Honorary doctor Abba Jeremiah Kastin • In memoriam

2022-04-06

Professor Abba Jeremiah Kastin, American researcher and Honorary doctor at Uppsala University's Faculty of Pharmacy, has passed away. He died peacefully in his home in Sedona, Arizona, at the age of 87.

Professor Abba Jeremiah Kastin (1934-2022)
Professor Abba Jeremiah Kastin (1934-2022)

Abba was born to Isadore and Ruth Kastin in Cleveland OH on Dec. 24, 1934. He enlisted at Harvard Medical School (Class of 1960), before continuing his medical and research training at Vanderbilt University and the National Institute of Health (NIH), followed by a flourishing career in neuroendocrinology research at Tulane University and then Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

The initial reason that Professor Abba Jeremiah Kastin went to New Orleans from the NIH was to work with Dr. Andrew Schally using complementary skills. Dr. Schally was later awarded the Nobel prize for the discovery of LHRH hormone that had many breakthrough clinical applications, including the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, and the two of them maintained life-long friendship.

Professor Kastin started his independent career when the field of neuropeptide was full of dogma, and it was ridiculed when he stated that peptides in the periphery may have effects on the central nervous system. He carried on with tenacity and showed that specific peptides, adipokines, and neurotrophic factors cross the blood-brain barrier whereas others do not. During the course, he firmly established himself in subspecialties of neurobehavior, pharmacology, cellular imaging, signaling pathways, and molecular biology. Many years later, when his group first reported the essential regulatory role of astrocytic leptin system in obesity, he encountered similar disbelief before others claimed that they were the first to say so. Graciously, he was no longer bothered by these norms in the research field.

Professor Kastin was the founding editor-in-chief for the international journal Peptides, which he edited for 35 years. He was also president of the International Neuropeptide Society, recipient of three honorary doctorates – the last being from Uppsala University’s Faculty of Pharmacy in Sweden, nine honorary society memberships, and many other career awards. He was among the 100 most cited scientists and had a high H-index of 95 reflecting academic achievement. He retired as a professor and the Mary Kay and Terrel Brown endowed chair from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in 2017.

Abba was a faithful Jewish man. He was active in Jewish societies, art and music events, and charity work. After his competitive swimming at Harvard varsity traveling squad and rowing in the house crew, he continued swimming for most of his life. After playing in the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra for all four years and the civic symphony in New Orleans for many more, he continued to practice viola for decades. Besides being a generous alumnus, he donated his major collection of New Guinea art to the Museum of Art in New Orleans. He established an endowed chair for Neuroscience at Ariel University in Israel. He traveled to more than 160 countries, photographed, and interacted with many locals in remote destinations as well as fellow travelers. He enjoyed philosophy, fine cuisine, and beautiful scenes of nature. He was a conservative Republican in the US. He made Aliyah in 2021 to be a proud citizen of the State of Israel. Abba enjoyed life to the fullest and had no regrets.

Professor Abba Kastin has been of great importance to Uppsala University's Faculty of Pharmacy - as well as to researchers at several other of the university's faculties, both through his scientific findings and through many research collaborations with peptide researchers. Many students and PhD students have also benefited from the contacts offered with Abba Kastin and his staff. He was seen as an obvious and worthy researcher to receive an honorary doctorate at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the Linnaeus Promotion in May 2007. Now, a true giant in the world  of medical-biological research has passed away, a much appreciated person who will leave a void behind. Abba Kastin's memory will live on well into the future.

Fred Nyberg
Professor e.m.
Faculty of Pharmacy

Mathias Hallberg
Professor, Dean
Faculty of Pharmacy

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Last modified: 2022-03-31