The CCR community mourns the recent passing of our colleague W. Michael Kuehl, M.D., former Senior Investigator in the Genetics Branch, after a long struggle with renal cancer.
In his more than 30 years at NCI, Michael was devoted to understanding the cellular and molecular biology of multiple myeloma (MM) and pre-malignant MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain significance), a precursor of the disease. He identified multiple mechanisms of molecular pathogenesis in MM and he linked pre-malignant MGUS to MM, which is relevant for the early diagnosis and treatment of MM.
Michael completed his bachelor’s degree and medical school at Harvard University in 1965 and did postdoctoral training at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. He then started his independent research program and became an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Virginia Medical School before being promoted to full professor.
In 1982, Michael returned to the NIH as a Senior Investigator in the NCI Navy Medical Oncology Branch. He later joined the Genetics Department of the NCI Medicine Branch which became the current CCR Genetics Branch. He served as Deputy Chief of the branch from 2001-2006. He received the prestigious Waldenstrom Award from the International Myeloma Workshop in 2011 for his work in the myeloma field. Michael retired in 2015, although he continued to actively participate in laboratory meetings and serve as an advisor to many in the Genetics Branch for several more years.
Throughout his career, Michael was an enthusiastic and curious scientist. He published over 140 papers and freely shared his intellectual insight and resources with his colleagues around the world. Michael’s colleagues remember his open-mindedness and how he enjoyed engaging in discussions with coworkers and trainees of all levels about their work, career aspirations, and just about any other topic. He was also appreciated by many as an excellent collaborator and knowledgeable mentor.
Outside of the lab, Michael was an adventurous athlete, playing squash and taking cross-country bike rides with his family and colleagues. His constant motto, “Don’t postpone joy,” made him a well-loved and kind person whom people loved to be around. Many remarked on his jovial personality and how he had an immensely positive impact on their daily lives and careers.
Michael will be missed by many for his science and as a colleague, mentor and friend.