Donald R. Lightfoot served for two years in the US Peace Corps teaching high school chemistry in the Philippines.

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By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 3:03 pm: Edit Post

Donald R. Lightfoot served for two years in the US Peace Corps teaching high school chemistry in the Philippines - now teaches Biology at Eastern Washington University

Donald R. Lightfoot served for two years in the US Peace Corps teaching high school chemistry in the Philippines - now teaches Biology at Eastern Washington University

Donald R. Lightfoot, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Biology


Office: SC 293a.

Phone: (509) 359-7082

FAX: (509) 359-6867


Department of Biology, MS-72

Eastern Washington University

526 Fifth Street

Cheney, Washington 99004-2431,USA

Donald R. Lightfoot's Biography:

Dr. Donald Lightfoot was raised in Los Angeles and graduated in chemistry from the Univ. of Redlands in 1962. He served for two years in the US Peace Corps teaching high school chemistry in the Philippines. He earned postgraduate research degrees at the Univ. of Arizona; the MS in plant virology; the Ph.D. in molecular genetics.

Dr. Lightfoot completed 10 years of graduate and post doctoral training in structure and function of DNA and RNA at Univ. of Arizona, Univ. of Oregon Med. School, and Univ. of California. He determined how to assign low field, high resolution NMR peaks to each base pair in RNA and DNA double helices. He also was the first to survey ribosomal RNA gene copy numbers in the tobacco genus, Nicotiana. Studies on turnip yellow mosaic virus and on 5.8S RNA were published, again illustrating how particular features of gene structure affect function. These latter studies were conducted at Virginia Tech. Univ. and at Eastern Washington Univ. under federal grant support.

Since the mid-1980s at Eastern, Dr. Lightfoot built the first Western university baccalaureate program and facilities in biotechnology.

He has developed three research programs. One project, now completed, created an immunological test that identifies the animal residues found on ancient archeological stone tools. Another project, with US-AID support, resulted in a plant biotechnology laboratory at Univ. of Cape Coast in Ghana and a twin lab at Eastern developing gene enhanced cassava, an important staple in the tropics. The third project has located zinc accumulating soil bacteria in the Kellogg, ID mine district and characterized their effectiveness in toxic metal removal. Dr. Lightfoot is a founder of GenPrime, Inc., a 5-year old Spokane biotechnology company.

Donald R. Lightfoot's Teaching Schedule:

Fall Quarters:

# BIOL 499; BIOL 513; BIOL 519; BIOL 600

Winter Quarters:

# BIOL 499; BIOL 410; BIOL 488; BIOL 519; BIOL 600

Spring Quarters:

# BIOL 499; BIOL 410; BIOL 485; BIOL 489; BIOL 519; BIOL 600

Donald R. Lightfoot's Research Interests:

At Eastern Washington University:

Transgenic Cassava (Manihot esculenta) (1996 - present):

Cassava is the major root crop grown in the poorest tropical soils with the simplest agrinomic practices. It is the main energy and starch food for 500 million people around the equator. We are working in collaboration with University of Cape Coast on the coast of central Ghana in West Africa and with ILTAB at Scripps Inst. in San Diego to master methods of cassava callus and embryo culture and transformation by biolstic gene delivery. The US-AID-UDLP grant sent me(1997) and undergraduate Eric Flamoe(1998) to UCC to build and successfully conduct cassava tissue culture. At EWU, undergraduate Kristin Suprak has mastered the full cycle of culture, embryogenesis, and regeneration. Recombinant plasmids with marker and antisense genes against West African Cassava Mosaic virus are prepared for 'Helios' biolistic transformation, with GUS marker genes, of embryogenic callus spreads.

Soil Microbial Ecology and Toxic Metal Resistance (1991 - present):

Applying PCR-DNA gene amplification and detection, and invitro recombination and mutagenesis, we have a assembled a team to measure and improve soil microbial genes. Our methods havd found 4 new soil bacterial phenotypes for zinc resistance, one being metal accumulation in the periplasm. Our evolution procedures uniquely use the genetic diversity in soil biospheres having many different bacterial metals-resistance mechanisms. We expect to use soil microbial ecology and mechanisms of resistance to toxic metals for remediation and removal from soils.

