In memory of George Robert “Bob” Pettit II (8 June 1929 – 21 September 2021)

I wanted to write a short note to commemorate my postdoc supervisor, Prof Bob Pettit, who passed away in September last year. He was a colossus of natural product chemistry and cancer research who made seminal discoveries such as the bryostatins, dolastatins, combretastatins, cephalostatins and spongistatins. I worked for nearly two years from 1993 at the Cancer Research Institute at Arizona State University. Phoenix was a great place to live, and I had a very enjoyable times working with many colleagues in the lab and exploring Phoenix, Arizona and beyond.

The last (and only) picture I have of Bob and I was taken on the New York Harbour cruise at the 43rd ASP Annual Meeting held from 27 –31 July 2002 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as well as a picture of him delivering his lecture at this conference.

Mark Butler and Bob Pettit, ASP Conference 2002

I had been in Singapore for a few by then and was starting to work on antibacterials. I asked him if he was interested in also looking at antibiotics. I still remember him saying to me, “Mark, I will look at antibiotics after I have solved cancer”. RIP.

Bob Pettit lecture in 2002 at the 43rd ASP Annual Meeting, New Jersey.

2 thoughts on “In memory of George Robert “Bob” Pettit II (8 June 1929 – 21 September 2021)

  1. Bob was a true gentleman. I was in awe of his knowledge and his energy levels. He was a modern day medicine man, achieving more with his Cancer Research Institute than should have been possible. He spoke to people around the world to give leads on the chemical toy box that has evolved in organisms. He stood up for his colleagues when the University was taken over by bureaucrats who failed to appreciate his genius. He gave me my first research papers, which I enjoyed writing with him, and he was always encouraging. He was delighted my eldest son studied chemistry at university too. Mark was a wonderful colleague who taught me so much about NMR. A lot of international scientists owe a lot to Bob. He offered advice on how to live well and his long life was a testament to his healthy lifestyle. Bob is undoubtedly the kindest and most caring person I have ever met. We must encourage the next generations in their scientific journeys as Bob would have wished. Bob Pettit RIP

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