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  • Mon, February 25, 2019 8:37 AM | Karen Gottlieb (Administrator)

    Gavril Pasternak, MD, PhD

    The Memorial Sloan Kettering community mourns the loss of Gavril Pasternak, MD, PhD, who dedicated his career as a physician and scientist to improving pain management for cancer patients. Educated at the Johns Hopkins University, he graduated from its MD-PhD program where he carried out seminal studies characterizing the first opioid receptor and contributed to the discovery of endogenous opioids. He joined the MSK faculty in 1979 and held appointments in both the Department of Neurology and the Sloan Kettering Institute. He was the incumbent of the Anne Burnett Tandy Chair in Neurology. Gav’s research focused on defining and understanding novel targets of opioid action, including the development of new medications with fewer side effects. He published more than 400 papers. In addition to serving as a generous mentor, Gav was known for his love of lacrosse and for founding New York City’s first youth lacrosse league.

  • Tue, December 25, 2018 8:45 AM | Karen Gottlieb (Administrator)

    William C. Buss, PhD

    Will was a beloved colleague, research scholar, dedicated educator and compassionate mentor. Bill joined the Department of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine in 1973, where he taught medical pharmacology and conducted research on the immunosuppressant effects of cyclosporine. Bill rose up through the ranks to professor and served as chair of the Pharmacology Department for 10 years.

    Even after his retirement from active participation in research in 1997, he continued his teaching commitments until just two months before his passing. His passion for sharing his knowledge of pharmacology will be remembered by the multitude of medical students who had the privilege of attending his lectures over his 45-year career.

    Bill’s life was also filled with the robust pursuit and enjoyment of his varied interests. In retirement, he rekindled his love of art and enjoyed working with pastels to capture the beauty of the Sandia Mountains. Bill’s work won regional and national recognition and was shown locally at the Matrix Fine Art Gallery in Albuquerque.

    Bill was a voracious reader and wanderer, traveling all over England, France, Greece, Italy, Nepal, Russia and Turkey. Bill was also a well-known oenophile, who freely shared his knowledge of wine and wine making. In collaboration with friends, Bill established Primrose Vineyards at his Corrales property, where he proudly shared his award-winning chardonnay wines with guests.

    While Bill had many passions in life, both the education of our medical students and protection of our wild spaces were very important to him. To honor his life, donations on his behalf can be sent to the School of Medicine White Coat Campaign or to the WildEarth Guardians.

  • Tue, December 18, 2018 8:38 AM | Karen Gottlieb (Administrator)

    Attallah Kappas, MD, professor emeritus at The Rockefeller University and physician-in-chief emeritus at The Rockefeller University Hospital, died December 18, 2018 at the age of 92. Kappas was a leading authority in diseases related to liver function and metabolism and in the development of diagnostics and treatments for those conditions. Among the diseases that Kappas studied was porphyrias, a group of often-hereditary disorders that result when substances called porphyrins build up in the body. One of the best-known porphyrins is heme, a component of the oxygen-carrying molecule hemoglobin. Porphyrias most commonly affect the nervous system and the skin, depending on their subtype, and can be chronic or acute.

    One of Kappas’ most far-ranging and lasting contributions was in research uncovering the molecular mechanisms that instigate jaundice in newborn babies. Jaundice, which affects more than half of all babies to some degree, is caused by high levels of a bilirubin, a yellow pigment in the blood that is normally metabolized by the liver. If the condition goes untreated, it can cause irreversible damage to the central nervous system.

    Bilirubin forms naturally when heme breaks down. Kappas conducted extensive research on heme degradation and heme oxygenase, the enzyme that controls this process. Currently, neonatal jaundice is treated by exposing babies to intense light, which breaks down bilirubin, but the treatment can be time-consuming and may not be available in developing areas that lack electricity. To that end, Kappas worked on the development of a compound called tin mesoporphyrin (SnMP), which inhibits heme oxygenase. SnMP is now being investigated in clinical trials in the United States and a number of other countries. Kappas also studied how drugs are metabolized by the liver and conducted research on illnesses caused by exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment, including lead poisoning.

    Kappas, who was the Sherman Fairchild Professor Emeritus, was born in Union City, New Jersey, in 1926. Drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II, he went on to receive his A.B. from Columbia University in 1947 and his M.D. with honors from the University of Chicago School of Medicine in 1950. He was an American Cancer Society Research Fellow at the Sloan Kettering Institute and later completed a residency at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, part of Harvard Medical School.

