RAYMOND REISER, 95, Pioneer Biochemist. Dr. Raymond Reiser, Ph.D., a leading research scientist in lipid chemistry and cholesterol, died November 15, 2001 in Houston, Texas. A Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Biochemistry at Texas A&M University, he was 95 last July. From 1940 to 1976 he was an active member of the faculty at Texas A&M, leaving only during WWII to serve as a Captain and Clinical Chemist in the U.S. Army at stateside and European hospitals. In 1960 he received the National Institute of Health's Research Career Award in Research and in 1965 was made Distinguished Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. He received his Emeritus status in 1976, but continued going to his laboratory until 1987 and as late as 1990 made a contribution to a major series of scientific volumes entitled Meat and Health. "Raymond Reiser was one of the true scientific pioneers at Texas A&M," said Dr. Mack Prescott, former Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Science at A&M. "He arrived on campus at a time when what research did exist focused only on applications. Dr. Reiser proved capable of excelling at both applied and basic research, emphasizing the latter, throughout his long career. His work on lipids brought international recognition to the university he loved and served." According to Dr. Robert Wells, Director, Center for Genome Research, at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, "Dr. Reiser made fundamental and seminal contributions to our understanding of the biochemistry of polyunsaturated fatty acids in addition to the role of diet, blood lipids, and lipoproteins in atherosclerosis. He was always on the cutting edge of technology and techniques, leading the way in the use of radioisotopes, chromotography, and electronics in biochemical research." He was often called upon as expert in proceedings involving the peanut oil, egg, and dairy, and meat industries. Dr. Mack Prescott, former Dean of Science at Texas A&M, once said, "Ray Reiser was the man who brought science to Texas A&M." Dr. Reiser was born in Philadelphia, PA, July 28, 1906, and graduated from Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, in 1929. He received his doctorate in biochemistry in 1936 from Ohio State University, which honored him with their Centennial Achievement Award in 1970. He was a Fellow from the American Institute of Nutrition and was a Fellow, President, and Member, Board of Governors, of the American Oil Chemists Society. He was also President, Southwestern Section, of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine and President, Texas A&M-Baylor Section, of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of both Sigma XI and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. He received numerous additional national awards, including the Norman A. Borlag Award for contributions to agriculture and the Alton E. Bailey award from the American Oil Chemists Society in 1974 and 1976, respectively. An active researcher, with over 150 peer-reviewed publications, he was also a widely-sought lecturer, speaking in over sixteen countries, including lectures in Beijing and Xian at the invitation of the China Center for Preventative Medicine in 1985. At Texas A&M, he was a charter faculty member of the Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition in 1947 and was a driving force behind the food technology program at the university. Over the years, 19 of the graduate students in his laboratory received their Ph.D. degrees and went on to important careers in academic, industrial, and medical research. In addition, he trained at least eight postdoctoral fellows and four visiting scientists and for many years taught biochemistry to students in the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine. His wife, Shirley, who died in 1995, was the Director of the Hillel Foundation at Texas A&M for over 20 years. For almost half a century, Raymond and Shirley Reiser were the key representatives of the Jewish community at Texas A&M and Brazos County. Dr. Reiser is survived by his son Richard and his wife Gail Cason, son Donald and his wife Gay Yellen, grandson Damon, granddaughter Cyvia, grandson Martin and his wife Brenda Fikac, and great-grandson Richard Raymond. GRAVESIDE SERVICES: 1:30 P.M. Sunday, November 18, 2001, Bryan City Cemetery, Bryan, Texas, Rabbi Shaul Osadchey of Congregation OR AMI officiating. The family suggests that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Raymond Reiser Lecture Series in Biochemistry, established in 1986 at the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Nov. 16, 2001.