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April 28, 2005

Obituary: Mary P. Edmonds

Noted Pitt biochemist Mary P. Edmonds, professor emerita of biological sciences, died April 16, 2005, of complications related to a heart attack. She was 82.

Edmonds’s research on messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid) led to the discovery of protein sequences that allow RNA to carry genetic instructions from a cell’s nucleus to the cellular mechanisms that make proteins. The work was rewarded with her election to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences in 1991.

A native of Racine, Wis., Edmonds began her career in Pittsburgh in 1955 as a research associate at Montefiore Hospital. She was appointed adjunct research professor at the Graduate School of Public Health in 1962, followed by appointments as assistant research professor (1965) and associate research professor (1967) at the public health school.

She was named associate professor of biochemistry in Arts and Sciences (1971), followed by a promotion to professor of biological sciences (1976). She was named professor emerita in 1992.

Edmonds was awarded an honorary doctor of science by Lawrence University (1983) and Pitt’s Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award (1989). She was named woman of the year in science by Chatham College in 1986.

Edmonds earned a B.A. at Milwaukee-Downer College in 1943; an M.A. at Wellesley College in 1945, and a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1951.

She received a U.S. Public Health Service Research Career Development Award (1962-1965) that was renewed (1966-1971).

Author of more than 50 scientific articles, a participant in over 30 symposia and workshops, and a frequent lecturer, Edmonds held membership in Phi Beta Kappa, the American Society of Biological Chemists and the American Association of Cancer Research.

Edmonds is survived by a sister-in-law, Helen Duffy Edmonds; nephews Michael, Anthony, Phillip and Bernard of Appleton; nieces Sarah and Martha Doyle, and eight grandnieces and nephews.

An on-campus memorial service is being planned.

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