Dominick DeLuca, October 27, 1946 – October 26, 2007
Dominick DeLuca, known to all as Dom, died of cancer on October 26th 2007. Dom was a member from 1995-2003 of the Editorial Advisory Board of Developmental and Comparative Immunology and made many significant contributions to both developmental and comparative immunology throughout his career, during which he published over 50 research articles and reviews.
Dom received his BA degree in 1969 from the University of California at Los Angeles. He received his PhD in 1974 from the same institution, having studied under the direction of Eli Sercarz. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and in 1977 he took a staff position at the Frederick Cancer Research Center of the National Cancer Institute. He was appointed to the faculty in the Biochemistry Department at the Medical University of South Carolina in 1980, and in 1990 to the faculty of the University of Arizona where he was Professor of Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine.
Dom was an early adopter of techniques for growing the fetal thymus in organ culture, an approach that allowed him to study both normal T cell development and the effects of a perturbed environment on this development. He made important contributions to our understanding of normal T cell development, but the greatest impact of his research may have come from studies of perturbed T cell function in three areas: Type 1 diabetes; microgravity (spaceflight); and smoking. The influence of type 1 diabetes on immune function was of particular interest to Dom, as he himself suffered from this disease. He showed that there were defects in T cell development in diabetes-prone animals, and he modified the fetal thymus organ culture system in order to study the immune reactions of human T cells against pancreatic tissue. He also used this system to study the role of matrix metalloproteinases in the pathogenesis of diabetes, and to explore potential therapeutic approaches to this disease.
Dom was very active in public outreach and policy development in the area of diabetes, serving on a task force to improve care for diabetic children, as a member of the Arizona Diabetes Control Council Public Policy Committee, and co-author of the Bill of Rights for Diabetics in the State of Arizona. Dom received many awards, but to be chosen as the recipient of the first Cure award, in 2005, from the American Diabetes Foundation was an honor that he particularly appreciated.
Dom always found time in his life for activities outside the laboratory. He was an active outdoorsman (particularly on horseback) and he enjoyed his motorcycle and sports car. He always had time for students, for family and for his many friends. He is survived by his wife Jan and by their daughter Larissa, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
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