Educator Wes Bonds Dies

Wes Bonds, Ph.D., a recently retired biotechnology instructor at Western Carolina University who gained nationwide accolades as a creative developer of instructional lessons in genomics, proteomics, DNA sequencing and genetic analysis, died Monday of an apparent heart attack.

Bonds, a long-time supporter of, and participant in, North Carolina Biotechnology Center educational programming, co-led one of the Biotech Center's teacher workshops earlier this summer on the campus of Alamance Community College.

The workshop introduced 19 otherwise experienced science teachers from across the state to one of the most powerful tools in today's biotech toolbox--DNA microarrays, sometimes called "gene chips," used in research to efficiently identify the activity, or "expression," of many genes at once.

Early arrays were far too expensive to use in secondary schools or even in undergraduate education. But Bonds helped spur technological advances that cut these costs dramatically, allowing students to visualize expression of dozens of genes in one brief experiment.

After completing undergraduate work in chemistry at Tulane University, Bonds

  • Earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1970
  • Completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Michigan State University
  • Spent nearly 12 years as a central research project leader, from 1976 to 1987, with Dow Chemical Co
  • Become a research fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Lineberger Cancer Center from 1988 to 1990, analyzing DNA-protein interactions
  • Went to the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., from 1990 to 2001, to become more immersed in genome work and oversee day-to-day management of a laboratory engaged in human gene discovery and genetic disease analysis

While at Yale he also spent four years involved in transcriptional analysis in the Fragile X region of human Chromosome X, searching for clues to its relationship to mental disabilities

Bonds is survived by two sons--one in Michigan and one in Atlanta--and several
grandchildren. A memorial service was held in the Natural Science Auditorium on the WCU campus in Cullowhee.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Wesley Bonds Jr. Scholarship Fund in care of the WCU Foundation, 201 HFR, Cullowhee, N.C., 28779.



Tue, 09/15/2009 - 04:00