    After the completion of his medical training in 1957, he served 10 years on the faculty at the University of Chicago, where he was head of the section of metabolism and arthritis and also a Commonwealth Fund Fellow and visiting scientist at the Courtauld Institute of Biochemistry at Middlesex Hospital Medical School in London. He was a guest investigator and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow at Rockefeller in 1966, then joined the Rockefeller faculty the following year.

    Kappas was physician-in-chief of Rockefeller’s hospital from 1974 to 1991 and served as a Rockefeller vice president from 1983 to 1991. He also had affiliations with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, Johns Hopkins University Hospital, the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, and the Karolinska Institute.

    Kappas received a number of prestigious awards over the years, including a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Special Award in Clinical Pharmacology (1973), a Distinguished Service Award in Medical Science from the University of Chicago (1975), the ASPET Award for Distinguished Research in Experimental Therapeutics from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (1978), the American College of Physicians Award for Outstanding Contributions to Internal Medicine (1991), and the Professional Achievement Citation, also from the University of Chicago (1995). In 1989, he received the inaugural NIH Award for Excellence in Clinical Research.

    Kappas is survived by his three sons, Nicholas Kappas, Peter Kappas, and Michael Kappas, and many grandchildren.

  • Wed, October 10, 2018 8:42 AM | Karen Gottlieb (Administrator)

    Ernest Hodgson, PhD

    Ernest Hodgson, long time resident of Raleigh and Distinguished Professor of Toxicology at North Carolina State University died on October 10, 2018 in Raleigh. He was preceded in death by his wife of 42 years, Mary K. Devlin Hodgson, and is survived by his four children, Mary Elizabeth Hodgson, Audrey Catherine Hodgson Myers, Patricia Emily Devlin Hodgson and Ernest Victor Felix Hodgson as well as four grandchildren, Carl Ernest Larson, Maxwell Patrick Larson, Robert Christopher Myers and Christopher Thomas Myers.

    Dr. Hodgson was Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology at NCSU. He was born July 26, 1932 in Hetton-le-Hole, Durham, England and educated at the King’s College of the University of Durham (now Newcastle University) (B. Sc., with Honors), and Oregon State University (Ph.D.). After a Post- Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Entomology at NCSU in 1961, becoming a William Neal Reynolds Professor in 1977 and the first head of the new Department of Toxicology in 1989. He was well known for his toxicological research and his outreach activities as well as his service to the profession of toxicology. He was also known as the editor and lead author of two well received toxicology textbooks. His work as a lexicographer included the Dictionary of Toxicology and the Dictionary of Agromedicine.

    He was recognized for his contributions to toxicology on many occasions. He received the Education Award, the Merit Award (1994) and the Distinguished Toxicology Scholar Award (2012) from SOT as well as the Burdick & Jackson Award (1989) and the Sterling Hendricks Award (1997), from the American Chemical Society and the Fred J. DiCarlo Distinguished Service Award from the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX). In 1996 he received the O. Max Gardner Award, an award given by the Consolidated University of North Carolina to the faculty member considered to have made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race in the past year. He served ISSX in a number of capacities, most notably as President in 1998 and 1999.

    Dr. Hodgson was one of the organizers of the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute and Agromedicine continued to be a lifelong interest.

  • Thu, September 06, 2018 8:41 AM | Karen Gottlieb (Administrator)

    Lowell E. Hokin, MD, PhD

    Lowell Edward Hokin, M.D. Ph.D., an internationally recognized biochemist, died on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, at age 93. Dr. Hokin was most well known for his discovery, along with Dr. Mabel Hokin, of receptor-stimulated lipid turnover, the “Phosphoinositide Effect,” in the 1950s. This led to the understanding, years later, of how hormones and neurotransmitters produce cell responses. Lowell went on to discover the fundamental biochemical features of sodium-potassium ATPase, the enzyme that controls ion gradients and neuronal activity in living cells, and he served as chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison from 1970 to his retirement to emeritus faculty in 1993.

    Lowell was born in 1924 in Peoria, Ill., to Oscar E and Helen Gussie (Manfield), and went to Peoria High School. He started college at the University of Chicago, but soon enlisted in the U.S. Navy V- 12 Program to study medicine at Dartmouth. After the war ended, he continued at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, where he received his M.D., followed by a residency at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. Lowell had always intended to pursue science, however, and soon moved to Sheffield, England, where he conducted his doctoral research in biochemistry under Sir Hans Krebs. It was there that he met Mabel Neaverson, a graduate student in a nearby lab, and they continued as both research partners and spouses at McGill University. Lowell obtained his faculty position at the University of Wisconsin in 1957.

