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Tribute to Dr. Allan Yates

Dr. Allen Yates imageA Tribute to Dr. Allan Yates

Dr. Allan Yates, Emeritus Professor of Pathology and the Founder and First Director of the Integrated Biomedical Science Graduate Program and Medical Scientist Program (MSP), passed away August 3, 2010 while on vacation in the Arctic. View his obituary. ​

Allan J. Yates, MD, PhD. had a longstanding interest and active participation in both graduate education and biomedical research. Although “semi-retired” in 2007, Dr. Yates continued to use his vast experiences to advise many faculty and students at OSU. He became the director of the program in 2000 and made the theme of the program “The Biology of Human Disease”. Dr. Yates became the Director of the MD-PhD program (now called the Medical Scientist Program-MSP) in 2001. In 2003, Dr. Yates was appointed Associate Dean for Graduate Education for the OSU College of Medicine.

All of this describes some of the academic credentials of Dr. Allan Yates, and many more of his credentials are outlined below. But, what about Dr. Yates the academic mentor, friend, and colleague? Until Allan “semi-retired” in 2007, he devoted his time from 1999 almost exclusively to the Biomedical Sciences and MSP. The day before he left for the Arctic, he attended the orientation picnic that was held for the new 2010 incoming class. He just could not pass up the opportunity to meet the new recruits before he left on his trip. His parting words were “Let’s get together when I get back to discuss a few more ideas I have for the IBGP!” He tirelessly helped students. He was a modest man who did not need the limelight or praise to do his job well. Dr. Yates encouraged graduate students to do what they loved to do the most, solve problems. It was his unique vision of an interdisciplinary graduate program focused on the “Biology of Human Disease” that made the difference in focusing the long-range goals for many students today. Dr. Yates had a vision of what he wanted the Biomedical Sciences and MSP to be and what he needed to do to make it a reality. All of his program graduates wanted to become the best scientists possible, to make a difference in science, and to make the world a healthier place in which to live. It was Dr. Yates and his dedication to the Biomedical Sciences/MSP that helped these students get started to learn how to make their vision a reality.

Only by going back in time to examine the progression of Dr. Yates’ work with research education, are we able to understand how his very early vision influenced the direction of our graduate programs throughout the years. As an interdisciplinary researcher, Dr. Yates did not wait until tomorrow to shape a vision of a better tomorrow for our science, our trainees, and for all of us. If he were still here, he would continue to find solutions to increase funding of interdisciplinary research and to continue our search for ways to keep translational research attractive to everyone, especially the lay public. Because of Dr. Yates’ commitment to interdisciplinary research, our trainees will face fewer obstacles and more possibilities. In Dr. Yates’ memory, we need to start thinking about the changes we will have to make now in order to protect the climate of interdisciplinary research tomorrow. He would also want us to keep thinking of new and innovative ways to apply all of our basic knowledge from the bench to cure disease and improve health at the bedside. Yes, Dr. Allan Yates had a vision, and he will be so dearly missed.

Dr. Yates was very active in the scientific and graduate education arenas; the following is a brief synopsis of his credentials. At OSU he maintained an active research program with extramural funding for 28 years, 25 years of which he has received continuous funding from N.I.H. He published over 160 peer reviewed papers, 16 book chapters and co-edited three books. His basic research was on the glycolipid composition and function of normal and diseased nervous cells and tissues, and his translational studies were on glycolipids as diagnostic and prognostic indicators. He was a diagnostic neuropathologist in several clinical studies on the treatment of human gliomas with the Children’s Cancer Group (now the Children’s Oncology Group). He was the co-founder of Molecular and Chemical Neuropathology and Deputy Chief Editor of this journal for 17 years. Dr. Yates served as dissertation advisor for 13 students who received the PhD degree. Six of his students won a total of 10 awards for their dissertation research. He was also the advisor of six students who received the MS degree. He also trained 16 Postdoctoral Fellows and was the research advisor for 23 medical students. Dr. Yates served on the numerous advisory committees, PhD candidacy examinations, and PhD dissertation defense committees. He was also the outside reader for two PhD theses for the University of Calcutta and one for Cairo University. Dr Yates actively participated in five funded Training Program Grants, but, most importantly, Dr. Yates was the Director of the first training grant awarded by the NIH to the IBGP (T32GM068412).

Dr. Yates was director of the Division of Neuropathology since 1982. He was director of the Division of Research and Graduate Education for the Department of Pathology (1993-97) and was Vice-Chair for Research and Graduate Education in 1997. He was director of the Pathology Graduate Program (1993-2000) and as such was heavily involved in recruiting and curricular issues. He was the director for clinical neuropathology training at OSU (1984-94). He was a faculty member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program since 1986, and was a member of the Neuroscience Curriculum Committee (1986-90). He became the director of the program in 2000, and as such, he became the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee, the Recruiting Committee, and the Admissions Committee. He coordinated several Biomedical Sciences courses and made the theme of the program “The Biology of Human Disease”. Dr. Yates was also the Director of the MD-PhD program (now called the Medical Scientist Program-MSP) from 2001 until 2008. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the School of Biomedical Sciences, representing both the Biomedical Sciences and the Department of Pathology. He was a member of the Health Sciences Education Committee, the Committee of Education Deans, the Research and Graduate Council, and the Graduate Associate and Fellowship Committee. He was also the director of the Neuro-Oncology Program for the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center (1982-97). Dr. Yates was a member of the AAMC Graduate Research Education and Teaching (GREAT) Group since 2002 and was the President of this group in 2008. Dr. Yates was also elected to the Steering Committee of the National Association of MD-PhD Directors. He contributed to the organization of several scientific meetings at the local, national and international levels. In 2003, Dr. Yates was appointed Associate Dean for Graduate Education for the OSU College of Medicine.

Now, this is what we can call a job well done. This leader will be missed.


Written by:
Virginia M. Sanders, Ph.D.
Professor, Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics