Disease expert Randolph Chase

Dr. Randolph Chase, one of the first tenured black members of the New York University medical school faculty and an infectious disease expert whose research shed light on organ transplant rejections, died May 16 in Manhattan. He was 79.

The cause was complications after a stroke, his family said.

In 1954, when he entered NYU's School of Medicine, Chase was one of two black students in a class of 135. He excelled in the classroom, and, after graduation, conducted research in immunology and infection at Rockefeller University in Manhattan.

With a surgeon, Dr. Felix Rapaport, Chase studied the harmful effects of blood-borne bacteria on grafted tissue, in work that would shed light on heart-valve surgery and the immunological rejection of organ transplants. The researchers examined how, in the course of a tissue transplant, streptococcal bacteria may act in a way similar to antigens, the proteins that can cause the body to start a protective immune response.

Chase was appointed an assistant professor of medicine at NYU in 1964 and became director of the school's clinical microbiology laboratory soon after. In the 1970s, he concentrated on teaching and clinical work, meanwhile representing NYU's medical school in the university's administrative senate.