University of California Seal

Robert Collett Warner


Robert Collett Warner

Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Emeritus




Dr. Robert Collett Warner passed away peacefully on Friday, March 25, 2005. Bob was born on August 31, 1913 in Chehalis, Washington. He received a B.S. from the California Institute of Technology in 1935, an M.S. from New York University in 1937 and a Ph.D. from NYU in 1941. Bob had a long and distinguished career as a scientist and educator. From 1941 to 1949 he worked as a chemist at the USDA Eastern Regional Laboratory. In 1946 he moved to NYU as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry. Bob moved from NYU to UCI in 1969 as Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. He became an Emeritus Professor in 1981.


Trained as a biochemist, Bob carried out research on the characterization and biophysical analysis of proteins and nucleic acids. Among his accomplishments was the development of a method used by Robert Holley to separate the first transfer RNA to be sequenced, for which Holley was awarded the Nobel Prize. Bob also demonstrated that denatured DNA could be renatured, and he made many important contributions to the structure of bacterial virus DNAs and intermediates in circular DNA recombination. He served on numerous NIH review panels, was an elected member of several scientific societies and was on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.  In 1958 he was a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and in 1969 he received the Great Teachers Award from NYU.


Beyond his scientific achievements, Bob was a wonderful, warm individual and committed mentor. Betty Thompson, one of his last graduate students, most remembers his compassion and Rick Fishel, another graduate student, his wry sense of humor. Bob is survived by his wife, Estelle, his children, Peter, Jisho (Carrie) and Victoria and his grandchildren, Dylan, Emily, Cynthia, Michael and Nicholas. Those of us who were fortunate to know Bob feel that we are also part of his family. He will be deeply missed, as Bob Warner was one of a kind.


Barbara Hamkalo
Professor Emeritus
Department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry