University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Remembering Francis Albin Jacobs

Francis Albin Jacobs of Grand Forks, professor emeritus of biochemistry, died June 12 at Valley Eldercare Center in Grand Forks of natural causes. He was 92.

Francis Jacobs was born Feb. 23, 1918, in Minneapolis, Minn., to Anthony and Agnes Ann (Stejskal) Jacobs. He grew up in Minneapolis until the family moved to Denver, Colo. in 1930. He attended Regis High School and graduated from Regis College in 1939. He did postgraduate studies at Denver University from 1939-41. During World War II, he was a graduate student/doctoral candidate at St. Louis University under Nobel Prize winner Edward A. Doisy. There, he conducted research on antibiotics for treatment of war casualties, for which he received a draft deferment and a citation from the U.S. Government Office of Scientific Research and Development. He earned a Ph.D. from St. Louis University in 1949 doing cancer research, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. from 1949-50. He was an instructor of Physiological Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine from 1951-52, and he was an assistant professor from 1952-54.

He married Dorothy Caldwell on June 5, 1953, in Pittsburgh, Pa. They moved to Grand Forks in 1954 when he became an assistant professor of biochemistry at the UND School of Medicine. In 1956 he advanced to associate professor and became a full professor in 1964, retiring in 1987 as professor emeritus. He served as research supervisor for the National Science Research Participation Program in Biochemistry from 1959-63. Throughout his career teaching biochemistry at UND, he secured grants to conduct internationally-recognized research on amino acid and trace element nutrition, alcohol studies, milk studies and intestinal absorption. He was a Fellow of the North Dakota Academy of Science (editor 1967-68) and a member of the American Society of Biological Chemists, the American Institute of Nutrition, the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, the American Chemical Society (chairman Red River Valley section, 1971), the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the AMA, Sigma Xi (chapter president 1965-66), Alpha Sigma Nu and Phi Lambda Upsilon. He contributed numerous articles to professional journals and some biochemistry textbooks. He also designed the medallion used for the Sigma Xi award.

Francis was a member of Holy Family Catholic Church in Grand Forks, where he was active in the Home and School Association, the Parish Council, the Diocese of Fargo Area II Council, the Bishop's Council, the Holy Name Society, and was a frequent lector and eucharistic minister.

He was dedicated to teaching his students and, as he put it, "to pushing back the frontier of science." He would devise ways to make the study of biochemistry more vivid for students through photography and audio-visual presentations. Francis was devoted to his family, enjoyed photography, and lived by the motto "Have faith in yourself and your creator; do what is right and seek what is true." He continued to live at his home of over 50 years until the month before his death.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, sons Christopher, of Grand Forks, Gregory (Margaret), of Oreland, Pa., John, of Wayzata, Minn., daughters Paula (Jeffrey) Helgerson, of Brooklyn Center, Minn., and Margaret (Mark) VanDrisse, of Maple Grove, Minn., seven grandchildren, a brother, Jerome (Vivian), of Denver, Colo., and two cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, Anthony and Agnes, and a brother, Anthony.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his name to Holy Family Catholic Church, the UND Medical School or the charity of your choice.

Mass of Christian Burial is 1 p.m. Friday, June 18, in Holy Family Catholic Church, Grand Forks. Visitation is 5 to 7 p.m., with a 7 p.m. vigil service in Norman Funeral Home, (2950 S. Washington St., Grand Forks). Visitation will continue for one hour prior to the liturgy in the church on Friday. Interment will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 19, in Calvary Cemetery, Grand Forks. The online memorial registry may be signed at

-- Courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald.

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