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The Simon Chan Endowment Drive

Simon Chan Memories

Simon grew up in Auckland, New Zealand. He did his PhD in Elizabeth Blackburn's lab at UCSF, on telomeres and telomerase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. His postdoctoral research was in Steve Jacobsen's lab at UCLA on mechanisms of gene silencing in Arabidopsis.

At UC Davis, Simon led his laboratory to the forefront of biological research internationally, with breakthrough discoveries in centromere function and inheritance, engineering of haploid plants, and clonal propagation through seeds. He was the recipient of several awards and honors, and was recently appointed to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Simon was also known by his friends and colleagues for his many other interests and activities- he loved music especially jazz, he played a mean saxophone and bass guitar, he was an avid bicyclist. His joy of life, his infectious enthusiasm for his research and his other interests, his generosity to friends and colleagues, inspired all who came in contact with him.

  • The loss of such a warm person and extraordinarily talented scientist is truly shocking. Simon has enriched all our lives. His company always brought instant delight- both by his cheerful nature and his engaging intellect.

    A light has gone out in the world.

    Bassem, UCSF.

  • This is really terrible news and I am very very sad to get it. What an enormous and irreparable loss for his family, for friends and colleagues at Davis and elsewhere, and for the international plant science community. Simon's generosity of spirit, passion for science, and his enthusiasm for everything he did were infectious and its very hard to accept that someone of his abilities and such a promising future has been lost in so untimely a manner. My deepest condolences to his family and to his friends and colleagues at the Department of Biology at Davis.

    Imran Siddiqi, CCMB, Hyderabad, India

  • This is a terrible loss, to Simon's family, friends and colleagues and to the entire Plant Science community. Simon had such a strong sense of fun, even in the context of serious science, that he made debate and discussion a real pleasure. He was inspirational, and his greatest legacy will be to continue to inspire those that knew him for years to come. My thoughts are with Simon's family and everyone at UCD.

    Cathie Martin, Editor in Chief,The Plant Cell

  • This is shocking news, and I am really sorry that such a talented thinker and experimentalist has passed away. I only had the privilege to meet and talk to Simon at PAG in 2011, and was incredibly impressed by his insightful understanding and thoughts. His contribution will live on through his brilliant centromere papers.

    I send sincere condolences to his family and colleagues.

    Pat Heslop-Harrison