Annemarie Weber (1923–2012)

Annemarie Weber, MD, DM, and Biophysical Society member since 1985, died on July 5, 2012. She completed her postdoc at multiple universities, including University College of London, United Kingdom; University of Maryland; Harvard University (Rockefelller fellowship); and the University of Tubingen (with Hans H. Weber). During her career, she worked at Columbia, the NY MDA Institute, St. Louis University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Annemarie was elected to the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was a Biophysical Society Fellow.

In her research, Annemarie estblished the principles of Ca2+ action in the actication of muscle contraction, demonstrating that low concentrations of free Ca2+ are necessary and sufficient to activate contraction of muscle at physiological [MgATP] and that the relaxing effect of SR is due to the reduction of cytoplasmic [Ca2+] to very low levels. Her insights paved the way for the discovery by Ebashi of troponin C, and led to the general concept of Ca2+ as an intracellular messenger.

Annemarie added an additional graphic to the steric hindrance model (proposed by John C Haselgrove, Hugh E. Huxley, David A. D. Parry, and John M. Squire in 1972) by showing that at low [MgATP], the myosin crossbridges still attached to actin act as a ‘foot in the door,’ cooperatively activating seven actin monomers.

Later in her career, Annemarie focused on the formation and disassembly of actin filaments, defining the regulation of actin-subunit association and dissociation at the slow-growing (pointed) filament end and demonstrating, with Velia M. Fowler, that tropomodulin caps thin filament pointed ends in striated muscle.

Annemarie was a dedicated teacher who was totally dedicated and enjoyed challenging students. At Penn, she revised the medical biochemistry course with a novel approach, building student enthusiasm and receiving the Provost Award for Distinguished Teaching.

January 2013 Table of Contents