Yoichi Iitaka (1927-2006)
Yoichi Iitaka, Emeritus Professor of the University of Tokyo, died on April 1, 2006 after struggling against cerebral hemorrhage for several years. He was born in 1927 in Yamanashi Prefecture in central Japan. He was educated and worked at the University of Tokyo. After receiving his Ph. D. degree in 1959, he studied the structures of inorganic and mineral crystals in Britain and Switzerland before becoming an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University in 1961. During this period he discovered and determined two new crystal forms of glycine. From 1967 to 1988, he taught students structural and analytical sciences, and carried out X-ray crystallography research. He also held a professorship at the Teikyo University of Science and Technology until his retirement in 1997.
He was quiet but full of deep and ardent insight into the structural sciences. He started with mineralogy, and went on to determine the structures of many important biological molecules, including peptides, nucleic acids, antibiotics, natural products, organic and medicinal compounds, and mutagenic substances. He extended his research to include biological macromolecules, determining the structures of such proteins as microbial ribonucleases, and the proteinase inhibitor SSI as well as its complex with subtilisin BPN’.
He was active within the crystallographic community in Japan successively serving as a member of the Japanese Crystallographic Society Council and the Japanese National Committee for Crystallography over a period of 25 years. He contributed to the success of IUCr Kyoto Conference in 1972, and served as Society President in 1985. He was very good at crystallographic instrumentation, building detectors and diffractometers. From the early days of crystallographic computing, he directed his efforts toward the development of computer software, hardware, and databases. He contributed to the establishment and organization of large-scale computing facilities for Japanese universities and the synchrotron radiation facilities of the Photon Factory of KEK.