Robert Kellogg Crane
(December 20, 1919 - October 31, 2010)
As a rock-ribbed, dyed in the wool biochemist I was surprised, pleased and felt greatly honored to be included in the Living History program together with such a distinguished group of physiologists.
It came about because:
(1) On April 1, 1966, I journeyed back to my homeland, New Jersey, to become the founding Chairman of the Department of Physiology (later. and Biophysics) at Rutgers University Medical School, now the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, a component of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. On assuming the post, I felt comfortable with my degree from Harvard since it was in Medical Science, not specifically in Biochemistry, the same as it would have been had my major been Physiology. Nonetheless, I quickly sought some more specific credentials and asked, first, for membership in The Society of General Physiologists and then in The American Physiological Society.
(2) On August 24, 1960 in a lecture presented at Prague during a Symposium on Membrane Transport and Metabolism I proposed for the first time anywhere that the fluxes of an ion and a substrate could be coupled by combining with the same reversible transport carrier in the cell membrane. In the intestinal epithelial cells that I was studying the ion was sodium and the substrate was glucose. Because of the coupling, glucose accumulation to high levels in the cells, i.e. active transport, was seen to be powered by the ATP-driven efflux of sodium ions elsewhere. Figure 1 below is a photocopy of what I drew for my notes on that day and displayed to the audience as I gave my talk. It was later redrawn more formally (Figure 2) and published in the proceedings of the symposium (Crane, R. K., Miller, D. and Bihler, I., in A .Kleinzeller and A. Kotyk, Eds., Membrane Transport and Metabolism, Academic Press, New York, 1961, pp. 439-449. In later publications I adopted the term cotransport as a descriptive name for the process.
(3) The Executive Director of the American Physiological Society, Martin Frank, took note of (1) and the later developments from (2) and invited me to join the program.