In Memorium: Faculty Member Larry Oberly Passes Away

I write with great sadness to inform you of the death of Dr. Larry Oberley, who passed away at his home Monday, April 21, 2008. He was 62.

Dr. Oberley was the Director of the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Graduate Program, Department of Radiation Oncology at Iowa from 1998 until this past January. He was one of the originators of the Free Radical Theory of Cancer. In addition to Dr. Oberley’s scientific accomplishments he was a mentor to 19 M.S., 25 Ph.D. students, and 12 post-docs. He involved all his trainees as equal partners at every stage of the development of his cutting-edge research. In this regard Dr. Oberley has inspired a generation of Free Radical Biologists, expanding research efforts at The University of Iowa and throughout the world. Dr. Oberley’s efforts as a mentor have resulted in The University of Iowa becoming one of the premier institutions for Free Radical Biology and Medicine in the United States with the first Free Radical and Radiation Biology PhD degree granting program.

Dr. Oberley’s devotion to training the next generation of biomedical researchers was deeply rooted in his own belief that basic research could provide answers to human diseases. When he was diagnosed with irreversible kidney failure 35 years ago, his life was extended by dialysis. In the Acknowledgements section of the Superoxide Dismutase:Volume II book that he edited for CRC Press in 1982, he said “As my life has been prolonged by the wonders of science, I hope that the lives of others will be prolonged by the fruits of the knowledge contained in this volume.”

Despite the obstacles his disability presented, Dr. Oberley persevered. He quietly, selflessly, and with unwavering resolve devoted his life to the discovery of a cure for cancer as well as other diseases that involved free radical-mediated etiologies.

Dr. Larry W. Oberley received his B.A. from Northwestern University in 1968 and his Ph.D. in physics from The University of Iowa in 1974. He became a faculty member in 1975 at the University of Iowa where he rose to the rank of full professor in 1986.
He will be greatly missed by his family and friends as well as the faculty and students who have come to depend on his strength and wisdom. Please join me in sending condolences to his wife Kathleen, his daughter Rebecca, and son Christopher.

Douglas R. Spitz, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program
Department of Radiation Oncology
Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center
The University of Iowa
B-180 Med Labs
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-8001
Fax: 319-335-8039