Archeological Protein Residues - Prehistoric Hunting Tools (1987-2000):

In 1987 my graduate student Alice Taylor used antibodies to show that a stone tool used over 1000 years ago by Northwest Indians for harvesting fish had Steelhead protein residues on it. Dr. Jerry Galm of the Archeological and Historical Services at EWU sponsored this work for 10 years. Graduate students Suzie Lam and Brenda Edmunds refined the test, validated it, and expanded it to 33 regional game animals. This is the first time a broad set of discriminating antibody-antigen sets have been made to identify NW native species. Our test discriminates with 94% reliability between broad groups of animals and can distinguish to 56% reliability between 4 species of salmonidae. The test has been applied very successfully to over200 authentic archeological samples up to 10,000 years old.

Polymerase Chain Reaction - DNA Amplification (1989-1999):

In 1985 the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was invented and today it is a standard in sensitive DNA detection in disease, research and forensics. The main focus of my research is PCR detection of microbes in heavy-metal contaminated soils and ground water. This information leads to studies of population dynamics of the bioremediating microbes. One graduate student, Ken Wagnon, set the foundations for this work in ground water in collaboration with Dr. Jim Frederickson of Battelle PNNL in Richland. He had full funding from NORCUS. We successfully completed developing quantitative methods for soil DNA extraction followed by PCR to detect types of soil bacteria in local soil samples. Grad students Buck Somes and Brent Osborn developed the soil PCR methods. In another project we used PCR to test aquifer water samples for extremely rare bits of DNA indicative of contaminating microbes. A third project, at Sacred Heart Medical Center, uses PCR in the detection of Borelliaburgdorferi (Lyme disease), B. hermsii (relapsing fever), and HIV-1. The Lyme project was with the Centers for Disease Control, Seattle Office, the Washington State Department of Health, the NIH Rocky Mountain Research Laboratories and researchers at WSU and Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Monoclonal Antibody Production To Rat ICAM-1 (1993 - 1995):

A research contract with Dr. H. Darban of the Spokane Heart-Lung transplant program of Dr. T. Icenogle was to make monoclonal antibodies to ICAM-1 protein. This is an adhesion protein for cell to cell attachment and is required in rejection of transplanted tissues by destructive macrophage cells. By injecting monoclonal antibodies that bind ICAM-1 on the transplanted tissue Dr. Darban may block this process.

Fasciola hepatica: Fractionation of Protective Antigens(1982-1988):

New protocols have been developed by me for extraction of antigens of the young liver fluke, a major cattle problem in the west. This work is in collaboration with Dr. B. Lang of EWU. Antisera have been made, the best antigens have been identified. We are preparing copy DNA and total genomic DNA libraries of the parasite. Through the three year effort of a graduate student, Ms. Alice Taylor, an initial copy DNA library of the the messenger RNA of the adult parasite was made. This accomplishment has created opportunity for further recombinant DNA work and probing for producing clones.

Moraxella bovis (Pink eye of Cattle)(1980-1984):

Carefully cloned field isolates of M. bovis were thoroughly examined for 12 phenotypic traits bearing on pathogenesis and were found to fall in two categories, cytotoxic-pathogenic and noncytotoxic-nonpathogenic. Five plasmids common to all M. bovis clones examined were discovered. Nonpathogenic clones contained all five plasmids while pathogenic ones contained only three (2 large and 1 small) plasmids. Sizes of the plasmids were determined.

Yeast 5.8S rRNA Structure (1980-1983):

I prepared subspecies of yeast 5.8S rRNA I (8 mg) and 5.8S rRNA II (50 mg) plus the minor forms a, b, and c at about 0.4 mg each. These five forms of 5.8S rRNA were sequenced and found to differ only in the extension of the 5' end (terminating at from residue -7 to residue +33). 5' end shortening to position 11 drastically reduces 5.8S-28S rRNA native junction complex formation but not 5.8S-5.8S rRNA dimerization. Shortening to position 33 prevents both processes. My data from cobra venom, S1, and T1 nuclease probes, from thermodynamic and matrix predictions, and from 500 MHz NMR melting and NOE studies show the yeast 5.8S rRNAs to have a weak, limited helix structure (24 base pairs) different from the structure accepted for the 15 other 5.8S rRNAs examined.

Bovine 5.8S rRNA Ribose Methyl Structure(1980-1983):

Bovine liver 5.8S rRNA (6 mg) was prepared by a variety of gel electrophoresis and column chromatography methods and was sequenced to verify its identify. As with yeast 5.8S rRNA, NMR experiments on the bovine molecule have only been performed by me, and I use the highest resolution NMR spectrometer. NMR data agree with the accepted, well documented helix structure and they will be useful in understanding the effect of 2'0 methylation at U14.

