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Fred Snyder

Dr. Fred Snyder

Dr. Fred Snyder, Medical Sciences Division associate director from 1962-1995

Dr. Fred Snyder joined Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) (then the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies) in 1958 as the director of the biological chemistry program in the Medical and Health Sciences Division.

While remaining as the biochemistry director, in 1975 he became assistant chairman of the Medical Division. His title changed several times, ending with associate director of the Medical Sciences Division in 1992, a position he held until he retired in 1995 after 37 years of service.

Snyder and the staff of the internationally known biochemistry program, which closed in 1995 as one of several smaller laboratories closed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), have made several significant contributions to the field of biochemistry. Under Snyder's direction, the program discovered in the late 1960s that ether lipids (fatty substances) are more common in cancer cells—a significant accomplishment. They then learned how cells make these lipids, which provided important information used by numerous other groups in investigating the role of lipids and membranes in cancer.

In 1979, they discovered the platelet activating factor (PAF) at approximately the same time as two other labs, one in Texas and the other in Paris. PAF plays a major role in inflammation and various physiological areas such as reproduction and blood pressure control. Certain drug manufacturers are now developing synthetic compounds with anti-inflammatory and tumor reducing capabilities based on the structure and function of PAF.

Under Snyder’s leadership, the biochemistry program received nearly $29 million in grants and DOE funding. Snyder also held a running American Cancer Society grant from 1967 to 1994 as part of the lipid research program.

Snyder earned his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in biochemistry from the University of North Dakota. He received a B.S. in biology and chemistry from St. Cloud State College. He has published more than 350 journal articles, served as editor on four books, and presented many invited lectures at both national and international conferences. Although he has retired, he remains an active and respected member of the biochemistry research community.