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Biological Chemistry

Roger E. Koeppe

by Susan J. Ainsworth
July 20, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 29

Roger E. Koeppe, 87, emeritus professor of biochemistry at Oklahoma State University, died of pancreatic cancer on May 16 in Stillwater, Okla.

Born in China to American missionary parents, he earned a B.S. in chemistry in 1944 from Hope College, in Holland, Mich., and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1950, working on amino acid metabolism with William C. Rose.

After postdoctoral work with Rose and with John L. Wood at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, he joined the faculty of University of Tennessee Medical School, Memphis, in 1952. He moved to the faculty at Oklahoma State University in 1959 and served as head of the department of biochemistry from 1963 until his retirement in 1990.

Koeppe's research focused on intermediary metabolism and its control for normal brain function. He found that a small metabolically active pool of glutamine in mammalian brain is formed from glutamic acid, which is not in rapid equilibrium with tissue glutamic acid. The results help to explain the use of glucose, pyruvate, and fatty acids as alternative energy sources in the brain.

He was named 1989 Oklahoma Scientist of the Year by the Oklahoma Academy of Science. An emeritus member, he joined ACS in 1947.

Koeppe is survived by his wife, Norma; five children; 11 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Susan J. Ainsworth writes obituaries. Obituary notices may be sent to and should include a detailed educational and professional history.


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