Molecular biologist John N. Abelson will be honored this month as Washington State University’s 34th recipient of the WSU Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award.

A 1960 WSU physics graduate, Abelson will be presented with the award, the highest honor granted to WSU alumni, during the regents’ meeting at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 22, in Lighty 405.

Abelson is a pioneer in determining how the information in DNA is translated into the language of proteins. He is co-founder of a company that developed one of the first three drugs that slashed the death rate among AIDS patients in the mid 1990s.

Abelson is Beadle emeritus professor at Cal Tech and president of the Agouron Institute, an endowed charitable foundation.

Abelson will deliver a public address, “An Academic’s Adventure in Biotechnology,” at 12:10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, in Abelson Hall 201. In the afternoon, he will meet with WSU biotechnology and post-doctoral science students.

Abelson’s uncle, Philip Abelson, who was longtime editor of Science magazine and recipient of the President’s National Medal of Science, and aunt, Neva Martin Abelson, who was co-developer of the Rh-factor blood test, were the first and 23rd respective recipients of the WSU Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Abelson Hall is named for them. His grandparents homesteaded in Pullman and built their first home where Fulmer Hall now stands. His father, Harold, and brother, LeRoy, civil engineers, are also WSU graduates. His sister, Dorothy, spent one year at WSU. She married Larry Wibbenmeyer and lives in Eugene, Ore., where she works as a therapist.

In 2000, John and his wife, geneticist Christine Guthrie, American Cancer Society professor at the University of California, San Francisco and NAS member, created the Abelson Family Lecture at WSU in honor of his extended family. In the late 1990s, Abelson served WSU by helping the College of Sciences develop the reorganization plans that created the schools of Molecular Biosciences and Biological Sciences.