In Memory of Paul Sylvain Frenette

The ISEH community is deeply saddened by the recent loss of Dr. Paul Frenette, the founding director and chair of the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Paul was a revered member of the ISEH community, having previously served as President in 2015 in addition to other leadership positions. Our deepest condolences extend to his family, colleagues at Einstein, and collaborators around the world who are suffering from this loss. More details about Paul’s remarkable career and scientific accomplishments can be found in an obituary in Experimental Hematology (https://www.exphem.org/article/S0301-472X(21)00282-4/fulltext). To accompany that piece, in this Simply Blood blog please find some additional testimonies and pictures.




Dr. Meelad Dawlaty, Associate Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“Paul was always there for his trainees, staff and fellow faculty like a friend. As a faculty, I often went to him with questions and problems on grants, lab affairs, paper submissions and more. I could talk to him so openly like an older brother. He had nurtured this environment in the institute which was not just for performing high caliber science but also for building those strong bonds and friendships. That is why losing him so sudden has been so tough. It was a privilege and luxury to have a scientist of his brilliance and so kind and caring on my side. He was instrumental in getting my independent academic career started and help me grow as a scientist. He was sharp, brilliant, and practical, but more importantly a good-hearted and simply a good human being. I will deeply miss his kindness and sense of humor and our many banters over food. While we lost him too soon, his legacy in the institute and in the field is cemented forever.”


Dr. Simon Mendez-Ferrer, University of Cambridge

In 2006 I was finishing my first postdoc at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. I had the fortune that Gordon Keller introduced me to Paul Frenette, who had just published a landmark paper involving the sympathetic nervous system in the mobilization of HSCs induced by G-CSF. Paul liked my PhD in Neuroscience and first postdoc experience working with stem cells in the cardiovascular system. Altogether, these circumstances allowed me to join Paul’s lab, where I had the opportunity to focus in a new area merging my PhD and postdoc training – the neural regulation of stem cells. Those were extremely productive and hard-work days. I am grateful to Paul because he allowed me develop my ideas when I was in his lab and helped me transform these efforts into publications that shaped my scientific career. Paul was very smart, had great instinct for good scientific questions, a formidable ambition and was highly competitive. These four attributes explain his accomplishments and productivity and had a major impact on the independent careers of his former trainees.


Dr. Keisuke Ito, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

I have too many warm memories of Paul to include all of them here, but I will begin with one of the earliest: I first encountered Paul more than 15 years ago, when we hit it off at a hematology conference I attended just after earning my PhD. Little did I know then that several years later, after completing my postdoctoral training, I would become his colleague as one of the first PIs he recruited to the Einstein Stem Cell Institute. I still vividly remember that, after I signed the offer letter from Einstein, Paul took my wife and I to his favorite restaurant, “JoJo,” where he spoke passionately about the Institute’s future and how together we would expand the scope of stem cell research at Einstein. When I eventually arrived here, I found my office was situated directly across from Paul’s, and our common research interests, along with my new responsibilities as director of scientific resources of the Institute, gave me the opportunity to work closely with him for the next 10 years.

I must confess that this has been an amazing time, challenging yet deeply rewarding, and like all such times, I had no idea how quickly it would pass. And through it all I saw and chatted with Paul almost every day; on the way home, or in each other’s offices, or at departmental meetings, we shared exciting scientific exchanges and debated institutional issues, or planned our contributions to the international conferences we attended together. There is no question that Paul is a pioneering scientist and his contributions to the field have been exceptional. But it was his wonderful personality that won me over as a friend, and which makes it so hard to believe that I will never again be able to bask in his characteristic smile.


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