DR. LESTER I. BINDER
CHICAGO, formerly of CARO
Dr. Lester I. Binder, known to many as “Skip,” passed away on Friday, November 15, 2013 of a heart condition while hunting on his family’s farm in Caro. He was 63 years old. Skip was born December 19, 1949 in Caro, the son of Lester Henry and Vivian Maxine (Bennett) Binder. He graduated from Caro High School as the salutatorian of the class of 1968 and continued his studies at Oakland University where he graduated in 1972 with a degree in Biology. Skip received his Master of Philosophy and his PhD in Biology from Yale University in 1978 and then went on to the University of Virginia for his postdoctoral fellowship from 1978 to 1985.
In 1985, he took a faculty position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he became a tenured associate professor in 1990. From 1993 to 1995, he was the scientific director at the Molecular Geriatrics Corporation. He started at Northwestern University in 1995 and became a tenured professor of Cell and Molecular Biology in 1998. Recently, he moved to Michigan State University as a tenured professor in Translational Science and Molecular Medicine. Throughout his career he touched the lives of numerous scientists through collaborations, as a mentor, and as a friend. Skip always took great pride in watching his research family flourish. Among his numerous prestigious accolades and awards, Skip received a MERIT award (1997-2007) from the National Institute of Health for demonstrating distinctly superior research competence and productivity. He also held the Abbott Labs Duane & Susan Burnham Professor of Genetic and Molecular Medicine Endowed Chair at Northwestern University. He received sustained funding from the NIH and other foundations throughout his career and his contributions to the field were significant with over 100 publications.
Skip was a world-renowned expert in the Alzheimer’s disease field, where he primarily studied a protein called tau - a protein that is thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease and a number of other disorders. He was often referred to as “the godfather of tau” because of his unmatched understanding of the intricate nuances of this protein and his contributions to the field. He always kept one eye on the importance of how his basic research related to the human diseases it aimed to help. His strong personality, exceptional intelligence, generosity and drive towards doing meaningful research earned him deep respect and admiration among his colleagues.
Beyond his professional accomplishments, his devotion to his wife, children and students will be remembered as his most significant contribution. He was passionate about learning and enjoyed crossword puzzles, cooking, hunting, wine and watching the Chicago Bears.
Skip is survived by his loving wife, Lue Binder of Grand Rapids; two children, Sabrina (Peter) Maggio and Shannon Binder, both of Chicago, Illinois; two step-children, Kate (Jonathan) Tenpenny of Brighton, Kevin Zikis of Sycamore, Illinois; six grandchildren; his mother, Vivian Binder of Caro; three siblings, Mark (Nancy) Binder of Caro, Peggy Binder of St. Clair Shores, Suzanne Novak of Seattle, Washington; the mother of his children, Helen Kim Barnes; and many nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues. Skip was preceded in death by his father, Lester H. Binder in 1998.
In keeping with Skip’s wishes, cremation has taken place. A celebration of his life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at the Ransford Collon Funeral Home in Caro with Rev. Michele Hile officiating and Rev. Steve Fillion offering a eulogy. The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. until the time of the service at 11:00 a.m. Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider memorial contributions to the Salvation Army or the Alzheimer’s Association. The family was assisted with these arrangements by the Ransford Collon Funeral Home of Caro. Friends may share memories, thoughts and prayers online at www.RansfordCollon.com.