Jessie Van Baalen Warms, 82, of Melrose Park, an accomplished ice dancer and a cancer researcher who worked with a Nobel laureate, died of complications of Alzheimer's disease Wednesday, Dec. 8, at Rydal Park Medical Center.
Mrs. Warms, who had a master's degree in biochemistry, joined the research staff of Fox Chase Cancer Center in 1963, after her two children were in school.
That year, Dr. Irwin Rose arrived at Fox Chase from Yale Medical School's department of biochemistry.
In his research lab at Fox Chase, Mrs. Warms assisted Rose in the study of the breakdown of proteins within cells. Starting in the late 1970s, he focused on the regulatory protein ubiquitin - so named because it is ubiquitous in the cells of animals and plants.
Ubiquitin helps regulate important proteins that control cell reproduction. Understanding that mechanism allows researchers to identify mistakes in the process that may cause disease, including cancer.
In 2004, Rose and two Israeli colleagues, Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the discovery of "ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation."
In his Nobel lecture, Rose acknowledged Mrs. Warms for her contributions in his Fox Chase lab.
Rose and Mrs. Warms coauthored more than 25 articles published in professional journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
She retired as senior research associate in 1992.
A lifelong resident of Melrose Park, Mrs. Warms graduated from Friends Select School in Philadelphia.
She earned a bachelor's degree from Smith College and a master's degree in biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. She was then a researcher at Penn's medical school for several years.
Mrs. Warms was a tennis player and gymnast in her youth and particularly loved ice skating, her husband, Robert A. Warms, said.
The couple married in 1953, and in 1960 they joined the Old York Road Skating Rink. They later joined the Wissahickon Skating Club.
Mrs. Warms performed in amateur ice-dancing competitions until her late 60s, and often won. She and her husband also volunteered at local and national skating events.
They enjoyed attending lectures and in the summer enrolled in courses for alumni at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., his alma mater.
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Warms is survived by a son, Richard; a daughter, Patty Warms Lukoff; and four grandchildren.
No service is planned.
Donations may be made to Fox Chase Cancer Center, attn. Development Office, 333 Cottman Ave., Philadelphia 19111.