Sylvan M. Sax
1988 Outstanding Contributions through Service to the Profession of Clinical Chemistry

Sylvan M. Sax will receive the 23rd annual AACC Award for Outstanding Contributions through Service to the Profession of Clinical Chemistry. This award is sponsored by Fisher Medical Division, Division of Instrumentation Laboratory.

Dr. Sax was born in 1923 in Wheeling, WV. He received a B.S. in pharmacy (1944) and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry (1953) from the University of Pittsburgh. He was a National Science Foundation Research Fellow from 1952 to 1953. His doctoral research, done under Professor Klaus Hofmann, involved the analysis, separation, and identification of bacterial fatty acids.

After two years as a group leader in research at Glyco Products Company of Williamsport, PA, Dr. Sax began his career in clinical chemistry as chief biochemist and member of the medical staff of The Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. He remained there until his retirement in 1985. During those years he was active in teaching and research, and he participated in service functions of the hospital laboratory and in professional organizations.

Dr. Sax was an adjunct assistant professor in the departments of Biochemistry and Pathology of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (1957–1985). His other teaching activities included clinical chemistry instruction of medical-technology students and pathology residents at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital. He served as a member of the advisory committee to the clinical chemistry graduate program of Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH (1975–1979).

Dr. Sax’s research activities in clinical chemistry and biochemistry encompass a variety of areas, including lipids, drug metabolism, quality control, computer applications, and automated methods. However, in recent years his interest has been primarily in enzymology, with particular emphasis on methods of measurement and atypical forms of creatine kinase. He has written 30 research articles.

Dr. Sax has been active in the affairs of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, both locally and nationally, since he became a member in 1955. He was one of the founders of the Pittsburgh Section, drafted its first constitution, served as its first chairman and representative at national meetings, and wrote a history of the section (Clin Chem 1977;23:2166). In national AACC affairs, he served on the Subcommittee on Enzymes (1972–1974) and the Awards Committee (1975–1978). He has been active as a referee and reviewer for Clinical Chemistry and Selected Methods of Clinical Chemistry.

His professional activities outside of AACC are in the areas of quality control, enzymology, and regulation of laboratory practice. In 1963 Dr. Sax organized one of the earliest of the regional quality-control groups. The original group of 20 laboratories expanded into a statewide program under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Association of Clinical Pathologists; Dr. Sax was on that group’s steering committee. He served on the NCCLS Committee on Evaluation of Enzyme Kits (1974–1979) and on the NCCLS Sub-Committee on Enzymes (1980–1982). He was a member (1980–1983) of the advisory committee the Pennsylvania State Department of Health, established under that state’s Laboratory Improvement Act.

In addition to AACC, Dr. Sax is a member of such professional societies as the American Chemical Society, the Pittsburgh Pathology Society, the Pennsylvania Association of Clinical Pathologists, and the American Board of Clinical Chemistry (Diplomate, 1960).

In 1982, Dr. Sax became the sole nonphysician recipient of the Gold-Headed Cane Award of The Western Pennsylvania Hospital, “…representing the highest honor which may be bestowed on a member of the Medical Staff.”

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