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Tetsuo Otsuki

by Susan J. Ainsworth
May 28, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 22

Tetsuo Otsuki, 69, a professor of chemistry at Occidental College, in Los Angeles, died of multiple myeloma on March 14.

Born in Kyoto, Japan, Otsuki received a B.S. in 1965, an M.S. in 1967, and a Ph.D. in 1977, all in chemistry from Kyoto University.

He was a research chemist at Fuji Photo Film before he joined the faculty of Kyoto Women’s University and later Kyoto University.

From 1977 to 1979 he worked at the University of Chicago as a research associate in Emil T. Kaiser’s lab, conducting semisynthetic enzyme research. By linking flavin to papain, Otsuki was first to convert a proteolytic enzyme to a redox enzyme.

After returning briefly to Kyoto University, Otsuki taught at Southern Illinois University and then at Pennsylvania State University, Schuylkill. In 1986, he joined the chemistry faculty at Occidental, where he conducted research focusing on the photochemistry of quinones and furocoumarin.

Otsuki was named Occidental’s Bertha Harton Orr Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in 2005, and he received the college’s Graham L. Sterling Memorial Award in 2002, a MacArthur Fellowship in 1990, and the Progress Award from the Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Japan, in 1980. He joined ACS in 1977.

Known for bicycling to work in the predawn hours wearing an Occidental football helmet, Otsuki also enjoyed growing roses, knitting, and making chocolate chip cookies for his students before exams.

His daughters, Sachiko Noda and Nahoko Jean, and a grandchild survive him.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.



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