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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Former Dole 'pineapple scientist' dies at 87

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Steven J. Taussig, a chemist and former director of laboratory services for the Dole Co., died Nov. 1 in Honolulu. He was 87.

Taussig was born in Timisoara, Romania, in 1914 and received a chemical engineering degree at the University of Prague in the former Czechoslovakia. He later earned a doctorate in biochemistry at the University of Bucharest.

After working for 15 years under communist rule, Taussig immigrated to the United States in 1961. That same year, he signed a one-year contract as technical director of Pacific Laboratories in Hawai'i.

His one year became a lifetime in Hawai'i. In 1965, he married a native of his homeland, and they spent the rest of their lives here.

In 1963, he became head of Dole Pineapple's Laboratory Services. During this time, Taussig discovered how to produce the Cox-2 inhibitor from pineapple enzymes.

Cox-2 inhibitors are prescribed for treatment of inflammation and arthritis. The popular drugs Vioxx and Celebrex are Cox-2 inhibitors.

"He was the pineapple scientist," said Charles Lotsof, attorney and longtime friend. "He was not brought here to work on pineapples, but that's what he ended up doing."

In 1975, Taussig formed his own company, Chemical Consultants International, and developed and marketed a dietary supplement extracted from the stem of the pineapple.

Although he took his work seriously, Taussig also had a playful side to him. "He was an imp. He was just a character, always beaming and smiling," Lotsof said. "He had a way with anybody. He would just joke with you, he was so endearing."

Taussig is survived by his son, Paul. Services are pending.