The RNA Society mourns the loss of friend and colleague, Dr. Sidney Altman
Posted on 

The RNA Society joins the scientific community in mourning the loss of Sidney Altman who passed away April 5th after a long illness. Dr. Altman was a leader in the field of RNA processing and throughout his career studied the tRNA processing endonuclease RNase P.

Dr. Altman first made the very surprising finding that RNase P contained both a protein and an RNA; the RNA was shown to be essential for enzymatic activity. Most remarkably, Dr. Altman and colleagues then demonstrated that the RNA moiety - in the total absence of protein - faithfully catalyzed pre-tRNA processing. This result together with the finding by Dr. Thomas Cech that group I intron splicing was autocatalytic set the stage for the now widely accepted RNA World hypothesis. Drs. Altman and Cech shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. 

The RNA journal will publish a special tribute to Dr. Altman which will contain personal remembrances by his mentees and friends as well as a review of our current understanding of RNAse P.