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VUMC mourns loss of renowned scientist Jane Park

Aug. 21, 2019, 3:31 PM


by Bill Snyder

Jane Park, PhD, an active member of the Vanderbilt University faculty for 60 years and widow of pioneering diabetes researcher Charles Rawlinson “Rollo” Park, MD, died Aug. 19 in Nashville. She was 94.

Jane Park, PhD

A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Christ Church Cathedral at 900 Broadway. Visitation will be held immediately prior to the service at 1:30 p.m.

Dr. Park and her husband, who died in 2016, contributed a combined total of more than 100 years of service to the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

The former Jane Harting was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1925. She earned her doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis in 1952 — the year Dr. Rollo Park was appointed chair of the Department of Physiology at Vanderbilt. They married in 1953 and she joined the Vanderbilt faculty the next year.

For many years, Dr. Park, a member of what became the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, focused her research on glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase. She became nationally recognized for her mechanistic studies of this enzyme.

Around 1975 Dr. Park began studying muscular dystrophy using a hereditary model of the disease in chickens. She used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and eventually magnetic resonance imaging to study muscle function in a variety of muscle diseases.

Like her husband, Dr. Park trained dozens of scientists, many of whom went on to have distinguished careers. She also held leadership positions in science, including chairing the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute of Aging.

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