Larry L. Needham | January 31, 2011 Issue - Vol. 89 Issue 5 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 5 | p. 73 | Obituaries
Issue Date: January 31, 2011

Larry L. Needham

Department: ACS News
Keywords: Obituaries, People

Larry L. Needham, 64, a chemist who led many of the environmental exposure measurement efforts at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and a preeminent human exposure assessment expert, died on Oct. 23, 2010, of renal cell carcinoma.

Born in Cairo, Ill., Needham received a B.S. in chemistry from Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro, in 1968 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Georgia, Athens, in 1972. He held postdoctoral fellowships at both Vanderbilt University and the University of Georgia.

After working briefly as an assistant professor at Auburn University and as a chemist at General Electric, Needham joined CDC in Atlanta in 1976. He remained there for more than 34 years, ultimately serving as chief of its Organic Analytical Toxicology Branch.

Lynn R. Goldman, dean of George Washington University’s School of Public Health & Health Services, credits Needham with developing and streamlining many of the analytical techniques used to quantify the environmental contaminants now routinely measured through CDC’s National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey program. “Larry was one of the heroes of chemistry,” she says. Around the world, he responded to chemical emergencies and worked with governments to eradicate disease.

Needham received numerous awards, including the 2010 Constance L. Mehlman Award for affecting policy from the International Society of Exposure Science (ISES). He was also named CDC Supervisor of the Year.

He served as ISES president and was elected its first distinguished lecturer. He was coeditor of the Persistent Organic Pollutants & Dioxins section of Chemosphere and served on the editorial boards of Environmental Health Perspectives and the International Journal of Hygiene & Environmental Health.

Needham authored or coauthored more than 350 peer-reviewed publications. He was a member of many organizations and a member of ACS from 1970 to 1999.

He was an avid golfer and tennis player and a fan of the University of Georgia Bulldogs and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a member of Dahlonega United Methodist Church.

Needham is survived by his wife of 38 years, Doris; son, Lance; and a grandson.

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