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John Forte 1934-2012

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It is with regret that we announce the death of Professor John Forte. He died peacefully at home surrounded by family following a prolonged illness with leukemia.

John ForteJohn Gaetano Forte, PhD
Dec 23, 1934 - Nov 19, 2012

John Forte is survived by his wife of 51 years, Trudy; daughters, Michele Ramos (Marcelio), Susan McElhany (Clay); son John (Nicole), and grandchildren, Marcel, Gaetano, Giovanna, Fiona, Peter, Rafael and Stuart.

John was born and spent his childhood in Philadelphia, PA.  He attended Valley Forge Military Academy for high school and completed the A.B degree from Johns Hopkins University.  He was an outstanding athlete, playing football and serving as captain of the fencing team at Hopkins, where he earned NCAA honors while fencing saber.  

John earned the PhD degree in 1961 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he began his studies of the parietal (acid-secreting) cell of the stomach.  He also met Trudy, the love of his life, there.  In 1965, John and Trudy and the children moved to Berkeley, where he joined the faculty in the Department of Physiology and Anatomy.  He moved up the ranks and attained full Professor in 1974.  Professor Forte served as Chairman of the Department of Physiology and Anatomy (1972-78) and on many University and department committees.

Professor Forte had wide-ranging impacts in both his research and teaching.  He identified a unique potassium-activated ATPase in the membranes of parietal cells of the stomach and showed that this pump was responsible for generating the stomach's highly acidic secretions.  This research helped point the direction towards pharmacological treatments for ulcers.  Professor Forte also defined the molecular operations of this ATPase and described how it worked in concert with other ion channels and pumps to secrete hydrochloric acid into the stomach.  Professor Forte and his collaborators (often with his wife, Trudy) also determined that this acid pump was activated (e.g., during a meal) and inactivated (following a meal) through fusion and fission and recycling of small membrane-bound, ATPase-containing vesicles inside the parietal cells.  Similar membrane recycling is now known to occur in other epithelia like the kidneys and intestines, but John's research on the parietal cell provided the first description of this important process.  Recent work has been aimed towards understanding how the membrane recycling is controlled by the cytoskeleton, small protein fibers inside the cells. 

In recognition of his pioneering work, Professor Forte received many major awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and prizes from the British Society of Gastroenterology, the American Gastroenterology Association, and the American Physiological Society.  Professor Forte also received a National Merit Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Sheikh Hamdan Award for Excellence in Medical Sciences.  Professor Forte's research was funded by the NIH for 45 years.  Professor Forte served as editor and/or on the editorial board for many books and journals.  He also served on study sections and in review capacities for the NIH.

Professor Forte was also a dedicated teacher.  He generated innovative and effective syllabi, slides and videos to accompany his lectures in both Introductory and Advanced Human Physiology.  In his later years he was a popular lecturer in the 600-student Biology 1A course.  Professor Forte received numerous awards from the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology for his teaching and mentoring. 

John was also a kind and generous man who had many friends and a wonderful family. John was also a devoted and active member of the St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Berkeley.  A supporter of local performing arts, he enjoyed lending his baritone voice to the UCB Monks Faculty Choir and church choir.  He expressed creative talents through carvings and furniture woodworking.

Memorial mass at St. Mary Magdalen Church, Berkeley.
Saturday, Dec 8, 10 am; reception in parish hall.
In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to:
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
221 Main St., San Francisco, CA 94105

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