It is with great sadness that I received the news of the passing of Dr. Eugenia Sacerdote de Lustig, a renowned researcher at the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) in Argentina and head of the Carlos G Malbrán National Institute of Virology.
Dr. Sacerdote de Lustig, who was 101 when she died on Nov. 27, dedicated her life to the study of living cells, and her research made key contributions to the control of poliomyelitis.
On behalf of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and for myself, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to her family, friends and colleagues.
Born in Italy in 1910, Dr. Sacerdote de Lustig was one of the first women to become a doctor in her country. In 1939, she fled to Argentina to escape fascism. At the University of Buenos Aires, she worked diligently and passionately in the area of in-vitro cell culture, facilitating research on a wide range of viruses and tumors.
In 1954, as head of virology at the Malbrán Institute, she was asked by the Ministry of Public Health to study poliovirus, which put her at constant risk of contagion. Thanks to a WHO fellowship, she was able to visit a number of centers in the United States and Canada to study the preparation of the Salk and Sabin vaccines.
She joined CONICET in 1960 and continued there as a researcher until 2000. She also taught, for example, as a biology professor in the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences, where she developed dozens of followers.
In her capacity as president of the Albert Einstein Institute for Medical Research and director of research at the Angel Roffo Institute, Dr. Sacerdote de Lustig authored or co-authored more than 180 scientific publications.
Among her many awards and honors were Illustrious Citizen of the City of Buenos Aires and the Bicentennial Medal, presented by the Argentine Senate. At 95, she published an autobiography, From the Alps to Rio de la Plata.
Far beyond the age when most researchers retire, she continued investigating Alzheimer’s disease, genetics, and experimental oncology. She was truly a model investigator whose work and commitment will long be admired by those of us who knew her and her work.