PULLMAN, Wash. — David E. Pettijohn, recognized professionally as one of
the leading DNA researchers in the United States, has received Washington
State University’s Alumni Achievement Award. He was honored today, Jan.
28, at a ceremony marking his retirement from the University of Colorado.
Pettijohn joined the University of Colorado Cancer Research Center in 1988 as
associate director of basic research and had been deputy director of the center
since 1994. He also was a professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at
the University of Colorado Medical School and at the University of Colorado
Health Sciences Center.
Much of his work involved cancer cell biology, chromosome structure,
targeting of DNA-binding proteins in chromosomes, and the role of specific
cell surface sugar polymer groups in the progress of human breast and lung
Pettijohn came to WSU from Tacoma and was a member of Delta Chi Fraternity.
After earning bachelor’s (1956) and master’s (1959) degrees in physics, he was
a research scientist with The Boeing Co. in Seattle for two years. Working on
the earth orbital satellite program there, he helped develop astronaut
environmental tolerance limits and personal protection equipment.
As a pre-doctoral Fellow at Stanford University, he studied DNA replication in
bacteria and effects of radiation damage on this process. He completed his
doctorate in biophysics at Stanford in 1964, then spent three years at the
University of Geneva as a U.S. Public Health Service postdoctoral Fellow in
Pettijohn joined the University of Colorado Medical School faculty in 1967,
where he served as vice chairman and acting chairman of the department of
biophysics and genetics.
He was a senior Fellow at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, 1983-84; a visiting
scientist at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen,1983-85; and a visiting scientist,
Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories, London, 1990-91.
More than two dozen doctoral students and postdoctoral collaborators have
trained in his laboratories. He has served on a number of editorial boards,
including Oncology Reports and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. He also
has been an invited symposia speaker at approximately 12 international