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Neylan Anthony Vedros
In Memoriam

Neylan Anthony Vedros

Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Emeritus

UC Berkeley
Neylan Vedros passed away peacefully on June 24, 2017, in Healdsburg, Calif., surrounded by his family. Born October 6, 1929, the fifth of 13 children, he grew up in St. James Parish, Louisiana. He was survived by his wife of 62 years, Elizabeth Beryl Corbett, two daughters, Sally and Philippa, and two grandchildren.

Neylan was a graduate of Louisiana State University (LSU; B.S., Chemistry, 1951) and after a three-year stint with the U.S. Navy, continued on at LSU to receive an M.Sc. in mycology in 1957. He earned a Ph.D. in medical microbiology from the University of Colorado in 1960. From 1960 to 1962, he had a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the University of Oregon Medical School, Portland.  He continued his service with the Navy in the Medical Service Corps as a research microbiologist at the Naval Medical Research Institute, Bethesda, Maryland (1962-1966).

Neylan moved west in 1966 to take a position as an associate bacteriologist at the Naval Bioscience Laboratory in Oakland, an Organized Research Unit affiliated with the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1967, he was appointed associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology in the school and was advanced to the full professor rank in 1972. He held administrative leadership roles in the school, including as vice chairman of the faculty from 1973-74, then chairman in 1974-75. He also served on committees of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate (Committee on Courses, 1973-76, and Assembly Representation, 1975-77).

He was appointed scientific director of the Naval Biosciences Laboratory in 1968, a position he held until 1981.  That year also marked the end of his 24 years of service in the U.S. Navy (Active & Reserves), retiring with the rank of commander.

Neylan’s research at the Naval Bioscience Laboratory through the 1970s focused on the bacterial genus Neisseria and the diseases it causes in humans, principally gonorrhea and meningitis. His laboratory was internationally recognized for its work on the taxonomy and strain variation in this genus; this work contributed to the subsequent development of strain specific vaccines against Neisseria meningidis. His lab was designated a Neisseria Reference Center for the World Health Organization and he was a member of the World Health Organization’s expert panel on bacterial diseases. In the late 1970s, Neylan developed a second research interest: microbial diseases afflicting marine mammals. Part of the attraction of this area was the challenge of applying his broad knowledge of microbiology to a field in which little was known. His was one of the few laboratories in the world doing basic research on marine mammal diseases and he was a frequent consultant to aquatic animal organizations, ranging from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif., to the Ocean Park Aquarium, Hong Kong.

Neylan retired from Berkeley in 1991 after 24 years in the academic ranks. Following his retirement, he founded Vedros Biosciences Laboratories, where he developed and marketed products for use on viral and inflammatory skin diseases in animals that were in close contact with humans, reptiles, birds, and horses for example.

Neylan never lost the touch of his Louisiana upbringing: he was kind and gracious in the best way. His combination of wide-ranging interests and a gentle sense of humor made for good conversations. He was a good scientist, a good colleague, a good mentor, and a friend to many.

George Sensabaugh