记良师益友顾孝诚先生两三事

2012年11 月3日11时,我校生命科学学院教授、原生物系主任、蛋白质工程及植物基因工程国家重点实验室(现改为蛋白质与植物基因研究国家重点实验室)第一任主任顾孝诚教授,因患癌症医治无效,在北京逝世,享年83岁。

顾老师1952年毕业于我校植物学系,留校后历任助教、讲师、副教授、教授,1985年至1992年担任生物学系主任,1987年至1994年任蛋白质工程及植物基因工程国家重点实验室主任。1995年退休以后,她仍坚持为我校生物信息学科出谋划策,贡献了自己的全部余热。可以说,她把她的一生献给了北京大学,也用她的一生见证了我校生命科学和国家重点实验室的发展壮大。

顾老师一生为人刚正不阿,严于律己,宽于待人,她乐于奉献,乐于助人,永远是我辈后人学习的榜样和典范。这里记述部分我跟她交往20多年的点滴小事,以表深切的怀念之情。

1989年12月,我在美国康奈尔大学获得博士学位后去圣路易斯的华盛顿大学生物系做博士后。受美国总统老布什在“六四事件”后发布的行政命令保护,我们这些非移民倾向的学生毕业18个月后可以而且必须更换成可移民签证。我不想长期在美国生活,因此,必须尽快在国内找到合适的职位。记得当时陆续给包括北京大学在内的五所我认为我国最好的大学(不包括清华大学,因为那时他们还没有生物系)发出了求职函,得到的回答一般是欢迎但是不能提供住房。顾老师却趁她参加863生物技术代表团访问华盛顿大学之机,专程见了我,并跟我详细谋划了回国之后的道路。由于当时北京大学也不能给我们提供像样的住房,而且夫人小孩户口进京的指标难度极大,顾老师极力劝说我先回国做一年博士后。她说,北大马上能为博士后提供两室一厅的住房,安排家属的工作。托李政道先生的福,那时由国家人事部负责解决博士后家属进京指标。我和夫人当时觉得这个系主任是个实诚人,值得信赖,说不定可以把下半辈子扔进去。于是,就决定来北大上班。那时,从三藩到北京,国航每周只有两个航班,我们预订了1991年6月4日回北京的机票。顾老师回信说,那天恐怕不是个好日子,“六四”,国内会很紧张。我们立马顺延了一个航班,乘6月7日的班机回到北京。顾老师虽然没能亲自去机场接我们,她请陈章良带了一拨学生在首都机场等我们。一出海关,见到了迎接我们的牌子和章良(他跟顾老师一起去美国访问时我们见过),一颗悬着的心终于放下了。

记得那天过了午夜12点才到中关园,顾老师已经让秘书从家里拿了她自己的被褥给我们铺在宿舍床铺上。次日一早,顾老师就来看我们了。她一个劲地道歉,说北大给博士后建的两室一厅的房子还没弄好,暂时只能在中关园一室一厅凑合住一段事时间,有两房时马上搬。那几年,为了房子的事 ,我们没少麻烦她老人家。直到1993年,费尽周折,我们才入住学校正式分配的燕东园7甲号楼,两间房带一个很小的饭厅。这期间,要是没有顾老师的赤诚和真心相待,我和夫人可能早就离开北大,重回美国了。

刚从美国回来,觉得国内的物价真低,什么都便宜,买。但是,不到两个星期,我们夫妻二人的工资(加起来还不到3、4百元钱)就花完了,后半个月就得换美元生存,严重的入不敷出,心里憋屈得慌。一对工资条,发现财务居然没给我们发自行车津贴和独生子女费。尽管一共没几元钱,但得跟他们要。几经周折,这个钱总算加到工资条上了,但没补发前几个月漏发的钱,又生气去找顾老师。没几天,她让秘书给我一个信封,说是学校欠发的那几十元钱。一场风波由此平息。后来,秘书告诉我,那是顾老师拿自己的钱了事,弄得我非常不好意思。

