm, broken
pelvis, and internal injuries but is recovering well.  Their
two young daughters, Corie and Meredith, were uninjured.
(Jean Van Doren can be contacted at 926 Westmoreland Ave.,
Syracuse, NY 13210 or jmvandor@mailbox.syr.edu).
     Kevin received his Bachelor's degree in Biology, with a
concentration in Marine Biology, from Southeastern
Massachusetts University in 1977.   He had planned to pursue
a career in marine biology but there were few graduate
programs open to him at that time.  As a result, Kevin
worked outside of science for two years before accepting a
technician position in 1979 at the Worcester Foundation for
Experimental Biology working with Bill Crain on actin gene
expression in sea urchin embryos.  In 1980 he entered a
Ph.D. program in the Department of Biochemistry at SUNY-
Stony Brook and carried out his thesis research at Cold
Spring Harbor Laboratory.  Under the direction of Joseph
Sambrook and Yakov Gluzman, Kevin worked on developing
adenovirus as a mammalian cloning vector and completed his
Ph.D. in 1985.  He then entered the C. elegans community by
taking a post-doctoral position with David Hirsh at
Synergen, Inc. in Boulder.  During most of his four years in
Boulder, Kevin studied the newly discovered phenomenon of
trans-splicing.  He contributed to several significant
discoveries about the nature of trans-splicing including the
existence of SL RNA as a snRNP particle with novel
     In 1989, Kevin joined the faculty of Syracuse
University where he continued working on pre-mRNA processing
in general and trans-splicing in particular using a variety
of approaches.  Recently, he made eager use of data from the
C. elegans genome and cDNA sequencing projects to pursue
genes identified as putative homologs of RNA splicing
factors in other organisms.  One of these genes, a homolog
of the Drosophila suppressor of white-apricot gene, led
Kevin to a productive collaboration with Paul Bingham (SUNY-
Stony Brook) in which they identified a novel conserved
motif in this proposed splicing factor.  Kevin also was
taking a reverse genetic approach to splicing in C. elegans
and had collaborated with the Plasterk and Kohara labs to
screen their TC1 banks to find insertions within other
putative splicing homologs.
     Kevin was an enthusiastic teacher.  Among his efforts
were the development of an ambitious molecular biology lab
course for undergraduates and graduate students and
participation in the Freshman Forum, a new course designed
to introduce students to college life and allow them to get
to know a faculty member as a potential mentor and friend.
Kevin drew particular pleasure from mentoring undergraduate
students in his research lab.  In recognition of his strong
support of undergraduate teaching and research, the Syracuse
University Biology Department plans to name a lounge for
undergraduate biology majors in his memory.
     Kevin's first loves in life were his family and the
outdoors.  He was a devoted husband and very loving father
who liked nothing better than hiking, camping, or skiing
with his family.  His other interests included fly-fishing,
biking, wood-working, and cooking, to name a few.  He was
active in his church and coached his daughters' soccer team.
Those of us fortunate to have known Kevin will remember him
as a vibrant, outgoing, warm, and funny man who was a
wonderful friend and colleague.