Information for Our Community

Whether you are part of our community or are interested in joining us, we welcome you to Washington University School of Medicine.


Visit the News Hub

Obituary: Luis Glaser, former head of biological chemistry department, 88

Scientist trained in laboratory of Nobel laureates Gerty and Carl Cori

January 19, 2021

Luis Glaser, PhD, a beloved mentor and former head of the then-Department of Biological Chemistry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, died Dec. 23, 2020, in Miami after a long illness. He was 88.

Also a director of the university’s Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences, Glaser spent the latter years of his career, from 1986 to 2005, as executive vice president and provost at the University of Miami.

At Washington University, where he earned his PhD in biochemistry, Glaser studied in the laboratory of Nobel laureates Carl and Gerty Cori. He joined the faculty as an instructor in 1956 and rose to head of the biological chemistry department, precursor to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics; he held that position from 1975 to 1986. He also became director of the Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences, in 1980. He retired from Washington University in 1986 but remained affiliated with the School of Medicine as an adjunct professor through 1989.

“I feel privileged to have known Luis over many years as he moved from graduate student to faculty member to department chair and to director of DBBS,” said Carl Frieden, PhD, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics. “His knowledge and understanding of science were remarkable. A speed reader, he was always available to discuss any problem with faculty or students as he wandered down the hall, coffee in hand. We frequently had lunch together, which not only revolved around science but also the Medical Science Training Program (MSTP), in which we were both involved in its early days and, indeed, about any topic of the day.”

Glaser was born in Vienna. According to an obituary published by the University of Miami, after Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1939, Glaser’s father, a physician, was told he could no longer practice medicine in the country. Glaser’s family then moved to Antwerp, Belgium, for a year, and then to Mexico City, where the future scientist grew up.

Glaser earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto before pursuing his doctorate and launching his career in St. Louis. He also met his wife, Ruth, at Washington University. They were married for 59 years.

He is survived by his wife; his daughters Miriam Lipsky and Nicole Glaser, and five granddaughters.

Private funeral services were held in December.

Memorial contributions may be made in Glaser’s memory to the charitable organization of one’s choice.