Symposium Celebrates Jonathan Widom's Love of Life and Science
Colleagues, collaborators, students, trainees, friends, and family of the late Jonathan Widom gathered in Evanston in March for the symposium “Unraveling the Mysteries of Life: Recognizing the Life of Jon Widom.” Nearly 200 participants came from around the world to celebrate Widom’s profound scientific contributions to chromatin biology. Widom, William Deering Professor of Molecular Biosciences and Chemistry who passed away on July 18, 2011, at age 55, was an internationally renowned expert on how DNA is packaged into chromosomes by structures known as nucleosomes, thereby forming chromatin. He made fundamental discoveries relating to how these nucleosomes are positioned along the DNA and the implications for how gene expression is regulated within the cells of the body, in both health and disease.
The daylong event celebrated the science about which Widom was so passionate and hailed a life well lived. Six outstanding investigators discussed aspects of chromatin biology and gene regulation, while speakers and session chairs, all long-time friends and collaborators, spoke of their personal experiences and recollections of Widom, describing the profound influence that he had on their careers and their research. Many spoke about his ability to bring analytical and biophysical approaches seamlessly to a field dominated by cell biology and genetics, and to bring diverse and collaborative groups of investigators together in productive discovery.
While the symposium focused on scientific advances, the stories shared by speakers and session chairs told a very endearing tale of Widom and his love of life, especially his fondness for cooking, good food, opera, and travel. Poetry, humor, and anecdotes punctuated the outstanding scientific talks and spoke to the strong legacy Widom left on the field of chromatin biology and on all who knew him. A generous gift from the Widom family has endowed a continuing scientific lectureship in his name to be held annually at Northwestern.Back to top