MOUNT DESERT

Elizabeth Shull Russell, Senior Staff Scientist Emeritus at The Jackson Laboratory, died May 28, 2001, at her home on Echo Lake. She was born May 1, 1913, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the eldest child of A. Franklin Shull and Margaret Jeffrey Buckley. She attended Ann Arbor public schools and the University High School. In 1933, she received her BS from the University of Michigan, graduating first in her class. She received her Masters degree from Columbia in 1934, and took her PhD in genetics at the University of Chicago in 1937, where she was a student of Sewall Wright.

Dr. Russell married fellow University of Chicago doctoral student William L. Russell in 1937. The couple moved to Mount Desert Island that same year to work at The Jackson Laboratory. They had four children together before divorcing in 1947.

In a career spanning five decades, Dr. Russell published over 135 scientific papers on various aspects of genetics, including pioneering work on pigmentation, blood-forming cells, and germ cells. Dr. Russell repeatedly demonstrated the usefulness of mouse models for the study and development of therapies for heritable human diseases. The first model for muscular dystrophy was discovered in her mouse colony. Successful marrow transplantations she and her colleagues performed in the 1960ís preceded the development of similar treatment protocols for humans. The genetics of aging was fostered by her longevity studies in genetically different mice.

Following the destruction of The Jackson Laboratory in the fire of 1947, she led the effort to recover the Labís genetically purebred mouse strains from other institutions, worldwide, in order to rebuild the mouse stocks. In 1991, The Jackson Laboratory named its new foundation stock building the Russell-Dickie Building in honor of Dr. Russell and her colleague, Dr. Margaret Dickie.

Dr. Russell was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Genetics Society of America, Phi Beta Kappa, the Council of the National Institute on Aging, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Dr. Russell was also a Guggenheim Fellow. In 1976, she chaired a Genetics Society committee which drafted an influential position paper on heredity, race and IQ, and also served as president of the Society.

Dr. Russell was a Founding Trustee of the College of the Atlantic, and was made a Life Trustee in 1995. She was a Trustee of the University of Maine from 1975 to 1983, and the recipient of several honorary degrees, including from Colby and Bowdoin Colleges. She was inducted into the Maine Womenís Hall of Fame in 1991. As a member of the Bar Harbor Planning Board in the 1970ís, she was instrumental in protecting Northeast Creek and Fresh Meadow. Dr. Russell was a longtime member of AAUW, active at the state and local level. She served on the board of the Somes Meynell Wildlife Refuge for several years.

Dr. Russell also touched the lives of the many students, graduate and undergraduate, who worked with her at The Jackson Laboratory. She taught on three different occasions at COA. After retiring from the Lab, she traveled twice to Liberia, West Africa, where she taught embryology and genetics at Cuttington College. She was a communicant of St. Andrew and St. John Episcopal Church in Southwest Harbor.

Dr. Russell was predeceased by her oldest son, Richard L. Russell, in 1994, and by her brother, Franklin B. Shull, in 1996. She is survived by two sons, John Shull Russell of Howell, Michigan, and James J. Russell of Northeast Harbor; a daughter, Ellen M. Gilmore of Mount Desert, and five grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 2, 2001. A Requiem Mass will be celebrated at St. John Episcopal Church in Southwest Harbor at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, 2001.

Gifts in lieu of flowers may be made to The Jackson Laboratoryís Elizabeth S. Russell Scholarship Fund, St. Andrew and St. John Church, or the Mount Desert Nursing Association.