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TrialNet pays tribute to Dr. Mark Pescovitz
The following article is excerpted and adapted from remarks made by Gregory Germino, M.D., deputy director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, at the Mark Pescovitz Memorial Lecture held in Reston, Virginia, on March 9, 2011.
The world lost a dedicated physician, researcher, transplant surgeon, accomplished artist, humanitarian, and friend last December when Mark Pescovitz, M.D., was killed in a tragic automobile accident. Dr. Pescovitz was a TrialNet principal investigator at Indiana University, where he was the professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Surgery, professor of microbiology and immunology, and director of the Transplant Immunology Laboratory.
Dr. Pescovitz started his research career as a fellow in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) laboratory of David Sachs, M.D. During his 4-year tenure at NIH, he performed important research in the area of T cell-mediated regulation within the transplant field and then went on to characterize and describe a series of monoclonal antibodies. After completing his surgical residency, he joined the Department of Surgery at Indiana University, where he spent the rest of his prolific career. During that time, he published 180 articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as numerous book chapters and other pieces.
Dr. Pescovitz became involved with TrialNet at its inception in 2001, when Indiana University was selected to become a TrialNet Clinical Center. His distinctive training and experience, as both an immunologist and practicing transplant surgeon, proved to be tremendously enriching to TrialNet. Of the myriad of contributions he made to TrialNet, perhaps the most meaningful is the rituximab study, one of TrialNet's most exciting studies to date.
This trial evaluated the effect of rituximab on type 1 diabetes progression in individuals newly diagnosed with the disease. The approach was novel because it targeted B cells rather than T cells. Until recently, it was thought that type 1 diabetes was purely a T cell-mediated disease.
The rituximab study is representative of the tremendous amount of outstanding work that Dr. Pescovitz did during the course of his illustrious career. His contributions will always be remembered. He gave endlessly to the field of research; to society; and to his family, friends and colleagues. He was a humble, kind, generous and gentle human being and a role model to us all. He will truly be missed.