In Biochemistry and Nutrition: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1974-1979):

Turnip Yellow Mosaic Virus RNAs:

High resolution, pH 3.5, urea-agarose gel electrophoresis of TYMV virion RNAs showed a number of RNA species to exist but that only four RNAs are prevalent early (5 days) after infection begins. The smallest of the four was purified and identified, using several physical and biological properties, as the coat protein mRNA (220,000 daltons). The identities of two of the other RNAs are being determined.

Turnip Yellow Mosaic Virus tRNA:

As a covalent component at the 3' end of TYMV genomic RNA there is an unusual valine transfer RNA. This tRNA was examined kinetically using valine tRNA synthetases from E. coli, yeast, bean and rat and was found to be much better recognized by these enzymes than are pure, usual valine tRNAs from heterologous sources. Thermodynamic considerations predict this tRNA to contain two extra loops in its cloverleaf folding structure, but this very peculiar structure for a tRNA does not prevent it from having a Km of 7 nM with yeast valine synthetase, an exceptionally low value.

Dr. Donald Lightfoot's Publications:

# James, R., and D. Lightfoot, 2000. Assessment of Bacterial DNA Content of Farm Soils. Chemical Communication. 2000:38-44.

# Edmonds, B.J., S. Lam, D. R. Lightfoot, and J. R. Galm, Recovery of Protein from Lithic Tools. 2000; (Archemetrics; in preparation).

# Schurig, G.G., D.R. Lightfoot, H.F. Troutt, and B.I. Finkler. l984. Genotypic, phenotypic, and biological characteristics of Moraxella bovis. Am. J. of Veterinary Research 45: 35-39.

# Lightfoot, D., R. Clark, and P.R. Desjardins. l980. Genomic Fragments of Turnip Yellow Mosaic Virus: Appearance During Infection. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 96: l472-l479.

# Lightfoot, D. l978. Thermodynamics of a Stable Yeast 5.8S rRNA Hairpin Helix. Nucleic Acids Res. 5: 3565-3577.

# Lightfoot, D. l978. Using Video Cassette Recorded Demonstrations in the Biochemistry Laboratory. J. Chem. Educ. 55: 786-787.

# Lightfoot, D.R. and R.F. Steffen. l977. Simplified Production of Video Tape Programs for the Biochemical Laboratory. Biochem. Educ. 5: 47-48.

# Lightfoot, D.R., K.L. Wong, D.R. Kearns, B.R. Reid, and R.G. Shulman. 1973. Assignment of the Low Field Proton NMR Spectrum of Yeast Phenylalanine Transfer RNA to Specific Base Pairs. J. Mol. Biol. 78:71-89.

# Kearns, D.R., D.R. Lightfoot, K.L. Wong, Y.P. Wong, B.R. Reid, L. Cary, and R.G. Shulman. 1973. High Resolution NMR Investigation of Base Pairing Structure of Transfer RNA,. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 222: 324-336.

# Shulman, R.G., G.W. Hilbers, Y.P. Wong, K.L. Wong, D.R. Lightfoot, B.R. Reid, and D.R. Kearns. 1973. Determination of Secondary and Tertiary Structural Features of Transfer RNA Molecules in Solution by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 70: 2042-2045.

# Siegel, A., D. Lightfoot, O.G. Ward, and S. Keener. 1973. DNA Complementary to Ribosomal RNA: A Relation Between the Genomic Proportion and Ploidy, Science 179: 682-683.

# Matsuda, K., A. Siegel, and D. Lightfoot. 1970. Variability in Complementarity for Chloroplastic and Cytoplasmic Ribosomal Ribonucleic Acids Among Plant Nuclear Deoxyribonucleic Acids, Plant Physiol. 46: 6-12.

# Lightfoot, D.R. 1971. Quantitation of Ribosomal Genes in Developing Chinese Cabbage (Brassica pekinensis) and Tobacco Plants (Nicotianatabacum), Ph.D Thesis, University of Arizona.

DR. Donald Lightfoot's Professional Society Memberships:

# American Society for Microbiology

# Biotechnology Association of the Spokane Region, Founder

# Washington State Biotechnology Association, Founder

# American Chemical Society

# The Society of Sigma Xi

# Phi Lambda Upsilon; Chemical Honorary; Chapter Secretary, l967

# American Association for the Advancement of Science

Other Professional and Teaching Responsibilities:

