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Noun Shavit obituary

claude aflalo aflaloc at bgumail.bgu.ac.il
Wed Jul 2 11:16:37 EST 1997

Dear friends,

I am sad to announce that Prof. Noun Shavit passed away on June 19, 1997.
Apparently invincible, Noun was finally overwhelmed after a long, painful
and multiple phase struggle against a cancer.

Noun was born in Poland, raised in Argentina and emigrated to Israel as a
young man. He graduated in Chemistry at the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem, and pursued his studies at the Weizmann Institute of Science in
Rehovot where he acquired a Ph.D. degree in Bioenergetics under the
supervision of the late Prof. Mordechai Avron. He went on to postdoctoral
studies with Paul Boyer (UCLA) and Anthony San Pietro (Kettering

Noun Shavit started his independent carrier as a scientist at the Negev
Research Institute. He soon actively joined the pioneering effort to
establish a university-level program in biology in Beer-Sheva, which
became the nucleus of the future Ben Gurion University. In addition to his
research, Noun dedicated a significant part of his time and energy to the
University and contributed greatly to its successful development.  He
served as Chairman of the Biology Department, Dean of the Faculty of
Natural Sciences, and Director of the Doris and Bertie Black Center for
Bioenergetics at BGU, as well as member of many university committees.
Moreover he successfully led - as president elect of the steering
committee of the Israel Academic Staff organization - a struggle with the
government on faculty social rights and compensation.

Despite his active role in administration, Noun will be remembered first
as a leading biochemist. His scientific contribution focused on energy
transduction in photosynthesis. His initial studies were conducted with
lettuce chloroplast thylakoids and photosynthetic bacteria chromatophores,
in which the coupling between electron transport and phosphorylation was
investigated using partial reactions and specific inhibitors in the search
for energized states or intermediates. He dedicated an important part of
his work to the characterization of the activities of chloroplast coupling
factor and their modulation by bound nucleotides, using isolated vesicles,
purified proteins and unicellular green algae. His approach to the study
of chloroplast and thermophilic bacterial F1 structure and function
involved a broad spectrum of ideas and methodologies, always at the
frontiers of knowledge and technology. Thus his lab evolved from pure
bioenergetics to the use of genetic engineering as a central tool. As a
result, studies of transmembrane pH and ion gradients, tightly bound
nucleotides and diffusion gradients of ATP and ADP shared the same lab,
and were often integrated with the results of protein chemical
modification and site-directed mutagenesis. Such carefully metered
versatility is considered today to be the magic blueprint for success in
Molecular Biology.

Noun was very much aware of the importance of versatility and supervised
quite a few generations of students in this spirit. He received in return
the same high standards he demanded of himself, as well as the same
enthusiasm, scientific alertness and joy of creation which characterized
him until his last moments.

On the personal level, one cannot refrain from recalling his exuberance,
vitality and effervescent sense of humor, diluted with profound deference
and simplicity in his direct human relations.

We have lost a prominent scientist and a great friend.
He left behind Aliza, his wife, Nir and Eyal, their sons, and four
grandchildren including twin granddaughters born four days after his

The family can be reached at the following address:
	alshavit at bgumail.bgu.ac.il
or 	26 Shikma Street
	Meitar 85025 Israel

Claude Aflalo ######################## Phones: Office 972-7-6472118 ####
Dept. of Life Sciences				Lab   972-7-6472119
Ben Gurion University of the Negev	        Fax   972-7-6472890
P.O.Box 653				email:  aflaloc at bgumail.bgu.ac.il
Beer Sheva 84105 Israel	       URL: http://www.bgu.ac.il/life/aflalo.html

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