大约在1996年前后,由当时的陈章良副校长推荐,我被任命为北京大学自然科学处(现为学校科研部)副处长,主管与国际合作有关科研事宜。由于总想着自己的科研,我对日常行政管理那套并不怎么上心,大部分时间仍然在实验室。顾老师找我说,你得想好啰,究竟愿意干什么,脚踩两条船可能不是长久之计。她的话使我最终下决心迅速而彻底的离开了学校的管理岗位。

今年暑假前夕,有一次我在生科院大厅碰上顾老师,她说:“朱博士,我想请你一起吃个饭,祝贺你当院士。”我口头上忙不迭地答应,心里却直嘀咕,虽然刚来那会儿,一家三口确实曾去她家蹭过饭,这么多年,我们只在入住燕东园时请顾老师吃过一顿饭,以后就忙得顾不上了,惭愧。那天下午,等我回头想安排时间请顾老师吃饭,办公室告诉我,她老人家已在中关园的和园餐厅订了饭。第二天中午,我和夫人如约去和园吃饭,顾老师和她的先生蔡大夫已经等在那儿了。四个人在和园大厅的一个角落吃了一顿饭。期间,她平静地告诉我,癌细胞扩散,半年内已经做两次手术了。我当时的直觉,顾老师请我吃的第一顿比较正式的饭很可能是我跟她吃的最后一顿饭。快吃完时,我怀着复杂的心情悄悄去前台付了帐(记得好像200来块钱)。顾老师知道后只是简单地说了句,那不是我敲你竹杠了吗?四人边说边离开了和园。

暑假之后,我去美国参加世界棉花基因组会议,回国后又忙于上课,竟没找出时间再去看看她。想不到,和园的那顿饭真的成了我跟她的永诀,人生难料啊!

相信顾老师永远活在我们心中,衷心祝愿顾老师一路走好!

朱玉贤
北京大学生命科学学院教授、中国科学院院士、蛋白质与植物基因研究国家重点实验室主任

Message from Professor Sir Tom Blundell

 

Prof. Tom Blundell and Prof. Gu Xiao Cheng

Dear Ying,

Andrej Sali has sent me the sad news that your mother, GU Xiao Cheng, has recently died. I was very sad to hear this.

Your mother was one of the most amazing people I have met. When I first went to China towards the end of the cultural revolution she looked after Professor Dorothy Hodgkin and myself. She interpreted the lectures I gave every day on protein crystallography, and she was very warm and supportive during our visit.  I think it is probably your mother in the picture attached! I have some other pictures of the visit if you are interested but I cannot find another with your mother in.

I met her from time to time afterwards and was always happy to meet her and hear the news.

She will be very much missed. A great lady!

My wife Lynn and I send you our condolences.

Kind regards,
Tom Blundell

Professor Sir Tom Blundell FRS, FMedSci
Department of Biochemistry , University of Cambridge

A letter from Keith and Anne Moffat

Dear Ying –

I don’t believe we’ve ever met; I contact you because my wife Anne and I interacted a great deal 20-30 years ago in China with your mother, Prof. Gu Xiao-cheng. We were very sad indeed to learn from Anne Karnovsky of Gu’s recent death (we always knew her as “Gu”).

Anne and I (with the Karnovskys) were the first set of interviewers for the China – United States Biochemistry Examination and Application Program (CUSBEA) when it began in December 1981. I returned to China as a CUSBEA interviewer in the fall of 1982 and with Anne, once again in 1985, each time under the guidance of Gu. By then the CUSBEA program was up and running well but the first seeds of doubt on the part of the Chinese Ministry of Education were beginning to appear. Chinese students were proving to be extremely successful in their Ph.D. studies in the USA – no surprise there. To the dismay of the Ministry, many of the students, perhaps most, wished to remain in the US to put their new-found skills to best use rather than returning promptly to China. In the late 1980s, the conditions for biomedical research and graduate training in China were not yet very favorable; but of course the situation is now completely transformed. Now, our graduating Chinese students often see even better career opportunities in China than in the west.

