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Nadrian C. (Ned) Seeman (1945–2021)


Ned Seeman, pioneer of the sphere of structural DNA nanotechnology, handed away on November 16, 2021.

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Nadrian C. (Ned) Seeman was the primary to comprehend and show that DNA, aside from its pure capabilities, might be used as a structural body to design objects and units on the dimensions of nanometres. He was a consummate scientist within the purest sense, envisioning transformative, long-term targets, parsing them, and pursuing them intentionally over the course of his profession. On a private degree, he was keenly clever and insightful concerning each science and politics, and deeply appreciative of artwork and humanities. His communications might be bitingly articulate and might be as profane as they had been profound. But he was a staunch defender and devoted mentor of scholars and younger school. His astounding reminiscence allowed him to drag up obscure details crucial to initiatives in addition to suggestions of not solely eating places however most popular menu objects in lots of cities world wide.


Credit score: Photograph by James Canary

Seeman was born in Chicago on 16 December 1945. He earned a bachelor of science diploma from the College of Chicago (1966) and a PhD in crystallography/biochemistry from the College of Pittsburgh (1970). He did postdoctoral coaching at Columbia College and at MIT. At MIT, he revealed a number of papers that helped to outline the construction of RNA. After beginning his skilled profession at SUNY Albany as a crystallographer, Seeman joined the school at NYU Division of Chemistry in 1988. His personal description of his schooling and profession path was typically vibrant: he quoted Mark Twain in describing his undergraduate days, saying “I didn’t let school intervene with my schooling.” When speaking about his time in Albany, he would by no means fail to say that it lasted “3,983 days”.

A ‘Sputnik child’, Seeman was influenced by his high-school biology trainer who launched him to the construction of matter and biology. Initially a pre-med scholar and biochemistry main on the College of Chicago, he was pissed off with the main focus at the moment on metabolic pathways. Deeply desirous about arithmetic, he switched to bodily chemistry. He didn’t start to excel in science till he started graduate work in crystallography on the College of Pittsburgh. There he was in a position to domesticate his love for 3D construction and symmetry that dominated his analysis for the remainder of his profession. His curiosity in biology led him to macromolecular crystallography, and he flourished as a postdoc within the lab of Alex Wealthy.

As an Assistant Professor, Seeman continued to grapple with macromolecular crystallization and the part downside in fixing molecular constructions from crystal diffraction. This downside, collectively along with his curiosity in artwork, and particularly symmetry, led to his inspiration for periodic DNA constructions. One afternoon, he realized that Escher’s woodcut, Depth, prompt a doable technique. Use of an outlined DNA crystal lattice in a position to encapsulate proteins or different molecules would permit options to in any other case intractable crystallographic constructions. Over the next 30 years, he would develop the methods wanted to attain this imaginative and prescient. The sector of structural DNA nanotechnology grew out of the rationale and methods that Seeman developed for this crystallography downside; and it’s this space that’s most widely known and appreciated at present. Totally 29 years after that afternoon within the Albany campus pub, he and associates realized the answer of a crystal construction of a designed 3D lattice of DNA at excessive decision.

Seeman’s work represents a pinnacle of creativity and accomplishment in molecular science. His realization of molecular expression of topological objects is unparalleled in every other self-discipline. He constructed a wide range of molecular machines, together with ‘walkers’ that might transfer in designed pathways on DNA trajectories, and in the end a DNA meeting line that picked up and delivered cargo. In latest work, he started to make use of these instruments to assemble nanoelectronic constructions, wherein merchandise are constructed from elements which might be no bigger than particular person molecules.

His work has attracted such curiosity that it has turn out to be a discipline in its personal proper; the sphere of structural DNA nanotechnology has grown to incorporate greater than 250 laboratories world wide. On this bigger neighborhood, functions have been made in various areas together with DNA-based computation, biomedical analysis, nanoelectronics, and photonics. Largely neglected by conventional scientific subdisciplines, Seeman created his personal. As a part of this effort, he based the Worldwide Society for Nanoscale Science, Computation, and Engineering and served as its first president.

He has been acknowledged by many awards, together with the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the American Chemical Society’s Nichols Medal, the Sidhu Award from the Pittsburgh Diffraction Society, a Widespread Science Journal Science and Expertise Award, the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, a Uncover Journal Rising Expertise Award, the Einstein Professorship of the Chinese language Academy of Sciences, the Jagadish Chandra Bose Triennial Gold Medal, and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry, amongst many others. He was an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and fellow of the American Affiliation for the Development of Science.

Science not often sees a artistic genius like Ned Seeman. His creations on the nexus of biophysics, chemistry, and arithmetic gave rise to a brand new discipline of analysis that guarantees transformative contributions to nanoscale expertise. With a rugged exterior, he was a mild big, a caring and giving one who shall be sorely missed.

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James W. Canary or Hao Yan.

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Canary, J.W., Yan, H. Nadrian C. (Ned) Seeman (1945–2021).
Nat. Nanotechnol. 17, 108 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-021-01065-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-021-01065-1

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