# 2000 Inland N.W. Tech. Education Center, Steering Comm.

# 2000 BioPol, Corp. Consultant

# 1999 Biotechnology Assn. of the Spokane Region, founding member

# 1999 Whitworth College; Murdock grant review consultant

# 1997-1998: Central Washington Univ: Advisory Board on Curriculum Development

# 1997-present Society of Petroleum Engineers, Technical Reviewer

# 1996-present: GenPrime, Inc., Exec. V.P.; President

# 1996-present: BioStar Technologies, Bakersfield, CA; consultant

# 1996 US-AID-UDLP Exchange Biotechnology Faculty, Cape Coast Ghana, (3mo)

# 1996-1997: Washington State Univ.: Consultant on "City Lab", a Biotechnology Laboratory

# 1994-1995: Bellevue Community College: Consultant in Advan. Technology Education

# 1995-present: Spokane Intercollegiate Res. & Tech. Inst., BioDevelopment Laboratory Director

# 1993-present: SIRTI Biotechnology Steering Committee, Member

# 1992-1994: Washington St. Biotechnology Assn. Education Comm., Member

# 1992-1994: Wash. Governor's Biotechnology Targeted Sector Advisory Committee, Member

# 1991-1996: Spokane Area Economic Devel. Council Marketing Chair Group-Biotechnology

# 1991-present: Tenured Associate Professor of Biology, Eastern Washington University Director Biochemistry/Biotechnology

# 1989-1997: NIH-Univ. Washington Primate Research Center; Executive Committee,

# 1988-present: Washington Technology Center, Medical/Veterinary Biotechnology Center, Peer Review Committee; 1989-90 Chairman

# 1988-1997: Consultant in Molecular Genetics, Sacred Heart Medical Center

# 1988-1990: Associate Professor of Chemistry (Adj), Eastern Washington University

# 1987-1996: Biotechnology Study Group of Spokane Area Econ. Dev. Council-Chairman

# 1987, 90, 93 Reviewed National Science Foundation Biotechnology Equipment Grant Proposals

# 1987-1992: Professor of Health Sciences, Eastern Washington University

# 1983-1990: Associate Professor of Biology, Eastern Washington University

# 1980-1983: Adjunct Associate Professor of Biology, Eastern Washington University

# 1975-1979: Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA

# 1971-1974: NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept of Biochemistry, Univ. of California at Riverside

# 1970-1971: NIH Postdoctoral Trainee, Dept of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Univ. of Oregon

Other Information:


Department of Biology

Eastern Washington University

Cheney, Washington 99004

Phone: (509)359-7082

FAX: (509) 359-6867



# University of Arizona, Ph.D. Agricultural Biochemistry, 1967-1971.

# University of Arizona, M.S. Agricultural Biochemistry, 1965-1967.

# University of Redlands, B.A. Chemistry, 1960-1962.


# Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Awardee for 1987, Eastern Washington University

# Fulbright-Hays Teaching/Research Fellow, University of Jordan, (2 months) 1980

# Amer. Soc. of Biological Chemists, International Travel Grant, Stockholm and Cambridge, UK, 1973

# National Institutes of Health, Postdoctoral Fellow, l97l-1974.

# Peace Corps, Philippines, l962-64


# EWU; 1999, $7,500.00; Faculty Research grant; Genetic Basis of Zinc Bodies Inside Soil Bacteria.

# US-AID-UDLP; 1998, $17,000; Gene gun, Helios or plant transformation.

# Tapestry Grant, 1998-1999, $10,000; High School Curriculum; with R. James

# Murdock Charitable Trust, 1998-99, $14,000; with R. James

# SIRTI, 1998-99, Total Bacterial Analysis Cassette: GenPrime, Inc. $130,000.

# SIRTI, 1997-98, Total Bacterial Analysis Cassette: GenPrime, Inc. $210,000.

# Northwest Inst. for Adv. Studies Grant 1997; Bacterial Resistance to Mercury: with W. B. Osborn, $4,994.

# US-AID/EWU Grants Office, 1996, Supplies for Plant Biotechnology Lab in Ghana, $1000.

# Bayer Pharm., 1996-99, Production of Single-Chain and Standard Monoclonal Antibodies, $18,000.

# SIRTI, 1996-97, Test-21, A Biotechnology Incubator Company, $99,593; with several others.

# Northwest Inst. for Adv. Studies 1993-94; Identification of Biologicals by DNA and Antibody Methods $4300.

# Heart Inst. of Spokane, 1993-94, Production of Monoclonal Antibodies Against ICAM-1; with Dr. Darban; $1971.

# NSF Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement Program Grant 1991-1993. Enhanced Teaching and Student

# Research Capabilities Using FT NMR; $213,868; with Dr. E. McGoran, et al.

# Wenner-Gren Foundation, 1990-91, Immune Discrimination of Vertebrate Species; with Dr. J. Galm; $2678.

# Northwest Inst. for Adv. Studies 1989-90, Archeological Fish Residues on Stone Tools by ELISA; $3661.

# NSF College Sci. Inst. Program 1986-88. Equipping the Undergraduate Biotechnology Program; $89,000

# Northwest Inst. for Adv. Studies, 1982-83. Characterization of Plasmids Which Correlate with Pathogenesis of Moraxella bovis; $3279.

