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Ronald W. Estabrook

by Susan J. Ainsworth
January 6, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 1

Ronald W. Estabrook

Ronald W. Estabrook, 87, professor emeritus of biochemistry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who was world renowned for his knowledge of enzymatic reactions related to toxicology and steroid hormone biosynthesis, died on Aug. 5, 2013, of congestive heart failure.

Born in Albany, N.Y., Estabrook served in the Navy in the Pacific.

Later, he obtained a B.S. in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1950 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Rochester in 1954. He conducted postgraduate research at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Cambridge.

He was recruited to join UT Southwestern in 1968 as its Virginia Lazenby O’Hara Chair in Biochemistry. At that time, Estabrook had already conducted breakthrough research on the hemoprotein molecule known as cytochrome P450. His work over the years on the biological functions of cytochrome P450 significantly furthered scientific understanding of how the body metabolizes drugs, pollutants, and environmental chemicals, including carcinogens.

Estabrook served as the first dean of the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He was named Ashbel Smith Professor Emeritus upon his retirement in 2006. Two years later, UT Southwestern named one of its six colleges in his honor.

He was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1975 and the National Academy of Sciences in 1979. Estabrook was a member of ACS from 1976 until 2008.

He received numerous awards, including the Doherty Award from ACS’s Dallas-Fort Worth Section and the Southwest Regional ACS Award.

Survivors include his wife, June; three daughters, Linda Gilbert, Laura Verinder, and Jill Wisehart; a son, David; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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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