Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

Christopher Mathews Papers, 1962-2010

Biographical Note

Dr. Christopher K. Mathews is internationally recognized as a major contributor to the field of biochemistry with an emphasis on enzymology, virology, and genetics. Mathews has received significant attention for his work with nucleotide and coenzyme metabolism, DNA synthesis and replication, and nucleic acid enzymology.

Mathews began his academic career in the Pacific Northwest. Following his graduation from an Olympia, Washington high school, he attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, graduating with a degree in chemistry. From there he earned his doctorate in biochemistry at the University of Washington and then took a postdoctoral fellowship at the U.S. Public Health Service where, with the help of his mentor Seymour S. Cohen, he established himself as an independent researcher. In 1963 Mathews accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Biology at Yale University. In 1967 he moved to the University of Arizona where he attained a full professorship in the Biochemistry Department of the College of Medicine.

In 1978 Mathews returned to the northwest as professor and chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Oregon State University. There, he facilitated the growth of the department, continued his own research into enzymatic reactions, published several books on biochemistry (including a highly successful textbook), and participated in more than two dozen committees, all while continuing to teach regularly and provide direct mentorship for graduate and postdoctoral students. In 2002, after twenty-four years of service to OSU, Mathews retired from his position as Department Chairman and was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus, a change which allowed him to renew his efforts in the laboratory. Dr. Mathews continues to study nucleic acid enzymology today as Professor Emeritus of the OSU Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Timeline for Chris Mathews

1937 Christopher King Mathews is born on May 5 in New York City, NY.
1954 Mathews graduates from high school in Olympia, WA and enters the undergraduate chemistry program at Reed College in Portland, OR.
1958 Mathews graduates from Reed College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry.
The University of Washington in Seattle accepts Mathews into its Ph.D. in Biochemistry program. There, he is introduced to Frank M. Huennekens, his major professor. He is awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship.
1960 On June 19, Chris Mathews and Catherine Anne Zitcer are married.
Mathews publishes his first research article with the aid of F.M. Huennekens. The article, "Enzymatic Preparation of the l,L-Diastereoisomer of Tetrahydrofolic Acid," receives a positive response from the biochemistry community.
1961 Lawrence Mathews, Chris and Catherine's first child, is born on April 5.
Mathews receives the Eli Lilly Fellowship from the University of Washington Department of Biochemistry.
1962 Mathews graduates from the University of Washington with a Doctorate in Biochemistry. He then accepts a U.S. Public Health Service Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. There, Seymour S. Cohen serves as his research mentor.
1963 Chris and Catherine's second child, Anne, is born February 27.
Mathews accepts a position as Assistant Professor of Biology at Yale University.
1967 The University of Arizona offers Mathews a position as Associate Professor of Biochemistry, which he accepts.
1969 Robert E. Murray becomes the first doctoral candidate whose thesis is supervised by Mathews. Over the course of his career, Mathews will supervise 35 Ph.D. candidates.
1971 Mathews publishes his first book, Bacteriophage Biochemistry.
1973 Mathews receives a promotion to full Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Arizona.
That same year, Mathews takes a sabbatical leave at the Department of Biology at the University of California in San Diego, where he works with Gordon Sato and David Epel.
An American Cancer Society Scholar Grant is awarded to Mathews.
1978 Mathews accepts the position of Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Oregon State University.
1984 Mathews takes a sabbatical leave at the Medical Nobel Institute at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden where he works with Peter Reichard.
That same year Mathews receives both an American Cancer Society's Eleanor Roosevelt International Cancer Fellowship and the Sigma Xi Research Award from the Oregon State University chapter.
1986 Mathews accepts a one-year appointment as Director of the Center for Gene Research and Biotechnology at Oregon State University.
Mathews also receives the Discovery Award from the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon.
1988 Mathews is honored with the OSU Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award.
1989 Mathews receives the F.A. Gilfillan Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Science from the Oregon State University College of Science.
1990 Kensal E. van Holde and Mathews co-author the first edition of Biochemistry, a successful biochemistry textbook.
1991 Mathews is named Oregon State University Distinguished Professor.
1993 The Tage Erlander Guest Professorship from the Swedish Natural Science Research Council is awarded to Mathews.
1994 Mathews takes sabbatical leave at the Department of Molecular Biology in Stockholm University, Sweden where he works with Britt-Marie Sjöberg.
2002 Mathews retires from Oregon State University, though he continues an active research program under the title Professor Emeritus.
2005 Mathews is named the IUBMB Jubilee Lecturer by the South African Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.
2010 Mathews is named Outstanding Editorial Board Member by the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Return to Christopher Mathews Papers Home