It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of James Patrick O’Neil on August 7 at age 55 from complications related to heart failure. A staff scientist in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division, Jim worked at Berkeley Lab for 24 years. He passed away surrounded by family and friends and will be dearly missed. A memorial service will be held at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley on Saturday, October 20, at 2 PM.
While studying chemical reactions of a gold-containing molecule, Berkeley Lab researchers led by Jim O’Neil in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) division and Dean Toste in the Chemical Sciences division happened upon a chemical mechanism that can be used to form trifluoromethyl (CF3) compounds and attach them to other chemical compounds. Mark Levin, who participated in the study as a UC Berkeley graduate student working with O’Neil at the Biomedical Isotope Facility at Berkeley Lab, was first author on the study published in Science. The discovery could aid in the synthesis of new radiotracers for use with the 3-D medical imaging technology known as positron emission tomography (PET). Read more from the Berkeley Lab News Center.