Edward Dennis of La Jolla takes scholarly approach to his long career in science

Edward A. Dennis is Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine at UCSD. He received his BA from Yale University in 1963 and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1967, a Doctorate in Medicine (honorary) from Goethe University in Frankfurt in 2008, and he served as a Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School 1967-69.

At UCSD, Dr. Dennis has served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Chair of the Faculty Academic Senate, and on the Board of Overseers. He has also been Visiting Professor at several universities and is an adjunct professor at The Scripps Research Institute.

He has authored 350 research publications, patented 15 inventions, and edited 13 books. Dr. Dennis was named an inaugural Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1984, and was the recipient of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Avanti Award in Lipid Enzymology in 2000, the European Federation for Lipid Science and Technology’s European Lipid Science Award in 2007, and Yale University’s Yale Medal in 2008.

What brought you to La Jolla?

On Jan. 1, 1970 I started on a cross-country drive to a little village on the other ocean for my first job as an assistant professor in the formative days of UCSD. It was a great move and I never looked back.

What are your favorite places to go in La Jolla?

I enjoy walking on the La Jolla Shores beach, the Coast Walk cliff and alongside La Jolla Cove.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add to improve La Jolla?

Rebalance the human and animal interests in the Cove.

Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by the creativity, curiosity, and inventiveness of the many outstanding educational/research institutions of La Jolla.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

It would be a potluck six-course dinner, hosted by my wife and I with six memorable chefs, both past and present, each bringing their favorite dish. The list of chefs includes Julia Child, Pierre Troisgros, Tetsuya Wakuda, Alex Atala, Eric Pras and Thomas Keller.


Tell us about what you are reading.

”The Entrepreneurial President,” a recently published book about the leadership of Dick Atkinson, former Chancellor of UCSD and president of the University of California.

What would be your dream vacation?

A flying tour of the greatest vineyards of the world starting in California and progressing south to Argentina and Chile, west to New Zealand, across Australia, on to South Africa, then to Germany, and finally, France.

What are your five favorite plays of all time?

My favorite stage productions are “A Walk in the Woods,” “Jersey Boys,” “I Am My Own Wife,” “Memphis,” and “Blood and Gifts” — all created at the La Jolla Playhouse!

What is your most-prized possession?

My wife (who is a partner and NOT a possession!)

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Keep actively involved in the communities in your life.