Schmid continues active role at Hormel Institute

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 14, 2001

To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of Dr.

Thursday, June 14, 2001

To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of Dr. Harold H.O. Schmid’s decreasing role at Hormel Institute are greatly exaggerated.

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True, Dr. Zigang Dong has been promoted to professor and executive director of Hormel Institute.

Also true, Schmid remains a professor and section leader at the Austin-based research facility.

He has relinquished some of his responsibilities in order to return to the laboratory to do more research.

Schmid’s name is indelible in the minds of many, when the Hormel Institute is discussed.

He came to the institute in 1962 as a post-doctorate fellow. His distinguished work in the area of physiological chemistry and the emphasis on the biochemistry, biophysics and nutrition of lipids earned both Schmid and the institute the scientific community’s attention and respect and with it, grants to do more research work. Sixteen years ago, he was promoted to the institute’s executive director post.

Schmid actually recruited his successor, Dong, and as the institute’s executive director, he visioned the evolution from the traditional lipid research to molecular and cell biology of cell signaling systems.

Schmid promoted the evolution of research at the institute, which will focus on the biological processes of carcinogenesis, while continuing to support the traditional lipid research work.

But today, the institute’s cancer research work is pushing it to new levels of attention and respect in the scientific community.

The National Cancer Institute, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, American Institute for Cancer Research and National Institutes of Health are supporting the important research with grants, the life-blood of the research efforts.

"I’m 65 years old and happy to be a part of this important transition at the institute," Schmid said. "Dr. Dong is a very, very good scientist. As the executive director, he will have the opportunity to both continue his important work here and to seek grants to help the institute’s work to continue to grow."

Having a high-profile scientist heading up the institute’s ranks of talented researchers is expected to help attract more research dollars.

Dong has agreed to remain at the Institute for a five-year period. He is the cellular and molecular biology section leader at the institute.

The main focus of his section’s research is the study of the molecular mechanisms of cancer development and the action of chemopreventive agents in cancer prevention.

Drs. Evgueni V. Berdyshev and Ann M. Bode, Nan-Yue Chen and Wei-Ya Ma, all in Dong’s section, were promoted to research associates.

"They’re all doing interesting research and publishing papers," Schmid said. "That’s how it works in the scientific community. You have to do something interesting and something new to be able to go after the grant money."

"All of these fine people are molecular biologists and that’s where the emphasis of the institute’s research is today," he said.

Dong already has been successful in raising grant monies for his section’s research and now he is expected to raise more grants for the other important research work going on at the institute.

"The future of the institute is clearly tied to what has happened here over the last five years," Schmid said. "And within that, the modern science of molecular biology and specifically any cancer research is where we are headed. To find what we can do and what will do the most good in this area is our goal."

The continued support of the Hormel Foundation and the University of Minnesota is essential to the institute’s growth. "We need their support to make Hormel Institute into what it should be for the future," Schmid said. "Money will help us do that. Any research with a direct application to cancer will attract grant monies to do more and when we get that grant money there will be more money to do the other important investigations being done at the Institute. One will help the other."

"Dr. Dong can use his growing influence in the scientific community and his willingness to take risks to help us move forward," Schmid said.

Under Schmid’s executive director leadership, the institute made great strides in bolstering its infrastructure and building its technical base with the acquisition of much-needed equipment.

"Other sections can only benefit, when one section receives great attention," he said. "The key is never to lose any quality in any of the many areas of research. Cancer research has grown at Hormel Institute, but we are a team and strong because of everyone’s efforts here."

"I feel good here and happy to be a part of these changes," Schmid said. "I want Hormel Institute to succeed and Dr. Dong does, too."

"He has made a five-year commitment to the institute and if he continues to be as successful a scientist as he is, he will help the institute become more successful, too," Schmid said.

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-2232 or e-mail him at