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Biographical Memoirs, Volume 85
ELVIN A. KABAT
September 1, 1914–June 16, 2000
BY ROSE G. MAGE AND TEN FEIZI
ELVIN A. KABAT, WHO died on June 16, 2000, was a founding father of modern quantitative immunochemistry together with Michael Heidelberger, his doctoral mentor. During his long career the structural and genetic basis for specificity of antibodies was elucidated. It was he who first demonstrated that antibodies are gamma globulins. Although his name is most associated with characterizations of the size and heterogeneity of antibody-combining sites, his contributions to modern biomedicine go well beyond this subject. His work advanced our understanding of fundaments of developmental biology, inflammation, autoimmunity, and blood transfusion medicine. Elucidation of structures of the major blood group antigens, embryonic-stage-specific carbohydrate antigens, and functional carbohydrate markers of leukocyte subsets were either achieved by him and his associates, or made possible through meticulously characterized, invaluable compounds he generously made available to other investigators.
His more than 470 publications span a period of 65 years. Over several decades he was a leading figure in several parallel fields of investigation as is evidenced by the books he authored: Blood Group Substances—Their Chem-