Sang-Dai Park: In Memoriam

It is with great sorrow that we report the passing of PSA’s Vice President, Prof. Dr. Sang-Dai Park, honorary professor at Seoul National University and an esteemed member of the Korean National Academy of Sciences, serving as its Vice President from 2018-2020.

Dr. Park was a leader in the fields of molecular biology and genetic engineering who also was committed to the greater participation and representation of female scientists in his country. Dr. Park passed on 20 April 2024 after a brief illness. He was 87 years old.

Dr. Park was a very strong supporter of the Pacific Science Association, and one of the kindest and thoughtful persons ever to have served on our Board. We will miss him greatly, and we honor his life and work and cherish our memory of working with him.

Please also see the following obituary published in The Korea Times on 23 April 2024.

Park Sang-dai, father of Korean life science research, dies at 88

By Baek Byung-yuel
The Korea Times, 23 April 2024

Park Sang-dai, an honorary professor at Seoul National University who pioneered molecular biology and genetic engineering in Korea by helping to nurture female scientists and hosting the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), passed away on April 20, according to the National Academy of Sciences, Sunday. He was 88.

He graduated from the College of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences at Seoul National University in 1960 and received his Ph.D. from St. John’s University of the United States in 1974.

He discovered the role of chromosomes in congenital metabolic disorders in the 1960s and was the first in Korea to utilize autoradiography for his research, which later paved the way for the development of targeted therapies.

The late professor continued his research on the replication and repair of DNA and educated master’s and doctoral students in life science in Korea by serving as a professor at Seoul National University from 1967 to 2002.

In 1984, Park opened a cooperative program in molecular biology at Seoul National University to train masters’ and doctoral students and in 1985, he established the Institute of Molecular Biology & Genetics at the school and became its inaugural director. At the institute, he isolated and characterized more than 20 genes related to DNA replication and repair.

Along with his outstanding research achievements, Park is also recognized for laying the foundation for the Korean biological community.

In 1989, he led the founding of the Korean Society for Molecular and Cellular Biology, which now has nearly 20,000 researchers as members. He founded and served as the first editor-in-chief of Molecules and Cells, the first Science Citation Index (SCI) listed journal in life sciences in Korea.

The late professor also played a leading role in establishing the IVI, the first international organization to be headquartered in Korea. For his contributions, he received the inaugural Korea Science Award’s Presidential Prize in Life Sciences in 1987. He also established Women in Life Sciences Award to recognize female scientists who have made outstanding achievements.

In 2021, he was inducted as a member of Persons of Distinguished Service to Science and Technology.

“The deceased was concerned about the country’s science and technology community until the end of his life. He was a pioneering scientist who made Korean life science what it is today,” the bereaved family said in a press release.