Department News & Highlights

In Memoriam: Hideko Kaji, PhD

January 1, 1932 - January 18, 2023

It is with heartfelt sadness that the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology notes the passing of our former colleague, Dr. Hideko Kaji. Dr. Kaji was an internationally-recognized scientist, with decades of fundamental discoveries to her credit. In 1968, when Marshall Nirenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize for defining “the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis” (along with Holley and Khorana), he graciously acknowledged in his Nobel lecture that his eureka moment came only because he stood on the shoulders of giants in his field. Among those whose critical discoveries he named were Avery, Beadle, Tatum, Watson, Crick, Sanger, Benzer, Brennan, Berg and Leder. On equal footing, he described how the “important findings” of Hideko and Akira Kaji on the association of tRNA and ribosomes, provided the “clue to the solution” of how base composition within codons specifies each amino acid. Dr. Kaji’s discoveries that were already a part of history when Nirenberg highlighted them half a century ago were only the beginning of an inspirational career that included 45 years at Jefferson.