Biology author Henry Tedeschi
became hooked on biology after reading Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species in fifth grade.
Tedeschi was born in Italy, and lived in Switzerland and Argentina before moving to the United States when he was 17 to attend the University of Pittsburgh.
Thinking job opportunities would be aplenty, he
brought only enough money to last one year.
"To this day I have difficulty in figuring out why my parents consented to my plans," Tedeschi
"In those days travel was not very common -- mostly for financial reasons, one way from Buenos Aires to New York by airplane was approximately $1,200, then the price of a car -- and we would be isolated from each other except for lively correspondence that we always maintained."
After receiving his bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1950, Tedeschi went on to the University of Chicago for a doctorate in physiology.
"When I started my research in 1952, the existence of the cell organelles called mitochondria and their biochemical role -- the main energy suppliers of the cell -- was just beginning to be seriously recognized," he said.
"I showed that they were surrounded by a functional membrane that could select what molecules went through.
In addition, I made some other observations, one was that one of the mitochondrial membranes has deep folds like an accordion."
has written more than 70 scientific articles on various physiology topics.
After graduating from the University of Chicago in 1955, Tedeschi taught at the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago and later as at the State University of New York at Albany where he pioneered the electrical studies of the mitochondrial membrane.
He retired as chair of the department of biological sciences in 1985 and professor in 1998 at the University of New York at Albany.
wrote the first edition of Cell Physiology: Molecular Dynamics, published by Academic Press
, in 1974.
Because there was a serious lag between research and what was taught in medical schools, particularly on the revolution in genetics and molecular biology, Tedeschi
was always writing material for the graduate students in his
"This was my contribution to our graduate program and allowed me to keep up to date," he
"At the urging of one of my colleagues, I signed a contract to write Cell Physiology: Molecular Dynamics."
After the first edition, Academic Press
wasn't interested in a second.
The rights were returned to Tedeschi
Tedeschi searched again for another publisher, but then decided to publish it himself -- on the web.
The web version of Cell Physiology: Molecular Dynamics, published under the name Minerbi Enterprises, went online in August 1998.
It was the first subscription-based web book in the field.
It is accessed through an ID and password at www.cellphysiology.com.
updates the site just about every day.
"When I started writing textbooks, there was no such thing as the web," he
"Now that it was possible, I thought it would be fun to have a book that can be updated whenever I felt the need for it.
And with a field like cell biology, you want to update continually, something you can't do with traditional publishing.
For a small publisher, in a rapidly changing field, this is the way to go."
Some advantages of web publishing, said Tedeschi
, are the ability to revise easily and keep yourself up-to-date with the field.
"It allows me to indulge myself in topics I would normally not touch," he
Since retiring, he
works on updating the book full-time.
The 24-chapter web book has 22 library and class adopters and 300 individual subscriptions, including some from abroad -- Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan and Mexico.
"It's not clear how many students this represents because some of the classes are very small and some very large," Tedeschi
Subscriptions are $20 for individuals and $100 for libraries or entire classes.
also allows the subscriptions to be used in multiple classes from the same institution.
"My guess is that the use is modest -- about 1,500 to 2,000 students per year," he
enjoyed teaching tremendously: "My research, teaching and authoring have been equally rewarding.
It is satisfying to see students' minds move, challenge, probe."
While at SUNY
developed a new sophomore course in cell biology.
It included essay exams and tests every week.
"The improvement from one set of tests to another was enormous," he
Several of his
students went on to become successful in their field.
Four became professors, one at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
, another at Drake University
and another is at the New York University School of Dentistry
and Terry Kershner were married in 1957.