Dr. Felix Levere Haas was born on October 26, 1917 in Alvin, Texas, the oldest son of three children. The Alvin native entered the University of Texas at Austin in 1939. His studies were interrupted with the onset of World War II. Haas en listed in the United States Army Air Corps. He received aviation training from January 5, 1942 - September 5, 1942. As a navigator he led numerous combat missions with the 13th Air Force over the South Pacific. He served until February 22, 1946 and was promoted to the rank of Captain.
In June of 1947, Haas received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Genetics and Bacteriology from U.T. He was awarded the Rosalie B. Hite Predoctoral Fellowship and continued to study for his Masters of Arts. Drs. Wilson S. Stone and Orville Wyss were pleased to have Haas as their research fellow. While experimenting he made an important discovery in the genetics of micro-organisms. He found that irradiation of the growth medium resulted in genetic mutations in bacteria when they were grown in it. In short, a biochemical basis must be present to produce mutations.
Felix Haas continued his research earning his M.A. in August of 1948. That same year he met Cathryn E. Swausch, Dr. Wyss' laboratory assistant. They worked closely together for the next two years and were married on January 21, 1950. By June, Dr. Haas received his doctorate in Biochemistry and Biology.
The Haas couple left the University of Texas at Austin for the California Institute of Technology, where Dr. Haas accepted a one year (1950-1951) postdoctoral fellowship in Genetics from the Eli Lilly Company. At the Institute he worked with Drs. George Beadle and Herschell Mitchell. The following year he was awarded a USPHS Postdoctoral Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. With the outbreak of the Korean War Dr. Haas was recalled to active military duty. As a result he had to decline the fellowship.
Upon his return to Texas, Dr. Wilson Stone arranged for him an indefinite delay in the re-activation orders. He also made it possible for Dr. Haas to work as a research scientist for the Atomic Energy Commission. He conducted his research on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin and the Old Baker Estate in Houston (M.D. Anderson Hospital). Professor Stone and Dr. Haas worked closely until March of 1953.
The Bristol Laboratories Inc. of Syracuse, New York offered him the position of Senior Microbiologist. In his three years (1953-1956) with Bristol Laboratories he directed research on: improving by genetic mutations mold strains (Penicillium) used for the commercial production of penicillin; developing the Actinomycete strains which led to the production of tetracycline by fermentation (this production method and strain are currently responsible for the largest part of the world's supply of tetracycline). Dr. Haas also taught graduate students at the University of Syracuse. As an Associate Professor of Genetics he taught Genetics and Radiation Biology.
Dr. and Mrs. Haas and their three young sons left Syracuse, New York in May of 1956 and returned to Houston. The M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute appointed him head of the Department of Biology (1956-1975). His responsibilities included recruitment of faculty, formulating research and teaching policies, long-range planning and investigating funding sources.
From 1973 to 1975 Dr. Haas also served as Assistant to the Director of Research at M.D. Anderson Hospital.
Dr. Haas resigned as head of the Department of Biology in 1975 to assume the full duties of coordinating the research program of the hospital. He supervised and directed the Office of Research and served as advisor to the director and president on all matters concerning research at M.D. Anderson Hospital. In 1979 he accepted the position of staff assistant to the president.
On approval of the Board of Regents, the request for establishment of the UT GSBS was presented to the Texas Legislature, and was passed in Spring 1963. Governor John Connally signed the bill into law on June 10, 1963. By action of the Board of Regents the authorized school was established on September 28,1963.
Dr. Haas was a key figure in the founding of UT GSBS at Houston. He served as an important member of many special and standing GSBS Committees.
Between UT SCC, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute and UT GSBS at Houston Dr. Haas was an active member of nearly twenty committees. They include: Education; Curriculum; Committee on Graduate Studies; Dean's Administrative Committee; Faculty Classification Committee. Virtually, every year since 1949, Dr. Haas has been a principal participant in national and international symposia and conferences. He has written forty three articles and nineteen abstracts. Dr. Haas lists memberships in the following professional and scientific societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society of Microbiology, Genetics Society of America, American Academy of Microbiology, American Institute of Biological Sciences, Radiation Research Society, American Association for Cancer Research, American Genetic Association. He has been honored by Phi Theta Kappa, Sigma Xi, listed in Who's Who in the South and Southwest and American Men of Science.
Dr. Felix L. Haas' leadership, knowledge and skill were essential to the success of established and new programs organized by UT SCC, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute and UT GSBS at Houston. Dr. Haas retired in 1981 to enjoy his love of art, music, and spend time with his wife, Cathryn and their three sons, Michael, Stephen and Larry.