    He enjoyed classical music and opera, fishing and alpine skiing, BBC television, and reading nonfiction and medicine. Lowell and Mabel had three children, Linda, Catherine and Samuel, and Lowell had another son, Ian, with his later wife Barbara (Gallagher). Lowell met his wife, Dr. Vivian Littlefield, in 2000 and they shared years of adventures and happiness, moving to Parker, Colo. in 2016. Her care and love brought him great comfort in his final days.

    He is survived by Vivian; sister, Joyce, and her husband, George Sachs; brother, Eugene, and his wife, Janet; daughter, Linda, and her son, Austen Hinkley; son, Samuel, and his wife, Carla Shedivy, and their children, Natalia and Mitchell; son, Ian; Vivian’s daughter, Virginia Littlefield, and her husband and daughter, Jode and Clarissa Dieterle; Vivian’s son, Darrell Littlefield, and his wife, Sue; Vivian’s brother, Willard “Pete” Moore, sister, Cecile Settle, and their families; stepson, Cregg Reuter, and his wife, Christine; stepdaughter, Vicki Biondi, and her daughters, Maria and Sophia.

  • Mon, July 23, 2018 8:31 AM | Karen Gottlieb (Administrator)

    Elliot S. Vesell, MD

    Dr. Elliot Vesell was born in New York City on December 24, 1933 and passed away on July 23, 2018. He attended primary school at the Horace Mann School at Columbia University and went on to graduate high school from Philips Exeter Academy. He attended Harvard College where he majored in American Literature and History, and graduated both Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He then went to Harvard Medical School, graduating Magna Cum Laude as well.

    Dr. Vesell did his postdoctoral training at Rockefeller University in New York with several Nobel Prize winners and Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, the old Harvard hospital. He then met his late wife, Kristen Peery Vesell, while they were both working at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. They first visited Hershey in 1967 and moved here in 1968 where Dr. Elliot Vesell was the founding Chair of Pharmacology at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where he served as chair for 32 years. He served as Assistant Dean for Graduate Education for 22 years, and was recognized as an Emeritus and Evan Pugh Professor (the University’s highest honor).

    Dr. Vesell published more than 350 articles on pharmacogenomics and received many awards and honorary degrees including an honorary degree from both Penn State University and Marburg University in Germany. The genetic codes on the walls of the Penn State Institute for Personalized Medicine represent his genes. He is known as one of the godfathers of pharmacogenomics and devoted his life to the spirit of helping others. He is survived by two daughters, Liane Vesell of Boca Raton, Florida and Hilary Vesell of Hershey, PA

  • Sun, July 22, 2018 8:47 AM | Karen Gottlieb (Administrator)

    Edson X. Albuquerque, MD, PhD

    Dr. Albuquerque, who was Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, had been longtime Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at UMSOM. Most recently he served as Division Head, Translational Toxicology in the Department of Epidemiology & Public Health. He was known to those who worked with him as a preeminent scientist, colleague, friend, and someone who will be greatly missed in and outside the UMSOM. He is survived by his wife, Edna F. R. Pereira, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health at UMSOM, and his children, Felipe, Maria Luiza, and Eric. Throughout his distinguished academic career, Dr. Albuquerque studied the effects of different toxicants, including lead and organophosphorus compounds, nerve agents and insecticides, on neuronal functions in vitro and in vivo. He researched nicotinic and glutamatergic synapses in the central nervous system, which are known to be involved in cognition, learning, and memory, as well as several pathological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.

    Dr. Albuquerque’s research laid the groundwork for the development of a new class of drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease – the so-called “nicotinic allosteric potentiating ligands, of which galantamine is the prototype. Research in his laboratory has aided in the development of treatments for neuropathological conditions that afflict millions of people worldwide.

    Dr. Albuquerque had received international recognition for his electrophysiological research on neurotransmitter receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems, including the Order of the Grand Cross and the Rio Branco Award from Brazil, and in the United States, from the NIH the prestigious Jacob Javits Award Neuroscience Research Award and the Otto Krayer Award from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

    In 1974, Dr. Albuquerque accepted the post of Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at UMSOM. He established his laboratory for electrophysiological studies of synaptic transmission and developed the department, which grew from an anonymous department of cell biology to one that is internationally recognized for its excellence and bringing in a very high level of research funding. Prior to joining UMSOM, in 1968, Dr. Albuquerque was offered an Honor Position as a Buswell Fellow at the University of Buffalo. There he established his own laboratory, developed a number of fundamental studies in the field of neuromuscular transmission, and discovered the properties of many toxins which are used as tools for the characterization of the function of nicotinic receptors in the neuromuscular junction.

