Erin Colleen Moore

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Erin Colleen Moore, oldest child of Mozelle Jones and John Moore, was born November 16, 1924. She never married, and in 2011 lived in assisted living in Austin.

Note: Story from 1996 Arthur Jones Family Scrapbook.

Colleen grew up on the Moore ranch in Jeff Davis County, Texas. Her first 12 years were spent in the house built by her grandfather, Cook Moore, in the 1880s. She was educated at home for all but one year of grade school, and attended 5th grade and high school in the tiny town of Valentine. During these years she developed her love for reading (there wasn’t much else to do for recreation). She attended Sul Ross College in Alpine for one year, then moved with her mother and sisters to Austin. There she earned B.A. (1945) and M.S. (1950) degrees (chemistry and biochemistry) from the University of Texas. Between degrees she worked five years at the Bureau of Industrial Chemistry at U.T. Meanwhile she learned square dancing and folk dancing. She also enlisted in the Navy Waves at the end of 1944 and spent two weeks in training in New York City, but the Navy decided she was not temperamentally suitable.

After the M.S. degree, she spent 18 months at the Cold Spring Harbor research complex on Long Island, N.Y., working as a laboratory assitant, and became acquainted with three future Nobel Prize winners. Two and a half years in the Chicago area in an industrial chemist’s job convinced her that she preferred the academic atmosphere. She attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison from 1955 to 1958, working with G.A. LePage at the McArdle Cancer Research Laboratories for a Ph.D. in Oncology (a fancy word for cancer science). The research was concerned with the biochemical activity of certain then-new cancer chemotherapy drugs. None of them turned out to be very useful, but they were scientifically interesting.

After receiving her Ph.D. in 1958, she went to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she remained until she retired in 1987 (except for 18 months leave for a fellowship in Sweden, 1961-63). She ended her career with the rank of Biochemist and Professor of Biochemistry. Her research was concerned mainly with the biosynthesis of the sub-units of DNA, the deoxyribonucleotides. She was the first to discover the mammalian enzyme system which makes these compounds (a slightly different one had been found in bacteria), and made some other contributions to understanding the system. Other research concerned several more potential chemotherapy agents. She was author or coauthor of over 50 papers in scientific journals, and 7 chapters in books, as well as over 30 talks at meetings.

In Houston, Colleen was active in a folk dance club. For a time she was executive secretary of an organization which held Thanksgiving weekend folk dance camps. She also took up canoeing and camping with the Sierra Club, and was a charter member and early board member of the Lone Star Chapter of the club. She enjoyed a lot of travel, alone or with her mother and nieces and nephews or with the Sierra Club or other organizations.

Trips to scientific meetings often included vacation travel as well. Many photographs were taken on these trips.

She officially retired in 1985, but worked part time for two more years. In 1987 she moved to Austin and left science for volunteer work for the Sierra Club, League of Women Voters, Habitat for Humanity, and El Buen Samaritano (Episcopal) prenatal clinic. She enjoyed family, reading, “aquafitness,” and travel.

Colleen died May 25, 2011, in Austin, Texas, after a series of illnesses, including Alzhiemers.

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