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H. Edward "Ed" Conrad

January 21, 1929 ~ May 20, 2023 (age 94) 94 Years Old


H. Edward (Ed) Conrad, 94, of Urbana passed away Saturday, May 20, 2023. He was born on January 21, 1929 in Washington DC, son of Carl and Margaret (Shepherd) Conrad. He married Carolyn Cutshall on July 5, 1952 in West Lafayette, Indiana. 

Survivors include his wife of nearly 71 years, Carolyn, whom he met on the Purdue campus. Also surviving are their children, Jean Conrad Land, Urbana, and John Conrad (Nichole Neugebauer), Chicago.  In addition, he is survived by his grandchildren, Meghan Verkler, Urbana, and Kristin Kowalczuk (Nickolas), Elmwood Park, IL, his brother, Carl W. Conrad (Velma) of Burnsville, NC, and a niece and several nephews. He was preceded in death by his sister, Lillian Shepard.

He graduated from Fortier High School in New Orleans in 1945 and received his B.S. from Louisiana State University in 1949, where he was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. He earned his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1954.  His first position was at Mead Johnson & Company (now Bristol-Meyers Squibb) in Evansville, IN, followed by two years in the US Army at the Medical Nutrition Laboratory at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, Denver, CO.  Ed moved to Urbana in 1958, where he began as a Post Doc at the University of Illinois in the biochemistry lab of I.C. Gunsalus. He was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry in 1962, and became an Associate Professor in 1968, followed by Professor in 1972. In 1989, he was named one of the inaugural Jubilee Professors in the College of Liberal Art & Sciences for his contributions to teaching, research, and academic citizenship. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1989.

Ed built his career around the biochemical studies of heparin, other polysaccharides, and carbohydrates in general. While many scientists focused on the study of proteins, Ed’s work on carbohydrates was decades ahead of its time - the complexity of carbohydrates, and their role in virtually every field of medicine and disease, have become clear. Based on the emerging recognition of this importance, in 1989 he was recruited as the Director of Biochemistry by Glycomed Pharmaceuticals, Alameda, CA. After four years at Glycomed, he returned to Urbana-Champaign. He spent the next 3 years writing a book, “Heparin-Binding Proteins”, which together with his many research publications, are still cited today, including during development of the vaccine for Covid-19. In 1994, he was honored by students and colleagues with a symposium as a tribute to his many scientific achievements and to his career of mentoring students and scientists. In 2019, his former students established a scholarship fund in his honor at the University of Illinois Foundation.

Ed loved spending time with his family, growing beautiful flowers in the garden and obtaining the newest gadgets technology had to offer. He also liked to share his knowledge of lyrics from songs of his youth. His children fondly remember all of the time he spent attending their swim meets and football games, coaching baseball and softball, and hosting backyard BBQs for his post-docs and graduate students from his lab at the U of I.

He was a life member of the Purdue Alumni Association and the John Purdue Club. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Urbana for more than 60 years, where he served as an elder and Clerk of the Session. Ed was co-leader of the church youth group and taught classes for prospective and new members on Presbyterian history.

In accordance with his wishes, a private family memorial service will be held. Memorial donations can be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Urbana https://firstpresurbana.org or the Dr. Edward Conrad Biochemistry Undergraduate Scholarship Fund at the University of Illinois Foundation. https://mcb.illinois.edu/departments/biochemistry/giving

Condolences can be offered at renner-wikoffchapel.com. 

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