A couple of anecdotes about Gu from those visits. On our first visit in 1981, she took us as tourists to the platform above the great gate at the entrance to the Forbidden City, on the north side of Tianamen Square. We were standing there looking out over the view when Gu said with considerable emotion (well, as much as she would ever show): “I was here as a young girl on the day when the Chinese Communists finally took over the country.” I believe she said that she heard Mao speak as he addressed the crowds; truly a turning point in 20th century history. And again, Gu was very reticent about her personal background. I eventually discovered that her father – your grandfather – had graduated from Cornell University where at the time I was a professor (I’ve been at the University of Chicago since 1990.) I delved in the Cornell Alumni archives and found many memorabilia of your grandfather including his alumni records – he was a loyal graduate and regularly voted in alumni elections, and he informed Cornell officially of Gu’s birth – and the formal notice of his death. Most interestingly, his Cornell Yearbook included a photo of the Cornell Debate Team of 1916 – including your grandfather. Now, the secret of the origin of Gu’s impeccable English was revealed! It must have been truly remarkable in 1916 to have a non-native English speaker as a prominent member of an Ivy League debate team. I copied the entire file and photos and presented it to Gu when she visited my colleague Prof. Ray Wu (the leader of the CUSBEA Program) and us in Cornell in the mid-1980s. Perhaps the file is still in her papers.

Your mother was a truly remarkable woman whose life spanned the major events in modern Chinese history. She was also a “mother” to her Chinese students and to us. I never saw her flustered even in the face of these uncomprehending westerners – us – or her worried CUSBEA interviewees. There were plenty of them; they well realized that being accepted into a prominent graduate program in the US would be a life-altering event. As you would expect, many have gone on to distinguished scientific careers, in the US and in China. That will be an enduring aspect of Gu’s legacy.

Please accept our sympathy, and best wishes.

Keith and Anne Moffat

林建华老师来信

罗老师:

听闻顾老师辞世,十分难过。自从到学校担任领导职务,我一直把顾老师当作顾问和老师,特别是在学校的生命科学发展上,得到了她很多帮助和指教。顾老师不顾年事已高,为北大生命科学的发展呕心沥血,不辞辛苦,亲力亲为,四处奔波,令人感动。顾老师真是中国知识分子的一个典范,她举止儒雅,勤勉敬业,视野开阔,观点独到,语言犀利。几周前,到医院看望顾老师。尽管她知道已无力回天,但却非常坦然和幽默地谈论自己的病情,其境界真令人钦佩。

一旦定好悼念活动的日子,请尽快通知我,我希望能够参见,最后送她一程。

林建华

Gu Xiaocheng Memorial Fund

Dear Friends:

It is sad to all of us that our beloved Professor Gu Xiaocheng passed away on November 3, 2012. We are all grateful to the extraordinary contributions by Professor Gu Xiaocheng, which has a profound impact on all of us at the personal level as well as on the advancement of life sciences in China.

The Board of Directors of the Ray Wu Memorial Fund, Inc., has decided to establish a special fund, the Gu Xiaocheng Memorial Fund, in memory of Professor Gu Xiaocheng. The fund will be administered by and under the governance of the Ray Wu Memorial Fund, Inc, a nonprofit 501c(3) organization (tax ID number is 11-3840803).

This special fund will be used to support the Gu Xiaocheng Lectureship for designated speakers at the annual Ray Wu Symposium. Professor Gu Xiaocheng worked closely with Dr. Ray Wu in many aspects to promote scientific exchanges between China and the United States. Inviting overseas scientists to return to China had been Professor Gu’s long-time passion. We enthusiastically support the effort of setting up the Gu Xiaocheng Memorial Fund to commemorate the friendship between Dr. Ray Wu and Professor Gu Xiaocheng, and their shared legacy.
The interim committee managing the Gu Xiaocheng Memorial Fund includes:

Zengyi Chang (Chair), Ph.D., Professor and Vice Dean of School of Life Sciences, Peking University
Hong Wu, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, UCLA
Ming Luo, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Please make checks payable to RWMF and send donations to:
RWMF (Gu Fund)
c/o Ming Luo
PO BOX 550009
Birmingham, Al, 35255
USA

(For donations in Renmingbi, please contact Ming Luo at mingluo@uab.edu)

陈章良教授发来邮件悼念顾老师

惊闻顾老师去世的消息,悲痛之情,难于言表。

顾老师具有独特的人格和魅力,是一位令人爱戴的好老师。顾老师一生凭借着极大的工作热情,勤勤恳恳,为生命科学事业的发展做出了贡献:无论是课题的研究、人才的培养、人才的引进或是北大生命科学领域研究体系的建立。顾老师一生淡泊名利,不问收获,一心耕耘,虽已硕果累累、桃李满天下,却从不张扬,依然为生命科学领域的发展和人才培养默默前行。在工作和生活中,顾老师从不以专家自居,为人谦逊、和蔼,对年轻学者尽力提携,对学生也是关怀备至。当年对我从美国引回国,实验室的组建、生活上的关心以及工作上的帮助都事无巨细、无微不至,令我至今感怀备深。

斯人已逝,唯有我们热情认真地工作,谦虚诚实地做人,把自己的工作做出成绩,为祖国各领域的发展做出贡献,才是对顾老师精神的传承,才是对她最好的纪念。但愿顾老师在天堂能过得轻松点,安息。

陈章良
2012.11.15

 

精神与意气,在燕园永存 —为了永久的怀念

 

今天是2012年11月9日,这一天之所以重要,是因为顾孝诚老师。

 冠以“先生”之名,是顾孝诚老师为北大至诚奉献六十余年而享有。

 往年的这个时候,她早已穿上了那件灰白色的风衣,会笑吟吟地回答我们的问候:“你好啊!”亲切又慈祥。顾老师的头发很漂亮,银色的小卷往上梳着,虽已八十多岁,但依旧风华不减,十分精神。她的着装也很素雅,端庄的步伐经常让我忍不住要驻足观赏。所以,当今天看到她长眠在八宝山的菊厅时,我是无论如何也忍不住心中的泪水的。

 尤记得,2011年4月15日,她受邀来“展望事业,探讨人生”的讲座,开场白便是:“我做了一辈子老师,也做了一辈子学生,但主要还是一个学生”,真诚和谦逊让我感动。

 顾孝诚,人如其名,多么大气!北大有很多的名人,但顾老师是鲜有的治学、做人、做事都堪称表率的师长。从吴瑞先生的纪念会到北大-耶鲁杰出女性科学家的panel discussion,从香满燕园的春天到白雪皑皑的冬天,她的每一个小故事、每一个大成就都已深深地刻在了我的心里,内化成一种进取的力量鞭策着我在博士研究生的道路上无所畏惧、勇往直前!

 

上海交大由德林老师(2001-2003年北大生科院博士后)发来邮件悼念顾老师

惊闻顾老师不幸去世,深感震惊和悲痛。顾老师音容笑貌马上浮现脑海,她那慈祥目光和对待年轻人谆谆教诲,以及对国家生命科学发展付出的努力和期盼,永远值得我们回忆!
向顾老师的家人转达深切的哀悼!
 
 
上海交通大学
由德林
2012-11-9

顾老师在ICGEB担任学术顾问委员会主任时结识的老朋友,现任ICGEB所长的 Baralle 教授对顾老师的去世表示沉痛的哀悼!

I am extremely sad by this news, Prof Gu was a dear friend and colleague and we all in ICGEB are in great debt to her. She was the chairperson of our Council of Scientific Advisors for 9 years, a task that she carried with great competence and wisdom. Her deep scientific knowledge was uniquely blended with human warmth and extraordinary strength and enthusiasm. We all shall sorely miss her and are very close to her family.

Prof. F.E. Baralle M.D., Ph.D.
Director-General
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology