Dr. M. Daniel Lane, Hopkins biochemist

M. Daniel Lane

Dr. M. Daniel Lane, a retired Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researcher, biochemist and esteemed teacher who studied the body's chemical processes that affect hunger, died of myeloma April 10 at the Charlestown Retirement Community. The former Mount Washington resident was 83.

Colleagues said he typically arrived at his classroom at 6 a.m. and filled numerous sliding blackboards with notes for the day's material. These became known as the "Lane Lectures."


Dr. Paul Rothman, chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine and dean of the medical faculty, called Dr. Lane "a premier scientist and one of our most cherished colleagues."

He said that Dr. Lane made contributions within biochemistry and helped researchers understand the work of enzymes, which are the proteins that facilitate nearly all of the body's biochemical processes.


Dr. Lane also made discoveries related to how the body makes and uses fats, how different types of fat cells come about, and which chemical signals determine when we feel hungry and full, said a Hopkins statement.

"His formal teaching skills were unmatched," said Dr. Rothman. "Every physician who trained at Johns Hopkins from 1970 until 2006, when he formally stopped teaching, remembers the 'Lane Lectures' in metabolism."

Dr. Thomas August, a retired Hopkins scientist and colleague, said in an email, "He made numerous seminal contributions to our understanding of enzymology. ... His work had a profound influence on the current problem of the obesity epidemic and the enzymatic mechanisms governing the interactions of carbohydrates (sugars) and lipids (fat)."

Born in Chicago, Dr. Lane was the son of Malcolm Daniel Lane, an accountant for the Chicago Tribune, whose family arrived in Anne Arundel County in the 1650s, and Helga Nielsen Lane, a homemaker and YMCA worker.

He earned undergraduate and master's degrees at Iowa State University and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While at Iowa State, he met his future wife, Patricia Sonquist, at a mixer. The couple later worked closely at Hopkins and she introduced new students to Baltimore.

"My parents worked together. They were a real team," said his daughter, Claudia Lane of Baltimore.

After graduation, Dr. Lane joined the faculty of Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Va., and later served in the biochemistry department at New York University. He also studied at the Max-Planck Institute in Munich, Germany.

In 1969, he joined the Hopkins faculty in what was known as the Department of Physiological Chemistry. He became department head in 1978 and changed its name to the Department of Biological Chemistry.

"He truly mastered the art of recognizing talent with long-lasting potential and helping to nurture it to full maturity," said Pierre A. Coulombe, a Hopkins colleague.

"He ran a great department and he was a much beloved director," said Dr. Daniel M. Raben, professor of biological chemistry. "Dan was fair and nurturing to younger scientists and graduate students. He was also not afraid to draw a sword to defend somebody."

Hopkins colleagues said Dr. Lane mentored Dr. Peter Agre, the winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of aquaporins.

"Dan was very generous to fledgling young scientists," said Dr. Agre, a Towson resident, who is the Johns Hopkins director of the Malaria Research Institute. "Dan's support and guidance were pivotal, landing me the 2003 Nobel Prize in chemistry."


After stepping down as department director in 1997, Dr. Lane still taught and conducted research. He published more than 320 articles in scientific journals.

In 2001, he was named a university distinguished service professor, the school's highest academic title. He was named an emeritus professor in 2008. He then closed his laboratory.

He held numerous memberships in scientific organizations.

In 2012, at the age of 81, he skippered his boat on a 450-mile sea voyage from the Chesapeake Bay to Martha's Vineyard to go fishing.

"He looked for challenges," said his daughter. "He put all his energy into whatever he did."

Services are private.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son, M. Daniel Lane Jr. of London; a sister, Alice Lane White of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife of 59 years, an environmental activist, died in 2010.

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