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Every spring, the Department of Biochemistry holds the Lata Symposium. This symposium celebrates the research accomplishments of Biochemistry undergraduates and provides graduating seniors an opportunity to present their research results to the Department and interested members of the public.Dr. Gene F. Lata was a professor in the Department of Biochemistry from 1950 to 1992. Dr. Lata organized the first undergraduate biochemistry curriculum in 1971, and served as the Director of the Biochemistry Undergraduate Majors Program until his retirement in 1992. In recognition of Dr. Lata's dedication to undergraduate education in biochemistry, his family, friends and the Department have established a fund in his honor. This fund supports the annual Lata Symposium, a celebration of the research accomplishments of our talented students who have completed a substantial research project during their undergraduate years.
Dr. Lata began his career with a BS in chemistry from the City College of New York. During World War II, he served in France with the U.S. Army Medical Corps. After the war, he received his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Illinois and joined the faculty at Iowa in 1950. In addition to his research on steroid hormones, Dr. Lata was a dedicated teacher, counselor and mentor to students. As the Director of the Biochemistry Undergraduate Majors Program, he personally advised hundreds of undergraduate biochemistry majors, many of whom have gone on to highly successful careers in science, dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, education, law, business and other professions. He and Dr. Robert Dryer wrote an undergraduate textbook entitled Experimental Biochemistry, based on the course that Dr. Lata developed and that biochemistry majors are still required to take. Dr. Lata passed away at age 80 on December 1, 2002.
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