Dr. Jack Gregory Chirikjian, the founding director of Georgetown’s Masters in Biotechnology Program, passed away peacefully surrounded by family at his home in Washington, D.C., on September 30, 2018, shortly before his 78th birthday.
Born in 1940 to Armenian parents in Cairo, Egypt, he emigrated in 1959 to the United Slates, where he achieved the quintessential American Dream and was a proud patriot of his adoptive country. Dr. C, as so many lovingly called him, was a professor of biochemistry for 46 years at Georgetown University, where he touched the lives of countless students and won numerous awards. His capstone achievement was the establishment of the Master’s in Biotechnology Program. He was also a successful entrepreneur and founded no less than seven biotechnology companies spanning education and research. Jack was a dedicated researcher and owned numerous patents throughout his career.
Below is a brief timeline of notable moments in Jack’s life.
Born Mergedij Gregory Chirikjian in Cairo, Egypt, of Armenian descent on December 10, shortly before failed invasions by Nazi Germany during WWII
Attends private Catholic schools
Son of Armenian genocide survivor
Dr. C’s father owned a Cairo tailor shop renowned for its quality
Name changed to Jack G. Chirikjian (after Jack Kennedy) at immigration border
Immigrates to US in December 1959; educational journey in the U.S. begins
Attends Trenton State College on scholarship
Dr. C earns his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Rutgers in 1969, starts postdoc at Princeton
Accepts position as Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center in 1972 (the Basic Science Building was new!)
Founds Oncor (Oncology Corporation) in 1983; develops early BRAC1/BRAC2 diagnostics for a total of 7 companies: BRL Inc., ONCOR, Capitol Biotek Consulting, EdvoTek, TreviGen, DNA Depot, Amelia Technologies