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Russell Sinnhuber

Russell Sinnhuber

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April 28, 1917 - July 10, 2003

Russell O. Sinnhuber of Corvallis died suddenly July 10 at the home of his daughter, Carol Lehman, in Modesto, Calif. He was 86.

He was born to Friedrich and Rosalie Bethke Sinnhuber in St. Clair Heights, Mich. He graduated in 1935 from Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan, where he had shown a special aptitude for science. He received a bachelor's degree in organic chemistry in 1939 from Michigan State College, now Michigan State University. He moved to Astoria, where he was employed as a biochemist by Oregon State College, now Oregon State University, in the seafoods laboratory for the next 14 years. He received a master's degree from Oregon State in 1941.

He married Dorothy A. Collins on Aug. 22, 1942, in Greenfield Village, Mich. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1992 and had been married for more than 59 years at the time of her death on Dec. 10, 2001. In 1956, the Sinnhuber family moved to Corvallis, were he worked as a researcher in the department of food science and technology at Oregon State and achieved full professor status.

While at OSU he became internationally known for his research contributions in advancing the biomedical field, publishing more than 100 research papers in the areas of food science and toxicology. In 1958, with T.C. Yu, he developed the 2-Thiobarbituric (TBA) method for measurement of rancidity in fishery products. This paper was recently found to be one of the most frequently quoted publications from OSU in the scientific literature. From his research in the 1960s, he determined that a potent chemical carcinogen, aflatoxin, found in moldy cottonseed meal, caused liver cancer in hatchery-reared rainbow trout, in levels as low as 1 part per billion. He recognized that the trout's extreme sensitivity to aflatoxin made it an excellent model for cancer research. In 1965, he established the OSU Food Nutrition and Toxicology Laboratory, located south of Corvallis. This facility is the only trout hatchery in the world devoted to cancer research. Later he developed a method to measure the levels of aflatoxin in human foods as well as animal foods. This method is still widely used today.

In 1966, he received the United States Department of the Interior Conservation Service Award for his work with Duncan Law at the Astoria Seafoods Laboratory in developing the Oregon Moist Pellet that still provides the major source of fish hatchery food. This diet was responsible for insuring successful salmon runs for many years in the Pacific Northwest and also in the Great Lakes region.

He retired from OSU as emeritus professor in 1981 and then spent much of his time with his wife at their home on Yaquina bay, near Toledo, as a commercial fisherman and oyster farmer. After suffering a brain hemorrhage in 1998, he moved to Stoneybrook Lodge, where he lived until March of 2003, when he came to Modesto, Calif., to be close to his daughter.

He was a member of the Knollbrook Christian Reformed Church. He enjoyed gardening, carpentry and gourmet cooking.

Survivors include his daughter, Carol A. Lehman of Modesto; sons, John R. of Carmel, Calif., and Gary F. of Homer, Alaska; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by his brother, Jack, in 1984.

A service will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, at Knollbrook Christian Reformed Church. Pastor Ken Van Schelven will officiate. A reception in the church will follow. Memorial donations can be made to the OSU Foundation Russell O. Sinnhuber Memorial Scholarship Fund.

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