Dr, Ines Mandl passed away August 5, 2016 at age 99. On the occasion of what would have been her 100th birthday, The Chemical Society, with which she had collaborated as a chemist, described her life in the following tribute:
She studied chemistry at the National University of Ireland in Cork. In 1954, she emigrated to the United States, where she continued her studies at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (today: New York University Tandon School of Engineering, NY, USA). She received her Ph.D. there in 1949 for work on the photochemistry of proteins, peptides, and amino acids.
From 1949 until her retirement in 1986, Ines Mandl worked at Columbia University, New York, NY, USA, first as a Research Associate, from 1956 to 1973 as Assistant Professor, from 1973 to 1976 as Associate Professor, and from 1976 to 1986 as Professor. At Columbia, she was the first researcher to isolate the enzyme collagenase from the bacterium Clostridium histolyticum.
Collagenase breaks the peptide bonds in collagen, a structural protein in connective tissue. The enzyme can be used to treat burn wounds, bed sores, herniated discs, and some connective tissue diseases, such as Dupuytren's contracture, in which an excess of collagen causes permanently clenched fingers. Her later research included work on elastin and elastase and on the role of elastin inpulmonary emphysema.
Ines Mandl founded the journal Connective Tissue Research in 1970. Among other honors, she received the Carl Neuberg Medal from the American Society of European Chemists and Pharmacists in 1977, the Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 1983, the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Bordeaux, France. She was a Fellow of the New York Academy of Science.
Dr. Mandl’s retirement years were spent traveling extensively between homes in Maui, HI, New York City, Torremolinos, Spain and spending time in Austria, among other countries in Europe. She amazed her friends with her independence, relentless curiosity, pleasure in small things and encyclopedic memory.
Her generous donations over the years culminated in her creation of the Ines Mandl Research Foundation, Inc. a duly formed 501(c)3 organization and New York corporation of which she was President, to carry on her lifelong mission of trying to find cures for connective tissue disease.