In memoriam: Estela Medrano

Estela Medrano at IPCC 2005 in Reston (VI, USA). Picture by Lynn Lamoreux
Estela Medrano at IPCC 2005 in Reston (VI, USA). Picture by Lynn Lamoreux

It is with great sadness that we have to inform our members about the recent loss of our colleague Estela Medrano. She was killed in a car accident in Houston (TX, USA), on August 30, 2010, when she was returning from a meeting in Europe. Her husband was also injured in the same accident.

Estela Medrano was a very nice person, an excellent scientist and an expert in the regulation of aging and cancer of human melanocytes. She was professor in the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor College of Medicine. She was a member of PASPCR, IFPCS and SMR, where she had been recently elected to serve as Secretary/Treasurer. We will all miss her.

As a tribute in her memory, we have created this post at the IFPCS blog where we will be publishing all comments received from people wishing to remember Estela Medrano. Please add a comment or send your message to and it will be attached to this post. Thanks.


I am overwhelmed by sadness at the news of Estela’s untimely passing. She was a warm and elegant colleague who adhered to the highest professional standards. An irreplaceable loss to her family and her colleagues.

Seth Orlow


Professor Estela Medrano at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, died prematurely in a tragic car accident on Monday August 30th, 2010. It is a real loss for the community and for all her friends, which were numerous in our field. Our heart felt sorrows go out to her husband and family, but no verbal or written condolences can possibly do justice to the depth and sincerity of our feelings of sympathy.
All the best

Lionel Larue, Institut Curie, Orsay, France
President of ESPCR


The tragic death of Dr. Estela Medrano leaves us with a great void. She continues to be quite an inspiration to me and countless others, as a renowned woman-scientist who worked on melanocyte biology but also as a friendly and always collegial person. I arrived in Cincinnati just as she left for Texas in ‘95. Estela left quite a legacy there and as part of our Pigment Cell community. My thoughts are with the family.

Caroline Le Poole, Loyola Univ. Chicago, USA
IFPCS Treasurer


It’s a very sad new I learnt from your mail about Pr Medrano. I didn’t know her personally, but saw her in meetings and read some of her papers during my career when I focused on pigment cells. I felt she was a very perceptive person, contributing to interesting news fields in pigment cell research. I would like to express here my condolences.

Patrick Verrando
Faculté de Médecine, Univ. de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France


A great shock! A wonderful person and an outstanding scientist. Much too young to die.

Helene Hill, PhD
New Jersey Medical School, USA


I am so sad that I lost my respectful mentor Estela Medrano. I never realized how I missed her until yesterday. I have been working in her lab for 7 years. She’s always strict but patient with me, teaches me how to solve technical problems in the research. It’s good thing to work with her, such a nice excellent scientist! When I passed by her office, I had the feeling she was still working there. But now she’s gone. May her rest in heaven forever.

Qiushi Lin
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA


Thanks to Luis and the IFPCS leadership for letting us know about this tragedy. I share the sentiments expressed by many regarding Estela’s warmth, leadership, and passion for science. While this is a sad reminder that life is ephemeral, I will think of Estela, her family, and her colleagues often and with great respect, and appreciate the opportunity to express my feelings to this forum.

Greg Barsh
Huntsville, AL, USA


I am deeply saddened by this tragic news. She had a contagious enthusiasm and excitement about melanocyte biology. It is big loss to melanocyte biology, but certainly a bigger and unimaginable loss to her family. I am thankful to this opportunity to convey my heartfelt condolences to them.

Vijay Setaluri, Madison, WI, USA


Our scientific community has known Estela Medrano as a scholar and a very creative scientist who contributed tremendously to the fields of pigment cell biology and melanoma. Some, including myself, had the privilege of knowing her not only as a colleague, but also as a friend. I first met Estela when she joined our Department of Dermatology at the University of Cincinnati in the late 1980’s. This is when and where her interest in pigment cell research blossomed. We shared many experiences, being foreigners in the U.S.A., and trying to juggle family obligations and a career in the absence of extended family support. Estela soared as a scientist, and more so as a person, a friend and a gentle spirit who was liked by everyone who knew her. She was taken away from us and her family at the zenith of her career and her life. She will be terribly missed. My heart goes to her four sons, Alex, Federico, Mariano, and Fernando, and to her husband Jorge whom I wish full recovery from his injuries.

Zalfa Abdel-Malek
Univ. Cincinnati, OH, USA
Past IFPCS President, member of IFPCS council


As all the members of the scientific community of ESPCR I was very attristed by this information. Please, accept my deepest sympathy for this sad event.

Robert Aquaron
Faculté de Médecine, Univ. de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France


I was shocked at the tragedy of Professor Estela Medrano. I am holding a moment of silence for Estela from Sendai.

