Council Commentary

Celebrating the Life of Dr. Samuel “Sab” Koide

The Population Council celebrates the life of Dr. Samuel “Sab” Koide, a giant at the Center for Biomedical Research, who died earlier this month. Koide spent nearly four decades at the Population Council helping to understand the basic science of reproduction and advance contraceptive development. Koide's discoveries and contributions to science continue to impact the field today.  

Koide joined the Population Council’s Center for Biomedical Research in 1965 as a Senior Scientist, where he worked until his retirement into his 80s.  He was known as a great mentor and colleague to CBR collaborators, and worked with them to publish over 300 scientific papers during his remarkable career.  Highlights of some of Koide's research include the purification and preparation of ß-hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin ß-subunit); the structural characterization of sperm-specific antigens, some of which have now been tested by other investigators as possible non-hormonal male contraceptives; the identification of genes relating to zebrafish embryo development; and the regulation of testis differentiation in fetal mice, including the initiation of testis development in the fetal mouse ovary.  His multi-decade long career at the Population Council was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and many other public and private foundations in the field. 

Outside of the Population Council, Koide held faculty positions at the Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, the Rockefeller University and the Cornell Medical School; and received his MS, MD and PHD from Northwestern University. As a graduate of the University of Hawaii in 1945, he received their Distinguished Graduate Award in 1996 and the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006. He was also a summer researcher for over two decades at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  

Koide was also known for his endurance sports career, which he began at the age of 52, and continued into his 80’s. He was profiled in 2004 at the age of 81 in The New York Times as an “accidental marathoner.” He twice won the New York City Marathon for his age group.  

Koide’s family recognizes that his proudest achievement was serving his country in World War II, writing, “As a Japanese American, he felt a tremendous responsibility to his country and trained in the Military Intelligence Service Language School of the US Army. He served overseas in the Philippines and in Occupied Japan, achieving the rank of First Lieutenant.” In 2011, he was bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal to honor his service as a Japanese-American veteran who bravely fought during World War II.  

Our thoughts are with Koide’s family and loved ones, as he was predeceased 6 weeks prior by his beloved wife of 61 years, Dr. Sumi Koide. The Population Council will remember and celebrate the life of Dr. Sab Koide, and all that he’s contributed to the field of reproductive health.  

Read the full obituary of Dr. Sab Koide.