Friends, family and colleagues of Georgielle Gerzanich gathered in Westminster Hall December 7 to celebrate her life. Gerzanich, who was Director of Research Program Development at the School of Medicine, passed away December 5 at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center of injuries sustained in a November 26 car accident. She was 38.
"Georgi was a driving force in the development of several large-scale projects in biodefense research at the University of Maryland," says Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, vice dean for research and academic affairs and a professor of surgery. "She had excellent skills in organizing diverse investigators into a cohesive group, which resulted in high-quality projects that competed successfully for large NIH grants. Her skills were unique in the School of Medicine and will be difficult to replace."
Born Lorie Lee Criswell in Coatesville, PA, east of Lancaster, she later changed her first name to a modified version her grandfather's name. After earning a BS in biology from West Chester University in 1991, Gerzanich accepted a position at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Neuroscience, where she researched receptor function, structure and involvement in myasthenia gravis, nicotine addiction and other pathological conditions. It was here that she met her husband, Vladmir Gerzanich, MD, PhD, now an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the School of Medicine.
Georgi joined the University of Maryland School of Medicine six years ago as a research analyst in the Obesity and Diabetes Research Center and was co-author on numerous academic publications related to diabetes. She was promoted to her current position as a director in 2005.
Funeral services were held December 8 in Pennsylvania. In addition to her husband of 10 years, Gerzanich is survived by her parents, a brother, three sisters and numerous nieces and nephews. Her family has requested that memorial donations in her name be sent to The Christopher Reeve Foundation, 636 Morris Turnpike, Suite 3A, Short Hills, NJ 07078 or www.christopherreeve.org.