University of California: In Memoriam, 1986

Ronald Edward Talcott, Laboratory Medicine: San Francisco

Associate Professor

Ronald Talcott was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. He spent his early years in Cedar City, Utah and Hastings, Nebraska.

He obtained his bachelor of science degree in pharmacy at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. While there, he worked closely with S.J. Stohs in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry in the University of Nebraska Medical Center. It was Stohs who encouraged him to master careful scientific principles and to study for an advanced degree.

Professor Talcott completed his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska in Pharmaceutical Sciences, and then did post-doctoral fellowship training at Yale University in Pharmacology and in Toxicology at the University of California, Berkeley. While at Berkeley, he worked closely with Eddie T. Wei, professor of health sciences in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. It was here that he began his studies of mutagenicity of hydroxyquinolines and related compounds. He also studied airborne mutagens as well as the activation by cytochrome p-450 system of carcinogens. In addition, he studied the basic mechanism of free radical toxicology of herbicides. After completing his post-graduate training at UC Berkeley, he then received a Visiting Scientist's Award in Vienna, Austria, working with Helmet Denk of the University of Vienna. He extended his earlier research endeavors by studying the effects of many different drugs and environmental chemicals on hepatic microsomal function.

Talcott joined the faculty of the University of California, Riverside as assistant professor in the Division of Toxicology and Physiology, where he identified impurities that were isolated from various pesticides that possessed mutagenic properties. He also examined the basic toxicology of organophosphate pesticides and identified mutagenic properties in various workplace aerosols.

He was recruited to enhance the basic toxicology program of the new Northern California Occupational Health Center and the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco School

of Medicine. He was an outstanding scientist; he worked closely with graduate students and occupational medical residents. He taught many courses in toxicology and pharmacology and supervised several graduate students. He worked closely with professors Becker and Pond to examine carboxylesterase and its toxicological significance. He helped to identify the mechanism of organophosphate delayed neuropathy with professors Becker and Lotti. He was particularly interested in the mechanism of free radical injury induced by paraquat, diquat and menadione.

In all of his scientific endeavors, Talcott was scientifically critical and always appropriately skeptical. He was a quiet and private person who never sought praise for himself. He was a unique individual with many talents. He and his beloved wife Karen were tragically killed in an automobile accident. His sudden demise was a personal tragedy for all who worked with him daily, for his family, and for all of his colleagues and students. A special scientific symposium published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health concerning quiniones as mutagens, carcinogens and anti-cancer drugs was presented in his honor.

All of his professional colleagues realized his unique skills and considered it a privilege to work with him. Those who knew him personally recognized him as being warmhearted and thoughtful. Talcott was always a positive person who set high goals for himself and lived life to the fullest.

The staff and faculty of the Northern California Occupational Health Center at the San Francisco General Hospital have dedicated a research library in his name as a memorial to Talcott. In this library, there are copies of his papers, unique photos and copies of the special symposia in his honor. It is hoped that this small memorial will honor Professor Talcott's scientific contributions and his creative thinking.

Charles E. Becker

About this text
Courtesy of University Archives, The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000;
Title: 1986, University of California: In Memoriam
By:  University of California (System) Academic Senate, Author
Date: 1986
Contributing Institution:  University Archives, The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000;
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