American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
Theodore Peters, PhD
2002 Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry

Theodore Peters, Jr., PhD, DABC, FACB, developed a fascination with chemistry as a young boy in Chambersburg, PA, watching his physician father perform Fehling tests for urinary sugar and hanging around the back room of the nearby apothecary. He graduated summa cum laude from Lehigh University in chemical engineering and, after serving as a submarine radar officer during World War II, obtained a PhD in biological chemistry from Harvard. After holding faculty positions at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and Harvard Medical School, interspersed with another 2 years of naval service in the Korean War, he arrived in 1955 at The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, a teaching hospital in Cooperstown, NY, where he has remained ever since.

His position at the Bassett Hospital was that of Research Biochemist, and he was free to pursue projects on his own interest. These centered on plasma proteins, particularly serum albumin, which he had encountered serendipitously and which became the focus of his doctoral thesis. He was the first to show the production of a specific protein by liver slices and defined the intracellular pathway by which newly formed albumin reaches the circulation. Dr. Roberta G. Reed joined the research group in 1973, and together they studied the structure of albumin, including the important sites that transport long-chain fatty acids and bilirubin.

As the only chemist at the Bassett Hospital, Dr. Peters began managing the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory in 1955. Eager, even desperate, for help in the clinical field, he was delighted when the late Dr. Royden N. Rand of Rochester recruited him in founding the Upstate New York Section of AACC. The original group of seven became his close friends and they were always available to answer queries and offer suggestions by telephone. He took his turn as Chairman of the Section in 1963-1964 and has continued to keep up with its activities.

Dr. Peters became involved in national AACC affairs when he innocently wrote to Dr. George N. Bowers, then Chairman of the Standards Committee, noting that there might be better ways to standardize the measurement of total serum protein than the Kjeldahl procedure. He promptly found himself chairman of a subcommittee, which in time established a standard biuret method for total protein along with a Standard Reference Manual (SRM) of highly pure bovine albumin. This procedure and its SRM were subsequently adopted by the NCCLS and remain the primary standard for plasma protein analysis. He soon became chairman of the AACC Standards Committee and of the NCCLS Area Committee for Clinical Chemistry and, in 1977, received the AACC Award for Research in the Area of Plasma Proteins.

From 1970 until 1984, Dr. Peters served on the Board of Editors of Clinical Chemistry; he was Chairman of this Board for 3 years. He has served on the AACC Awards Committee, the Committee for Science, the Archives Committee, and two National Meeting Committees; he has also served as a Director, as National Secretary, and in 1988, as AACC President. During his term as President, he visited more than two-thirds of the Local Sections, promoted increased communication with individual AACC members and with Local Sections, and encouraged closer ties between AACC and the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry (NACB), the Canadian Society for Clinical Chemistry, and the American College of Pathologists. His idea of AACC is a family of friends who call any member by his or her first name and can freely call each other for advice.

Dr. Peters has been Chairman of the Food and Drug Administration Clinical Chemistry Classification Panel and has served on other panels with the National Bureau of Standards and the Committee on Blood Fractionation. He has held appointments as Adjunct Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Columbia University and as Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry and of Pathology at Albany Medical College. His work in both basic research and clinical chemistry has led to more than 125 publications and, following his retirement to emeritus status in 1988, to the publication in 1996 of a single-author book, All about Albumin: Biochemistry, Genetics, and Medical Applications (Academic Press), which is currently in its second printing.

1991 Outstanding Contributions Through Service to the Profession of Clinical Chemistry

Theodore Peters, Jr., will receive the 26th annual AACC Award for Outstanding Contributions through Service to the Profession of Clinical 1314 CLINICAL CHEMISTRY, Vol.37, No. 7, 1991 Chemistry. The award is sponsored by Instrumentation Laboratory.

Dr. Peters was born in Chambersburg, PA, and received a B.S. in chemical engineering summa cum laude from Lehigh University. He began graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before entering the U.S. Navy during World War II. In 1950, he received a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from Harvard University, studying serum albumin biosynthesis under Dr. Christian B. Anfinsen. He taught biochemistry in the medical schools of both the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University and spent two years in the naval submarine force during the Korean War before becoming a research biochemist at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, NY, in 1955. He held this position until semi-retirement in 1988.Dr. Peters’ research has centered on plasma proteins, particularly serum albumin: its structure, function, and biosynthesis. He was one of the first to show its production in vitro and to define the pathway that newly formed albumin follows through the liver cells to plasma.Dr. Roberta G. Reed joined his research group in 1973, and together they helped define the sites on the albumin molecule that bind important biological ligands such as longchain fatty acids and bilirubin.

