In Memoriam of prof. Mirosław T. Leplawy

Mirosław T. Leplawy
Prof. Mirosław T. Leplawy
(1922 - 2007)

On May 30, 2007 Professor Mirosław T. Leplawy, one of the founders of polish peptide science, passed away. More importantly, he was a mentor, scientific father and friend to many of us.

Mirosław Tomasz Leplawy was born on September 22, 1922 in Kostrzyń Wielkopolski. He began his Chemical studies in 1943 at the State Technical College (Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Techniczna), founded during the German occupation at the Technical University of Warsaw. After the second war world he continued his studies at the Faculty of Chemistry, Technical University of Łódź, and graduated in 1949 with M.Sc. and engineer in chemistry. Throughout his scientific career he has been connected with Technical University of Łódź. He received his Ph.D. in 1957 under the supervision of Professor Osman Achmatowicz, both an outstanding chemist and an educator of many polish organic chemists.

In 1957-1959 Professor Leplawy was awarded a British Council scholarship and joined Prof. G.W. Kenner’s group at the University of Liverpool (UK). In 1964 he defended his D. Sc. thesis (habilitation). He was awarded the title of full professor in 1977. For many years (1960-1998) he delivered lectures on the chemistry and technology of drugs.

He organized and educated a scientific team, secured high-quality equipment, and created the conditions under which fruitful scientific activity could flourish.

He visited many of the major chemistry departments in the world and during the process - made lifelong friendships with many notable chemists. He initiated scientific exchanges between his group and many other peptide laboratories, including the Department of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology Washington University, St.Louis; the Department of Organic Chemistry, University of Padowa; the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical College of Ohio; and the Department of Food Sciences, Justus Liebig University of Gissen.

He supervised 11 Ph.D. candidates in chemistry, and further inspired four scientists to successfully complete the procedures associated with obtaining a D.Sc. degree (two of them are now professors).

Professor Leplawy's scientific interests were focused on the chemistry and biology of peptides containing unusual amino acids. He was a pioneer on this subject in Poland. His paper pusblished in Tetrahedron 1960, 11 39-51 (Leplawy, M.T., Jones, D.S., Kenner, G.W., Sheppard, R.C. "Peptides. XI. Synthesis of peptides derived from α-methylalanine") initiated a world-wide interest in α,α-disubstituted amino acids. The peptide research group led by Professor Leplawy has pioneered the chemistry of sterically hindered, α-hydroxymethyl-α-alkyl amino acids and α-hydroxymethylated peptide analogues. A significant number of published papers on this subject have originated from his group. The scientific record of Prof. Leplawy includes 110 papers, 140 conference communications, 20 patents and many unpublished studies for the pharmaceutical industry.

While Head of the Institute of Organic Chemistry at Technical University of Łódź for a twenty year period (1972-1982) he demonstrated all the qualities that a successful administrator at a major university requires. He served as Vice Dean for 4 terms of office (1967-1976). As a good citizen of the chemical community professor Leplawy also served as chairman of Scientific Boards for the Institute of Technology and Drug Chemistry at Medical University of Łódź, and twice as a chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Polish Peptide Symposium in Łódź (1979 and 1985).

Professor Leplawy was fortunate to live a very happy private life. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He loved life, enjoyed tourism and was an active participant in several sporting activities (skiing, tennis).

Professor Leplawy was both a truly inspiring scientist and human being. He will be warmly remembered by all who were privileged to have known him.

Contributed by Aleksandra Olma