John: a legend, a mentor, and a friend
We were asked to give stories about John, and this was a recent one from me. One day I was passing Madonna's office, she called me: "（My name), could you help me check if Dr. Atkinson is in the man's room?". I was surprised but have to follow her order to the man's room to check. I saw that a chamber was closed but someone occupied it. I can't tell who was inside because the door was closed. Once I noticed many manuscript papers on the floor, I knew I got him. "Dr. Atkinson," I asked. He responded: "Yeah!", I then said: "Madonna said you have a phone call." Actually, the phone call was from Dr. Grant, the ophthalmologist who discovered the CRV syndrome with John. For so many years, I tried to suggest that because the names of CRV or RVCL were so confused that they should consider just name the syndrome "Grant-Atkinson disease."
John is such a dedicated man who works long hours on weekdays and virtually every Saturday in the lab for so many decades. We all search for so-called biomarkers in our studies, our lab's routine signal is that once the door was opened before 7 AM it indicated that John was in town as he always comes to work that early. It was equally amazing that there were baked foods available in the office every Friday morning spanning more than thirty years, he brought them from bakery store of the neighborhood when he came to work.
John has his historical place in the research area of complement and innate immunity by discovering the membrane complement regulators and RCA gene cluster, I remembered clearly in one lecture at WashU, John paused a little bit in watching the slide of the diagram of MCP, he said: "This molecule dears to my heart." In one of the international conference, one graduate student from Piet Gros' group came to me and said that they could not believe that John and his colleague mutated virtually all of the amino acids of MCP molecule. She told me that nowadays nobody is going to do science like this to generate a single JBC paper.
But the most important thing for me is that he is a decent human being. I think there was a famous Chinese phrase termed "严于律己，宽以待人," it could be translated into English as "Self-discipline and lenient towards others," John is indeed such person, a warm-hearted Midwest American who was born in the Fourth of July. A farmer's boy who went all the way from Kansas to Harvard and finally becomes a legend at Washington University in St. Louis. John's father served in the World War II in Alaska against Japanese army, but his early lab was an attractive place for Japanese trainees as one former postdoc fellow occasionally slept in John's office in those busy and exciting years of discovering MCP.
（对我来说最重要的事情是约翰是一位纯粹而高尚的人。我想到中国的一句俗语“严于律己，宽以待人”，翻译成英文为 "Self-discipline and lenient towards others,"，约翰确实是这样的一位人，一位出生在七月四日独立日的阳光灿烂的美国中西部人。作为农民的儿子，他从堪萨斯去哈佛并且最终成为圣路易斯华盛顿大学的一个传奇。在第二次世界大战中，约翰的父亲参与了在阿拉斯加的对日本作战，但是约翰早期的实验室为相当吸引日本博士后的地方，在发现MCP的繁忙和激动人心的岁月，一位前日本博士后有时甚至睡在约翰的办公室里。）
John was undoubtedly the team member of University of Kansas' basketball, but there was a little secret that his wife Andrea leaked to my wife （名字省略） when she guided the group touring Beijing. Andrea said when they were dating in the high school, John's energy and activity in the basketball court were substantially increased when Andrea appeared the court.
When Richard retired from the lab, I went with him to Little Saigon for celebration. We all believed John is such a gifted man for virtually every part that he had passions on them; we certainly wish him great health and wellbeing in the years to come.
Descriptions for the photo: This photo was taken in Basel, Switzerland when we had our complement workshop; this is our big family when my daughter （名字省略）was so young and seemed in charging of the table, now she is going to be a sophomore at WashU. I remembered that dinner was paid by John's credit card with more than 700 Swiss francs while Claudia was helping John to calculate the tips.
阿肯森夫妇与他最得意的学生Andy Chan。来自香港的安迪在西北大学读完本科和硕士，他的MD/PhD学位是在圣路易斯华大获得的。安迪在UCSF做临床专科时因发现重要淋巴细胞传导蛋白ZAP-70而出名，后来重回华大做教授和HHMI研究员。安迪现为Genentech的资深副总裁（SVP), 他是阿肯森的骄傲。