Dr. Peters’ involvement in clinical chemistry began when he managed the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory at Bassett Hospital. Anxious to locate colleagues with whom to discuss clinical chemistry questions, he assisted Dr. Royden N. Rand in forming the Upstate New York Local Section of the AACC. He continues to be widely involved in the activities of this section and considers local section contacts to be one of the greatest benefits the AACC offers its members.In the late 1960s, because of his interest in analysis of plasma proteins, Dr. Peters joined the AACC Standards Committee and became involved in its efforts to standardize protein analysis. This project culminated in the adoption of a biuret Reference Method by the NCCLS and promulgation by the National Bureau of Standards of a Reference Albumin Standard that remains the basis for plasma protein analysis. He became chairman of the AACC Standards Committee and of the NCCLS Area Committee for Clinical Chemistry. In 1977, he received the AACC National Award for Research in the area of plasma proteins. For 10 years, Dr. Peters was a member (and then Chairman) of the Board of Editors of Clinical Chemistry. He has also been a member of the AACC Committee for Science, the Archives Committee, a Member at-Large of the Board of Directors, and AACC Secretary. In 1988, he became AACC President, and during his tenure encouraged closer relations between the AACC and the National Academy for Clinical Biochemistry, the Canadian Society for Clinical Chemistry, and the American College of Pathologists, and promoted the certification of clinical chemists by the AACC. Dr. Peters currently serves on the Industry Relations Committee and is Co-Chair of the 1992 National Meeting Planning Committee.

In addition to his active work with the AACC, Dr. Peters chaired the Food and Drug Administration Clinical Chemistry Classification Panel and served on advisory panels for the National Bureau of Standards and the Committee on Blood Fractionation. He holds joint appointments as Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Columbia University and Professor of Biochemistry and Pathology at Albany Medical College. He is the author of more than 110 research publications and remains active in clinical chemistry as a Research Scientist Emeritus at Bassett Hospital, where he researches, writes, and edits.Currently, Dr. Peters is preparing a book on serum albumin and is assisting the National Aeronautics and Space Agency in efforts to elucidate the structure of albumin through x-ray crystallography.

1988 AACC Past President’s Award

Dr. Peters served as AACC president in 1988.

1977 Outstanding Contributions in a Selected Area of Research

Theodore Peters, Jr., will receive the fifth AACC Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry in a Selected Area, sponsored by BioDynamics/bmc.

Dr. Peters, a native of Chambersburg, Pa., received his B.S. in chemical engineering (summa cum laude) from Lehigh University and his Ph.D. in biological chemistry from Harvard University.He started as a graduate assistant in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then, after three years in the Navy, went on to Harvard as a U. S. Public Health Service Research Fellow.He then became an instructor in physiological chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.After two years of active duty with the U. S. Navy in the Korean War, he became a biochemist specializing in radioisotopes at the V.A. Hospital in Boston, and an associate in biochemistry, Harvard Medical School.From 1955–74, he was an associate in biochemistry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University.

From 1955 to the present Dr. Peters has been research biochemist at The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital (affiliated with Columbia University) at Cooperstown, N.Y., and research coordinator from 1968.In 1976 he became adjunct associate professor in biochemistry at Columbia University.From 1969 on, he has been adjunct professor of pathology, Albany Medical College, and a consultant on an atherosclerosis project there.

Dr. Peter’s research interests are protein biosyntheses and protein structure—especially serum proteins—cell biology, and liver function and metabolism.He has over 60 publications, including 10 chapters in books that are chiefly on proteins.

Dr. Peters has been a member of the AACC since 1957 and a diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry since 1963.He has been a member of many AACC Committees, including the Committee on Standards, a consultant to the Commission on Plasma Fractionation, and is an AACC liaison member to the College of American Pathologists.From 1969 to 1976 he was on the Expert Panel on Proteins of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry.He is chairman of the Area Committee for Clinical Chemistry of the National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards, and chairman of the Clinical Chemistry Classification Panel of the FDA.He is also a member of the American Society of Biological Chemists, American Society of Cell Biologists, and the American Chemical Society.Since 1970 he has been a member of the board of editors of Experimental and Molecular Pathology, Preparative Biochemistry, and Clinical Chemistry.

Dr. Peters’ honors include Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi (eng.), and a Gold Medal Award in the Biological Division, Electron Microscope Society of America, San Francisco, 1966.He is a past-chairman of the Upstate N.Y. Section, AACC, and in 1976 received that section’s Michael Somogyi Award.During the same year he received the D.D. Van Slyke Award from the Metropolitan New York Section of the AACC.