Michele M. Fluck

August 5, 1940May 10, 2018

Michele M. Fluck, age 77 of East Lansing, passed away on Thursday, May 10, 2018. She was born on August 5, 1940 in Switzerland, where she spent the first three decades of her life.

Michele completed her PhD in 1972 on bacteriophage genetics at the University of Geneva. She then moved to the United States to undertake postdoctoral research, initially at the Public Health Research Institute of the City of New York and subsequently at the Harvard Medical School. While in Boston, she was active in Science for the People, an organization of scientists, educators and activists committed to the application of science for the benefit of humanity.

Dr. Fluck was recruited to Michigan State University to join what is now the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics as an Associate Professor in 1979. An internationally recognized researcher in virology, she was named a University Distinguished Professor in 1990. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, and the Leukemia Society of America, her research focused on the polyoma virus, aiming to elucidate both its mechanism of replication and its role in causing cancer. She was an enthusiastic and dedicated instructor of virology for both graduate and undergraduate students. Michele was active not only as a faculty member with research and teaching responsibilities, but also as an advocate for women’s equality and rights. In addition to the formal guidance that she provided to undergraduate and graduate students in her own research program, she mentored many female students and junior faculty. She provided input on women’s issues on campus through her service on numerous Women’s Advisory Committees to Provosts and Deans.

Michele had many interests outside of her academic career, including jazz and classical music, orchids, and snow skiing. Accomplished on the harpsichord and piano, Michele hosted chamber music concerts at her home and performed in a number of local venues. She bequeathed her lovely instruments to the MSU College of Music. Gardening, her pet cats, entertaining, and books were additional avocations.

Michele was preceded in death by her sister, Liliane Fluck and parents, Henriette Alice Fluck (formerly Delaloye) and Wilhelm Rudolf Fluck. She is survived by a brother, Jean-Philibert Fluck of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a large number of friends, colleagues, and students, whose lives she impacted. Michele was a wonderful person, deeply caring and committed to her students and friends, generously supportive and always authentic.

Donations in Michele’s memory may be made to the Allen Creek Preschool (Ann Arbor), The Women’s Center of Greater Lansing, or the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics through the MSU College of Natural Sciences.

A formal remembrance ceremony will be held in September. Those interested in being updated about plans for the memorial service may register at the website.


No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Michele M. Fluck

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Tom Benjamin

May 13, 2018

Michele’s passing is a very sad note for all who knew and admired her. I first met Michele around 1970-71 as she was completing her doctoral work under Professor Richard Epstein at the University of Geneva. Her thesis research on bacteriophage genetics disclosed the remarkable finding that the efficiency of chain termination in protein synthesis was subject to influences of ‘context’, i.e., sequences flanking the termination codon itself. The papers she published on her thesis served for many years as milestones in the teaching of molecular genetics. She joined my lab at the Public Health Research of the City of New York in 1972 as a postdoctoral fellow to work on polyoma virus. She moved with me to Harvard Medical School in 1972 for several years before joining the Faculty at Michigan State . Her contributions to the field of DNA tumor viruses were profound and extended throughout her career. More than a valued professional colleague, Michele was to me a dear friend, a person of unmistakable warmth and generosity. She was also an accomplished keyboard musician. Michele will be sorely missed and never forgotten.