The Chlamydomonas community has lost one of its founding members: Ruth
Sager died of cancer on Saturday, March 29, at her home in Brookline,
Massachusetts. She was 79 years old. The obituary notice in today's
Boston Globe discusses her recent work in cancer genetics at the Dana
Farber Cancer Institute and briefly mentions her pioneering work on
extranuclear DNA in algae, but gives no hint of how important her early
research was to development of Chlamydomonas as a model system.
A native of Chicago, Sager graduated from the University of Chicago, and
received a master's degree at Rutgers and her doctorate at Columbia
University. Her studies on Chlamydomonas began in the early 1950s, when
she received cultures of C. reinhardtii from G.M. Smith. Her first papers
(Sager and Granick, Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 56, 831-838, 1953; Sager and
Granick, J. Gen. Physiol. 37, 729-742, 1954) described the nutritional
control of the sexual cycle in this species, and were followed by two
classic papers on non-Mendelian inheritance of antibiotic resistance
(Sager, PNAS 40, 356-363, 1954; Sager, Genetics 40, 476-489, 1955) that
opened the entire field of organelle genetics. She pursued these studies
through a long career at Hunter College in New York City. In 1975 she
moved to Boston, where she began new research on breast cancer and tumor
suppressor genes at the Dana Farber Institute, eventually becoming chief of
cancer genetics there. She continued some work on Chlamydomonas for
several years longer, however, and attended our meetings through the 1980s.
She was the author of more than 50 papers on Chlamydomonas, and more than
200 publications altogether.
She is survived by her husband, Arthur B. Pardee, and two sisters. If
anyone would like to send a note to Dr. Pardee, an address can be supplied.
chlamy at acpub.duke.edu