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Read a Q&A with Paul Bertics from the spring 2011 issue of Quarterly
Madison, Wisconsin - The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health was stunned and profoundly saddened to lose faculty member Paul J. Bertics on Thursday, December 22, 2011. He died unexpectedly at his home in Madison.
The school community of faculty, staff and students widely regarded Bertics as a special person.
"His dedication and loyalty to his students, colleagues and school was legendary," said Robert N. Golden, dean of the school. "His smile and good humor immediately lit up any room he entered."
Bertics was a top-tier researcher based in the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, an educator who taught all levels of students and a long-time leader on the school's admissions committee.
A humble man, he often said he was honored to be able to participate in the selection of future generations of physicians. He was chair of the admissions committee when he died.
Bertics joined the UW faculty in 1986 and was the Kellett Professor of Biomolecular Chemistry at his death. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the UW Carbone Cancer Center, serving as leader of the Cancer Cell Biology Program, and co-director in the Material Sciences Research Center in the School of Engineering.
The Bertics research program focused on understanding the regulation of cell proliferation and function by growth factors, cytokines and bacterial toxins. The work had direct application to understanding the events that are involved in the development of cancer as well as the mechanisms associated with the immune response generated following bacterial infections. His work was supported most recently by five National Institutes of Health grants and a National Science Foundation grant.
The quality of his research earned Bertics the Inbusch Award for Meritorious Research, the Eli Lilly Biochemistry Award and the Kellett Award. Early in his career he was given the March of Dimes Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Research Award and a Shaw Scholar Award from the Milwaukee Foundation.
As an educator, Bertics taught extensively at the undergraduate, graduate and medical school levels. His teaching ability was widely praised. He was given the UW Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award and many School of Medicine and Public Health awards, including the student-selected Teaching Award, the Distinguished Teaching Award, the Dean's Teaching Award and the Medical Student Association Pacemaker Award For Teaching Excellence (twice).
Bertics served his school and university in many additional ways. He was chair of the UW Biological Sciences Divisional Executive Committee, the WARF Fellowship Committee, the UW Distinguished Teaching Awards Committee and the Medical School Research Committee, among many others.
A fund has been set up by the UW Foundation. Memorials can be sent to the UW Foundation at 1848 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53726. Please specify that you would like to contribute to the Paul J. Bertics Memorial Fund.
Gifts can also be made online. (Check the Honorary/Memorial Gifts box and indicate that your gift is in memory of Paul J. Bertics.)
We, Sandy and Vicky Bertics, would just like to extend our gratitude to all of those who joined us in celebrating the life of Paul Bertics, our husband and father, at the wonderful and moving memorial, as well as to all of those that could not be in attendance but were with us in spirit. We know that we are not alone in grieving the loss of such an extraordinary man. At times like these, it is hard to find the exact words to express our emotions, and so we leave you with the words of David Harkins (modified with Paul's name) in hopes that it will bring you strength:
"You can shed tears that Paul is gone,
or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that Paul will come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all he's left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see Paul,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember Paul only that he is gone,
or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what he'd want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on."
What will you remember about Paul Bertics? How did he make a difference in your life, whether as a mentor, educator or colleague? Share your story below.
Date Published: 03/02/2012