Vale George Ernest Rogers AO FAA 1927 – 2021

George Ernest Rogers AO FAA 1927–2021

The late Professor George Rogers AO FAA spent almost six decades at the University of Adelaide, pioneering the application of electron microscopy to advance our understanding of keratin, hair and wool. A beloved figure to generations of students and academics, George was still regularly to be found working at the lab bench at Adelaide Microscopy when one of the laboratories was renamed The George Rogers Laboratory in 2015. His legacy will continue at the University through the George Rogers Postgraduate Scholarship in Molecular Bioscience.

The following In Memoriam to the late Emeritus Professor George Rogers AO FAA was published in the April 2022 issue of Australian Biochemist, the magazine of the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology:

In 1951, after completing his MSc in Biochemistry at the University of Melbourne, George Rogers joined the then recently-established Biochemistry Unit of the CSIRO Wool Research Laboratories in Parkville. In 1954 he was awarded a CSIRO scholarship to undertake a PhD at Trinity College Cambridge on the structure and biochemistry of the wool follicle. On his return to Australia in 1957, George worked as a Senior Research Officer in CSIRO’s Division of Protein Chemistry. In 1963 he took up a Readership in Biochemistry at the University of Adelaide. He was appointed Professor from 1978–1992 and then Emeritus Professor. In 2005, George was also appointed a Professorial Fellow in the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Melbourne.

George was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 1977 for his work on the molecular structure of keratins and the biochemistry of keratinisation. George was a pioneer in the application of electron microscopy to hair and wool ultrastructure and to that of the hair follicle. His work includes the discovery of the existence of citrulline in keratin proteins. In recognition of his work, George was awarded a DSc from the University of Adelaide (1976), the Australian Biochemical Society (ABS) Lemberg Medal (1976) and was made an Officer in the Order of Australia (2013).

After serving as Head of the Biochemistry Department from 1988–1992, George transitioned to Emeritus Professor. In 1995, he became program manager for the Premium Quality Wool Commonwealth Research Centre, a major research program aiming to use molecular and biochemical approaches to improve wool quality. He held this position for five years, running a large research group that introduced state of the art molecular technologies to the field. George continued to work at the lab bench himself in an honorary capacity well into the new century, publishing research supported by successful grant applications in the area of hair follicle development.

George was the ABS State Representative for South Australia from 1965–1967, and was a frequent participant in many conferences held by ABS/ASBMB over the years.

George was an inspiration and role model to many and was renowned as being very humble. He was greatly admired by his former students, many of whom became brilliant scientists and close family friends. George’s end of year events were attended by many of his former students and colleagues (including those based interstate or overseas), with the last one held in November 2019.

George’s gentle demeanor, endless curiosity and humorous quips enhanced his great popularity with young academics and graduate students as he nudged into his nineties. The respect for his contributions was formally recognised by dedicating a laboratory at Adelaide Microscopy to his name, and in 2019, by an anonymous donor(s) orchestrating the perpetual Professor George Rogers postgraduate scholarship in the field of Molecular Bioscience. The grand gentleman of the bench will be painfully missed. Our deepest condolences go to George’s wife, Lynn, his daughters, Natasha and Nicole, their family, and George’s friends and colleagues.

Professor John Shine AC PressAA FAHMS(Hons) FRS
President, Australian Academy of Science

Professor Murray Whitelaw
Department of Molecular and Biomedical Science
University of Adelaide

Associate Professor Keith Shearwin
School of Biological Sciences
University of Adelaide

Tagged in biochemistry, electron microscopy