# Research Corporation Grant, 1976-1984, to study viral RNA structures; $13,000.

# NIH, AID, 1981-1983, Control of Diphtheria Toxin Synthesis by Iron, Co- with Dr. H.N. Lightfoot; $116,698.

# NIH, NCI, 1980-1983, Structure of Hypomethylated Tumor 5.8S Ribosomal RNA; $126,474.

# NIH, AID, 1977-1979, Control of Diphtheria Toxin Synthesis by Iron, Co- with Dr. H.N. Lightfoot; $53,294.

# NSF Sci. Equip. Grant, 1975-77, video tape recorded demonstrations of biochemical procedures; $13,000.

Dr. Donald Lightfoot's Graduate Thesis Directed:

Master of Science Theses:

# "Aminoacylation Kinetics and Specificity for Viral Genomic RNAs", Robin Clark, M.S., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, 1978.

# "Obtaining Proteins of the Digenetic Trematode, Fasciola hepatica, by Use of cDNA", Alice P. Taylor, M.S., Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA, 1988.

# "Discrimination of Archaeological Proteins by Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA)", Suzie My Lam, M.S., Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA, 1995.

# "Polymerase Chain Reaction Amplification of Mercury Resistance and 16S Ribosomal-RNA Genes in Soil and Sediment", Matthew C. Awbrey, M.S., Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA, 1995.

# "Robust and Rapid Method for Direct Extraction of DNA from Soil for PCR Analysis", J. Buck Somes, M.S., Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA, 1996.

# "Recovery and Identification of Ancient Protein Residues Off Archaeological Stone Tools", Brenda J. Edmunds, M.S., Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA, 1997.

# "PCR Detection and Quantification of Bacterial DNA in Soil: Site Characterization of the Almaden Mercury Mine, Washington County, Idaho" W. Brent Osborn, M.S., Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA, 1999.

# "The Effects of Glucose and Amino Acids on Glomerulosclerosis", Stephanie D. Flynn, M.S., Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA, 2000.

# "The Transient Expression of B-Glucuronidase in Biolistics Transformed Cassava", Noah B. Pefaur, M. S. Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA 2000.

# "Selection, Characterizaion, and Genetic Analysis of Zinc-Accumulating Soil Bacteria" Ruby J. Siegel, M.S., Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA, 2000.

# "Molecular Detection of Microbes in Heavy Metal Environments"; .Kenneth Wagnon, thesis not written, June 1990 to 1995.

Postdoctoral Scientists Directed at EWU:

# Dr. Earl Fleck, Professor of Biology at Whitman College; 6 months 1981. He devised new electrophoretic methods of DNA isolation.

# Dr. Guang Sun, physician in Guangchow (Canton) China;4 months 1985. He learned basics of biotechnology and applied hybridoma skills at home lab.

# Dr. Anna Starzenska, Polish Biochemist from Paris; 3 months, 1990. Collaborated with Dr. E. Gilmour and D. Lightfoot on developing very sensitive DNA detection method in ancient fossils using the polymerase chain reaction.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Philippines; Special Interests - Agricultural Biochemistry; Special Interests - Biology



By Contings sister ( - on Friday, May 20, 2005 - 6:49 pm: Edit Post

Hi Dr. Lightfoot,

I am not sure if you were teaching in Bacolod City, Negros Occ. Philippines when you were a PCV there. If so, You taught with my sister, Conting At City Heights, Bacolod.

I am indeed mighty proud of your accomplishments and if you can find the time to email me back, I'll appreciate that much, if not, that's understandable.

I too was a Staff Member for Peace Corps in Pepeekeo, Hawaii and I know Lone Castillo personally. I am enclosing my email in case you have the time to email me back.

By Chuck Sara ( - on Friday, January 06, 2006 - 4:34 pm: Edit Post

You may or may not remember me. My former wife Nancy and I were neighbors of yours in Blacksburg. You single handedly got me through Organic Chemistry. At the time, I was going for a masters in dairy science. I took a left turn and ended up as a patent attorney in Madison Wisconsin with a new wife (now 25 years) and family. The Indian blanket you bought for me in Arizona hangs on my office wall. My best to you and your family. Looks like you have done exceedingly well since your VaTech days.
Chuck Sara

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