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February 28, 2005

Jay Roth, Biology Professor, Dies at 85

Jay Sanford Roth, professor emeritus of molecular and cell biology, died Feb. 7 in Woods Hole, Mass., of leukemia. He was 85.

Roth joined the University faculty in 1960. During his 27-year career at UConn, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in biochemistry and conducted cancer research. In 1962, he was honored with a lifetime fellowship at the National Cancer Institute.

“His students thought the world of him,” says Emory Braswell, professor emeritus of molecular and cell biology. “He was a compassionate man, for both his students and the world as a whole.”

Former student Arthur Kirschenbaum says Roth was the “ultimate gentleman and the most gracious advisor a graduate student could ever have. He treated his students as intellectual equals.”

Born in Cedarhurst, Long Island, Roth received a bachelor of science in chemistry from City College of New York, a master of science from Cornell, and a doctorate from Purdue University in organic chemistry and biochemistry.

Roth was initially drafted into Army infantry during World War II, but was soon transferred to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee to participate in the government’s Manhattan Project because of his background in chemistry.

He was a longtime Woods Hole summer resident, arriving in 1949 to begin a life-long association with the Marine Biological Laboratories, where he conducted research. After his retirement, he lived in Woods Hole full time.

In addition to writing more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific articles, Roth published several books, including All About Cancer and All About AIDS. He enjoyed playing tennis and was a member of a scientific poker fraternity in Woods Hole.

Roth had a positive outlook and was fascinated by all things scientific. After he was diagnosed with leukemia, he researched and attempted to devise groundbreaking treatment protocols.

He leaves eight children and four grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. on April 9, at the Church of the Messiah, 13 Church Street, Woods Hole. A reception will follow. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to UNICEF.