Out of the blue this past week we lost Kevin McCormack of CIRM to a heart attack.
When I first heard, my reaction was that can’t be, but it is.
About Kevin McCormack
If you aren’t familiar with him, Kevin was officially Director of Patient Advocacy at our state’s Stem Cell Agency. However, he was much more than that, both for CIRM and many other people.
My sense was that Kevin functioned as the lead contact with the public and press. He did a fantastic job at that.
At the same time, Kevin impacted many people directly. He was just an amazing person in a small group or one-on-one with a unique and very funny sense of humor. That sense of humor made people at ease and communication just worked better around Kevin.
I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that I can’t call him up or email him to talk. The CIRM blog has a tribute to Kevin with many stories from those who knew him.
They included a picture of the two of us together, which I’ve pasted below as well.
I’ve also pasted a video of a recent talk by Kevin that was just great and includes some bits of humor too.
Just over a year ago, I lost another stem cell friend when scientist Meri Firpo passed away from metastatic breast cancer. As we all get older, it seems inevitable that more people we know are going to die, but it doesn’t get any easier.
I wasn’t going to do a weekly reads after a super busy week and Kevin’s death, but he’d probably say we have to continue with the work of stem cells.
Recommended stem cell reads
- An interesting backstory interview with the maker of the He Jiankui CRISPR baby story film, Make People Better. I broke the news recently that He Jiankui is mounting something of a comeback in science or trying. I’m hoping to watch the film this weekend if I have time. Apparently the movie portrays the scientists as something of a scapegoat.
- Retinoid X receptor promotes hematopoietic stem cell fitness and quiescence and preserves hematopoietic homeostasis, Blood. This is a thought-provoking paper. What struck me the most is the Myc connection. Why would Myc be unregulated in RXR-deficient HSCs? They also found that Myc heterozygosity prevented some of the changes due to loss of RXR. I was a bit surprised by this. I was part of previous work on c-Myc and N-Myc function in HSCs in mice, where we found they were important fo normal HSC function.