I have the honour to commemorate our highly estimated academician Alexander Rich. He died on 27 April 2015 at the age of 90 years. He grew up in the United States of America (USA), where he also obtained his basic scientific education. He started his scientific research under the mentorship of Linus Pauling, and in close contact with James Watson and Francis Crick in structural biology.

From 1958 he had a professorship in biophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and at the Harvard Medical School (HMS). Alexander Rich devoted his research mainly to the structural and functional analysis of nucleic acids, both DNA and RNA. These investigations revealed various alternative forms of these principally filamentous molecules, often in connection with interacting proteins. This allowed Rich to explore specific biological functions, for example of Z-DNA in its interaction with regulating proteins. 

The publication list of Alexander Rich contains a large number of highly valuable reports on research accomplished under his direction. On the basis of his scientific accomplishments, Alexander Rich became member of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences (PAS) in 1978. As Academician he made important scientific contributions both to our Plenary Sessions and to our topical workshops. The Academy also appreciates his fundamental help in the elaboration of conclusions and recommendations during our scientific meetings. The Pontifical Academies of Sciences (PAS) owes its sincere thanks to its defunct member.

Werner Arber