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Francis O. Schmitt

Institute Professor Emeritus Francis O. Schmitt, internationally recognized as a pioneer in modern biological research and in the study of the brain, died Oct. 3 at his home in Weston. He was 91.

In 1941, Schmitt accepted an invitation from MIT President Karl Taylor Compton to head the Institute's effort to develop a leading center for molecular biology, and started an intensive program of teaching and research in that field.

Schmitt was one of the world's foremost authorities on the biological uses of the electron microscope. Many of the students Schmitt worked with during that period went on to become world leaders in molecular biology.

In the early 1950s Schmitt helped establish a Division of Biochemistry to provide a concentration in this area of analytical biology. He served as head of the biology department from 1942 to 1955, after which he devoted his attention to teaching and research until his official retirement in 1969.

Schmitt was chairman of the Neurosciences Research Program from 1962 to 1974, whereby he promoted what he considered the last frontier of science: the function of the brain.