Skip to main content
Gordon Sato
In Memoriam

Gordon Sato

Professor of Biology

UC San Diego

Professor Gordon H. Sato, a pioneer in understanding the protein growth factors that allowed mammalian cells to grow in tissue culture, died at the age of 89 on March 31st. As an outcome of his work at UCSD, Gordon and coworkers made the first monoclonal antibody against the EGF receptor (now called Eribitux or Cetuximab) to be developed into an effective therapeutic for human cancers.

After he left UC San Diego, Gordon became the Director of the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center in Lake Placid, NY.

Gordon’s father was a Japanese immigrant, and at the start of World War II, Gordon and his family were ‘relocated’ to the Manzanar camp in the Owens Valley. Gordon was a PhD student at Caltech with Max Delbruck, and a professor at UCSD from 1969 to 1983. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1984.

While at the Jones Cell Science Center, Gordon founded the Manzanar Project, which was aimed at the development and dissemination of mangrove forest-based aquaculture that could provide food and income for poor countries. This was particularly successful in Eritrea, where approximately one million mangroves were planted in desert coastlines, which allowed villages to prosper in a country that has little arable land. A significant finding of this work was that the judicious application of nutrients could turn otherwise sterile intertidal regions into productive ecosystems.

Gordon is survived by his wife C. Josette Gaudrea, his children Denry, Susan, Nathan, Nancy, Sara and Amy and by six of his grandchildren.

William McGinnis
Dean, Division of Biological Sciences