Department News & Highlights

Darwin J. Prockop, MD, PhD, Former BMB Department Chair, Dies at 94

Darwin J. Prockop, MD, PhD, a biochemist and molecular biologist who was the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Chair  (1986 to 1996) died January 22, 2024 at the age of 94

Darwin Prockop was born in Palmerton, PA in 1929. He received his bachelor’s degree from Haverford, a master’s degree from Oxford, an MD from Universtiy of Pennsylvania, and a PhD from George Washington University. 

Dr. Prockop was first and foremost a scientist who was curious about how cellular systems work and how mutations cause disease. He is best known for his contributions to the fields of connective tissue disease and mesenchymal stem cell biology. He was an elected member of several societies including the National Academies of Sciences (1991), the National Academy of Medicine (1992), and the National Academy of Inventors (2014) and received numerous other awards in recognition of his scientific work. Dr. Prockop started his faculty career at Univeristy of Pennsylvania before moving to become Professor and Chair of Biochemistry at UMDNJ (Piscataway). He published nearly 600 scholarly articles (169 while at Jefferson).

Dr. Prockop trained numerous pre- and post- doctoral scientists who went on to leadership positions in science. His passion for science was contagious and he took joy in mentoring undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. He was involved in the establishment of several educational programs at Jefferson including a summer internship program for undergraduate students and Jefferson’s MD/PhD program. Over a dozen tenure-track faculty were recruited into the department under his leadership as Chair, which contributed to a substantial expansion in the scope and scale of research at Jefferson.

Although he spent his later years in leadership positions at institutions, including Tulane and Texas A&M Universities, he was a Philadelphian at heart and commuted weekly from those institutions to his home in Society Hill, located just blocks from the Jefferson campus. His wife, Ellie predeceased him in 2014. He is survived by his children, Susan and David, their spouses, Kristie and Hope, and by grandchildren, Molly and Lyle Prockop.