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Emil Harutyunyan (1935-1998)

[Emil Harutyunyan]Prof. Emil Harutyunyan, Russian protein crystallographer, died in Moscow on Oct. 8, 1998, at the age of 62.

Emil was born on Oct. 10, 1935, in Erevan. He graduated from the Erevan State University in 1957 and joined the Instituted of General and Inorganic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow as a post-graduate student, where he was supervised by Mikhail Porai-Koshits. His Ph.D. Thesis was devoted to X-ray diffraction study of a series of uranium and thorium compounds.

In 1966, Emil began his work in the Institute of Crystallography at the Lab. of Biocrystal Structures with Boris Vainshtein. He was one of the pioneers in X-ray protein crystallography in Russia. Emil took an active part in solving the first three-dimensional protein structure in Russia, namely, the structure of the oxygen-binding plant protein leghaemoglobin, at high resolution. The three-dimensional structures of inorganic pyrophosphatase, formate dehydrogenase, and a number of pyridoxal-dependent enzymes, were determined under his supervision. His research in X-ray crystallography resulted in the publication of about 150 journal articles.

He was a very good teacher. Fourteen young scientists supervised by Emil, received their Ph.D., and are presently working in the best protein crystallography laboratories of the world. After the death of Boris Vainshtein in 1996, Emil succeeded as Head of the Lab. of Biocrystal Structures at the Institute of Crystallography. In spite of the troublesome times, he acquired research facilities, tirelessly fostered a collaborative atmosphere in the laboratory, and contributed substantially to the development of protein crystallography in Russia.

Emil was a scientist of unique research talent and an amicable person. He was always cheerful and enthusiastic. He was not afraid to take up the most ambitious problems and never failed to implement them with success. He will remain in our grateful memory forever.

William Melik-Adamyam and Tatiana Safonova