    Dr. Albuquerque was born in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. He earned his medical degree from the Federal University of Pernambuco School of Medicine in 1959, and earned his Ph.D. degree summa cum laude in Physiology and Pharmacology from “Escola Paulista de Medicina” in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1962. Postdoctoral studies followed at Tulane University, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, at the University of Illinois.

  • Fri, May 11, 2018 8:46 AM | Karen Gottlieb (Administrator)

    George M. Brenner, PhD

    Dr. George Marvin Brenner, 74, died on May 11, 2018 in Richmond, VA surrounded by loving family after an extended illness. He will be remembered for his devotion to family, steadiness and wisdom, and taking on life’s challenges with energy and hard work.

    George was born September 19, 1943, in Ottawa, KS. He grew up on the family farm near Princeton, KS where he was active in 4-H. He enrolled at the University of Kansas and received a B.S. degree in Pharmacy in 1966. George received the first Ph.D. degree awarded in Pharmacology and Toxicology at K.U. in 1971.

    George met Mary Ann Robinson while they were attending summer school at KU and doing research in the School of Pharmacy. They were married on August 21, 1966. In 1976, the Brenner family moved to Tulsa, OK where George was promoted to Professor at the Center for Health Sciences of Oklahoma State University. He served as Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology for fourteen years. During his tenure, George received numerous teaching awards, and authored a pharmacology textbook. The 5th edition, Brenner and Stevens’ Pharmacology, was published in 2018.

    George and Mary Ann returned to Lawrence, KS in 2005 and enjoyed twelve wonderful years there where they were active in several organizations. George was a member of the Lawrence Central Rotary Club. He was active in their community service Projects and served as club treasurer.

    In 2017, they moved to Richmond, VA to be closer to their daughter and grandsons. George and Mary Ann traveled frequently to see children and grandchildren, and enjoyed travel together to Mexico, Central America, and Europe.

    Enjoying and preserving the natural world was George’s life-long passion, and he was proud to support numerous environmental organizations. While in Tulsa, George served as Chair of the Green Country Sierra Club and was a leader in the Inner-city Outings program for disadvantaged youth. He backpacked in Colorado and the Grand Canyon, and visited numerous state and national parks across the United States. George also enjoyed performing and listening to music throughout his life. He played trumpet in the Princeton school band, University of Kansas band, and local bands in Tulsa and Lawrence.

    George is survived by his wife Mary Ann, daughter Sharon Brenner and grandsons Ciaran Jones and Braith Jones, of Richmond, VA, son John Brenner and his wife Dannielle and granddaughters Lexi and Sophia Brenner of San Antonio, TX, as well as his brother James Brenner of Los Angeles, CA, sister Brenda Grasmick of Helena, MT, and many extended family members.

  • Sun, November 12, 2017 8:27 AM | Karen Gottlieb (Administrator)
    Donald Coffey, a distinguished Johns Hopkins professor and prostate cancer expert and deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, died on Thursday. He was 85.

    Donald Coffey

    In his more than 50 years at Johns Hopkins, Coffey amassed a long list of accomplishments. Many of the accolades are as unconventional as the man. He chaired the Department of Pharmacology without ever taking a course in pharmacology. With no medical degree, he helped found the Cancer Center in 1973 with its first director, Albert Owens, and then ran it briefly in 1987.

    Coffey, who became one of Johns Hopkins' first triple professors, began his career washing glassware for graduate students. He worked at Westinghouse designing radar antennas during the day, and in the evening, he took classes and worked in the urology laboratory. In 1959, he was named the director of the Brady Urological Research Laboratory. After a year of running the lab, he was accepted into the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's graduate program in biochemistry.

    "Don touched so many of us in such profound ways that it is hard to imagine life without him," says Kenneth Pienta, director of research for the Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins and the Donald S. Coffey Professor of Urology. "We know how fortunate we have been to know him and experience his special and wonderful uniqueness. So we are only really without him in body, but not in soul."

    Read more at 
  • Mon, April 24, 2017 8:25 AM | Karen Gottlieb (Administrator)

    John Edward Maggio, Ph.D. passed away on Saturday, April 15th. He was the Flor van Maanen Professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and a long-time researcher on Alzheimer’s Disease. He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Boyce, and their children Alex, Claire, and Jeffrey.

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