Monday, 13 August 2018 16:33

In Memoriam: Roger W. Hendrix

Roger W. Hendrix, University of Pittsburgh Distinguished Professor, died on August 15, 2017 at the age of 74. He made many contributions to microbiology through his research on the structure, assembly and evolution of bacteriophages. He developed in vitro methods for viral assembly, thus laying the groundwork for detailed biochemical and structural analyses of the assembly process. In the early days of molecular biology, his findings on how viruses use bacteria to reproduce revealed a great deal about how the bacteria themselves work, which provided scientists with insight into other types of cells. Later, his studies of bacteriophage genomics impacted understanding of viral diversity and evolution.


After earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the California Institute of Technology (1965), Hendrix went to Harvard University for PhD studies on bacteriophage gene expression, working under James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. During that time, Hendrix did pioneering work on gene expression in bacteriophage lambda. After completing his PhD (1970) and his postdoctoral research with Dale Kaiser at Stanford University, he joined University of Pittsburgh (1973) and stayed there throughout his career, rising to full professor in 1986 and distinguished professor in 2009.


In addition to his scientific interests, Hendrix was an avid and accomplished musician; he played clarinet and recorder in the University of Pittsburgh orchestra, and together with his wife, played Baroque and Renaissance music on musical instruments from those time periods. He and his wife also engaged in backpacking and ice climbing, reaching an altitude record of 18,600 feet in Peru. 


Hendrix was a member of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. He served as Chair of ASM’s Bacteriophage Division (1988-89). He was recipient of the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award, Senior Scholar (1997) and was awarded the National Academy of Sciences Prize for Excellence in Scientific Reviewing (2009). He authored over 100 scientific papers during his career and served on many journal editorial boards and professional committees.


Adapted from several online obituaries; full obituaries available here:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

University of Pittsburgh University Times

The Scientist