AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. Paul Gottlieb, director of the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, died Saturday, Nov. 1, in Austin of liver cancer at the age of 59.
He became director of the school in the College of Natural Sciences in September 2001 after serving several years as chairman of the Section of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.
Dr. Paul Gottlieb
As the school’s director, he was both a creative scientist and an empathetic administrator dedicated to fairness and sacrifice whose influence on biological sciences at the university has left an enduring legacy. Professor Gottlieb worked unceasingly to increase the interactions between scientists who study whole organisms and ones like himself who study specific molecular processes. He expanded programs and helped increase funding for biological research and for graduate and undergraduate education.
Gottlieb received a bachelor’s degree in biochemical sciences from Princeton University in 1965. He then earned a doctor’s degree in life sciences from The Rockefeller University, working with Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman.
Dr. Edelman said, “Paul Gottlieb was an enormously gifted researcher whose wide-ranging skills in immunology and protein chemistry made a signal contribution to our understanding of antibody structure. It was a privilege to have him as a student and a colleague.”
Gottlieb was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University, and his first faculty appointment was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He came to The University of Texas at Austin as a professor in 1980. He mentored many undergraduate and doctoral students there who will miss his guidance, encouragement and friendship.
Gottlieb was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the New York Academy of Sciences. He studied cells that are an important component of the body’s defensive immune system, and is best known for his work on genetics in the immune system of the mouse.
In his early career, he made seminal contributions to deciphering the structure and function of antibodies, laying the groundwork for understanding the phenomenon of allelic exclusion in immune cells. Later, he focused on the mechanisms underlying how cytotoxic or “killer” T cells function. Gottlieb also discovered a new gene that encodes a protein important not only for T cell function but also for the developing cardiovascular system. Mice lacking this protein have an embryonic heart defect that has important implications for cardiac disease in children.
A co-author of more than 70 scientific articles, Gottlieb also served as an editor of various immunology journals and as a member of numerous committees for the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society. He was also an active member of the Town and Gown club in Austin, Texas.
Gottlieb was a native of New Brunswick, N.J. He is survived in Austin by his wife, Nell Gottlieb; his daughter, Erin A. Gottlieb, and son-in-law Eric A. Bedell from Galveston; his brother, Michael Gottlieb from Pasadena, Calif.; and his mother, Beatrice Gottlieb from Highland Park, N.J.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3, at Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Blvd. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Paul Gottlieb Memorial Fund at the School of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712.
For more information contact: Barbra Rodriguez, College of Natural Sciences, 512-232-0675.