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Jonathan Widom

by Susan J. Ainsworth
October 3, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 40

Jonathan Widom, 55, the William Deering Professor of Molecular Biosciences in the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences at Northwestern University, died July 18 of an apparent heart attack. He was also the principal investigator of Northwestern’s Physical Sciences-Oncology Center.

Widom received a B.A. in chemistry from Cornell University in 1977 and a ­doctorate in biochemistry from Stanford University in 1982. He spent two years at the University of Cambridge on a postdoctoral fellowship before joining the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he became an assistant professor in 1985.

Widom joined the Northwestern faculty in 1991. In addition to holding appointments in the departments of molecular biosciences and chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences, he also held posts in the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

He chaired the department of biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology (now the department of molecular biosciences) from 1998 to 2004. He was also director of Northwestern’s Center for Structural Biology from 1994 to 2000.

In his research, Widom studied how DNA is packaged into chromosomes. His recent work focused on developing a unified framework to explain how changes in cell state or development can influence nucleosome positions.

Earlier this year, Northwestern honored Widom with the Martin E. & Gertrude G. Walder Award for Research Excellence.

Widom is survived by his parents, Ben and Joanne; brother, Michael; and sister, Elisabeth.

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