Arno Motulsky, a founder of both medical genetics and pharmacogenomics, has died, the New York Times reports. He was 94.
After fleeing Europe twice just before and then during World War II, first on the St. Louis, an ocean liner of Jewish refugees that was denied entry into Cuba and the United States, and then after internment in France, Motulsky came to the US and started medical school, the Times writes. It adds that he took a genetics course during his training and he said he was "hooked forever."
Motulsky studied internal medicine and hematology, including inherited blood disorders, the Times reports. It notes that his scope expanded to include the effect of genetics on a range of diseases, including heart disease, colorblindness, and hypertension, as well as genetic disorders prevalent in certain populations. He started the medical genetics division at the University of Washington, it adds.
"It was his vision to study how heredity could be involved in practically everything," Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, tells the Times. "The relationship between heredity and the response to drug therapy — nobody was thinking about that until he started, 60 years ago. He anticipated it decades before science made it possible to get the answers that he dreamed of."
The Times adds Motulsky was also a highly regarded mentor and his students included Joseph Goldstein, who went on to share the 1985 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for his work on statins. "He gave me the confidence to design this big study, with his help, and gave me the resources," Goldstein, now at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, says.