Robert B. McComb, PhD

1984 Outstanding Contributions in a Selected Area of Research

Robert McComb will receive the 12th the Association for Diagnostics & Laboratory Medicine (formerly AACC) Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry in a Selected Area of Research. This award is sponsored by Roche Diagnostic Systems.

Dr. McComb received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Maryland. His B.S. was earned in chemistry, and his Ph.D. was obtained under Professor Veitch, studying D-amino acid oxidase.

In addition to Dr. McComb’s many contributions to the analytical biochemistry of various metabolites, hormones, and drugs, and the identification of toxic substances in human fluids, he has given special attention to the analytical use of enzymes as reagents and particularly to the measurement of the catalytic activity concentration of enzymes in serum. During this postdoctoral work on phosphate and energy metabolism of ascites tumor cells, he developed an ultra-micro analysis for determination of glucose and 2-deoxyglucose in intracellular fluids by use of glucose oxidase.

After joining the Medical Research Laboratory at Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT, Dr. McComb developed several spectrophotometric methods for serum cholinesterase, with the substrates o-nitrophenylbutyrate and benzoylcholine.

Studies to define the optimum concentrations of lactate or pyruvate substrate and the cofactors NAD+ or NADH in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) assays resulted in a candidate Reference Method that was used to assign an activity value to the human serum material, NBS/SRM No. 909. His subsequent interest in the purity of NADH and the phenomenon of “LDH inhibitors” led to the production, isolation, and characterization of these important impurities. Together with his colleagues at Hartford, Dr. McComb has further refined the important numerical value for the molar absorptivity of NADH.

Dr. McComb’s present investigative efforts are directed toward improving the methods for creatine kinase and its isoenzymes. In cooperation with other clinical enzymologists he is an active participant in the development of an international reference system for enzymes that will promote unification of currently incompatible numerical enzyme results on a single scale, the International Clinical Enzyme Scale (ICES).
During Dr. McComb’s career he has authored or co-authored more than 46 journal articles and papers, and two books. He is currently the co-director of the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory at Hartford Hospital.