Shigeki Shibahara
Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
President, IFPCS


This is an awful shock, especially for Estela’s family but also for so many of us who knew her as an excellent melanocyte/melanoma scientist and kind, unselfish colleague. She was also the chair of the IFPCS Women Scientists committee and was active in promoting the interests of female and minority scientists. A very sad and sudden loss for our community.

Dot Bennett
St. George’s, University of London, UK


Estella was a gentle and kind person who went out of her way to help other researchers. She also had a great sense of humor–I will never forget the time we spent together at the meeting in Nagoya. This is a really sad and tragic loss.

Glynis Scott, M.D.


On August 30th Dr. Estela Medrano died in a terrible car accident just before reaching home in Houston when she was coming back with her husband from a trip to Europe.
Estela’s achievements were remarkable but were always produced in an unpretentious, far from ambitious, way. She was a devoted mother of 4 sons and a devoted scientist.
I met Estela in 1984, when I had just graduated from college, at a conference on Oncogenes held in Buenos Aires. Among a bunch of prominent international scientists was Estela, discreetly showing her recent scientific contributions. I began admiring her at that very moment. Later on, when seeking for an advisor within the modest scientific environment in Argentina, our common country of birth, I badly wanted my advisor to be Estela. I keep in my best memories the moment when, to my surprise, after knocking without an appointment at her lab door in one of the few renowned research institutes in Argentina, I received the first of her “how interesting” after listening to some of my poor ideas for a future PhD project. Afterwards, I got to do science under her supervision. What a pleasure. With time we became more friends than scientific collaborators. She moved back to the States, first to Cincinatti, then to Houston. At a distance and the few times I visited her we discussed science with delight. There was always a shared moment for fascination. Estela loved and enjoyed science all the time. I asked for Estela´s opinion on every single project I was involved in and was relieved by her approval in the form of “how interesting !!!”
Estela’s absence as a scientist and lovely person will be very very hard to overcome.

Fernando Larcher
CIEMAT, Madrid, Spain


Dr. Estela Medrano were not only my mentor but my friend. I will missed her so much. I can’t believe we were together next week and now I can’t see her anymore. This is a terrible loss. I will always remember her as the nice and friendly person she was. She always gave me her help and support. My prays are with her family, George and her four sons.

Indhira De La Rosa
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA


Like everyone else, I was shocked to hear of our loss. Estela was not only a first rate scientist, she was a helpful and sharing collaborator and a thoughtful friend.

Lynn Lamoreux
Bryan, TX, USA


I was shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic news. Estela was the consummate role model. Not only was she was an outstanding scientist, but also a warm and caring person. She always took the time to catch-up with me at meetings and to offer advice when needed. Her passing is a great loss to our community. I offer my sincere condolences to her family and wish Jorge a full and speedy recovery.

Prashiela Manga
New York University School of Medicine, NY, USA


So sad. I met Dr Morano for the first time in Switzerland where we were attending the same meeting. I had the chance to see her several times when she was walking outside with her husband or visiting the nice small town during the breaks. They were in a room just near ours and we walked down the stairs together some times. Although I did not know her personnally, I found her very pleasant, simple and always smiling. I will remember her nice face smiling when she said “thank you” as I was holding the door for her. Life is sometimes very hard and I think about her husband and her children who are certainly in chock right now.
Please tell her family, colleagues and friends that we are extremely sad by her passing.

Annick and Bernard Perbal


I was shocked and overwhelmingly saddened to hear of Estela’s tragic death. We have been friends and colleagues since meeting as faculty members at the University of Cincinnati. From the very beginning I was struck by her excitement for science, her passion for understanding the malignant progression of melanoma and her openness in sharing both. She introduced me to her work on melanoma and I introduced her to the SKI oncogene and together we planned the first of what would become many collaborative efforts that combined our individual passions. Through the years, although we hadn’t met in person, we talked often by phone; sharing our triumphs and failures with joy or sympathy. We had wonderful exchanges of experimental findings and plans that stimulated our science and enhanced our mutual respect and admiration. I will sorely miss hearing her enthusiastic descriptions of her lab’s latest discovery and the warmth with which we shared it. We also commiserated with each-others publishing and funding difficulties so it seems horribly unfair that she should have been taken away just as her star was rising.
I know that my loss doesn’t compare to that of Jorge and her four sons to whom I extend my hope for a complete recovery and my deepest sympathy.

Ed Stavnezer
Case Western State University, Cleveland, OH, USA


My wife and I are shocked and deeply saddened with this tragic loss with Medrano’s family, aging and melanocyte and melanoma research. Our thoughts and prays are with Jorge and their sons. It is extremely unfair for such horrible accident happened to this thoughtful, kind and role model scientist. As a former member of staff in Medrano’s lab, words cannot even begin to express our sorrow. We sincerely offer our deepest condolences and wish Jorge a quick recovery.

Weidong Xu and Jun Sun


picture by Lynn Lamoreux
picture by Lynn Lamoreux

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