Thomas Peter Stossel
September 10, 1941 – September 29, 2019
Thomas Peter Stossel, 78, of Belmont, Massachusetts passed away unexpectedly on September 29.
Born in Chicago in 1941 to Otto and Anne (Tuchmann) Stossel, German Jews who immigrated in 1930, he grew up in Wilmette, Illinois. After graduating summa cum laude from Princeton in 1963 and cum laude from Harvard Medical School in 1967, he went on to a 50-year career as a physician and scientific researcher, focusing on blood and cancer. He served as chief of the hematology-oncology unit at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1976-1991, then moved to Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he was head of experimental medicine from 1991 to 1998, and co-director of the hematology and translational medicine units until 2014. He was also a professor of medicine for more than three decades, serving as the American Cancer Society Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School from 1987 until he retired from academia in 2017. Later in life, Stossel became involved in policy issues related to medical research, defending productive relationships between academic researchers, physicians, and the private sector.
Stossel was internationally known in the medical community for his research on the molecular mechanism of how cells move and change shape, and in particular for his discovery of two important cellular proteins, filamin and gelsolin. He held more than 50 patents and was the author or co-author of more than 300 scientific papers, as well the widely used medical-school textbooks Hematology: A Pathophysiological Approach (1984) and Blood: Principles and Practice of Hematology (1997). He served as a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, as a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and wrote for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the The Boston Globe, among others. In 2015, he published Pharmaphobia: How the Conflict of Interest Myth Undermines American Medical Innovation (2015). Stossel was a member of The National Academy of Sciences, The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine, and a past president of both the American Society of Hematology and the American Society of Clinical Investigation, as well as the former editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
At the time of his death, Stossel was editor in chief of Current Opinion in Hematology, and Chief Scientific Officer of BioAegis Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology company he co-founded. “Today my goal and my passion is to translate the exciting scientific discoveries into products that will save lives and extend quality of life for patients,” Stossel said a few weeks before his death. “Treatment of patients suffering from infectious, injurious and degenerative disease with plasma gelsolin treatment promises to deliver the meaningful result of my life’s work." Stossel’s brother, the prominent libertarian television personality John Stossel, wrote in his 2006 book, Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity that Tom was "the superstar of the family"--"While I partied and played poker, he studied hard, got top grades, and went to Harvard Medical School.”
With his wife Kerry Maguire, a public health dentist, and others, Stossel founded Options for Children in Zambia, a 501c(3) charity providing preventive dental and medical care in collaboration with local Zambian partners. He established a sickle cell disease clinical and research center in collaboration with physicians at University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. Most recently, he had been working on a point-of-care-diagnostic tool for sickle cell disease that could be used in low-resource areas. In 2012 his work in Zambia won him the Humanitarian Award from the Hippocrates Society of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Passionate about music, and in particular J.S. Bach, Stossel was an accomplished pianist and songwriter, composing pieces for parties and special occasions. He had a remarkable facility for languages, achieving varying degrees of fluency in German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Swedish, Nepali, Swahili, and Bemba, among others. He had a curious, wide-ranging intellect, encompassing science, classical literature, and history. A competitive sailor in his youth, he became an avid tennis player in adulthood. In his later years, he acquired a shellfish license for Wellfleet, MA, where he harvested oysters for his family and friends. He developed a late love for New Orleans, where he was a member of the Krewe of Orpheus and relished riding in the annual Mardi Gras parade. Stossel is survived by his wife, Kerry Maguire; his brother, John Stossel; his son, Scott Stossel; his daughters, Sage Stossel and Tamara Sakala; and three grandchildren. He is also survived by his first wife, Anne Hanford.
Services will be private.
- Options for Children in Zambia
Services will be private
Thomas Peter Stossel
November 16, 2019
I remember Tom well. As bright as anyone. Practical joker. Entering his Witherspoon Hall room was an adventure. I was greeted with a gallon of water dropped upon me upon opening his door. I was greeted with 100 beer cans yanked down by a fine fishing line from my ankles to the mantel of his fireplace.
At one winter point, the whole student body decided to lay siege to Witherspoon. A few of us convened to prepare our riposte.
We weathered the storm. Our opposition quit within minutes. We had blocked all entrances and prepared snow bombs and water hoses to release at planned intervals. Fun. And Tom was at the head of it all.
Kindly please have brother John contact me. 818-588-1817
October 16, 2019
How dearly I remember wading calf deep in the bay
Collecting those oysters, jewels of the sea.
Sun laughter and only one bruise while shuking
Travel well Tom
Helene & Marshall Stein
October 5, 2019
Marshall and I are so saddened by this news. Tom was always such a lively, adventurous, bold spirit. We send you our deepest condolences. Our thoughts are with you and all of the family. Tom’s passing is such a loss.
Helene & Marshall
October 4, 2019
Tom and I had an unlikely friendship. We met when I sent him an email after reading his book, Pharmaphobia. He immediately responded and we began a professional and personal friendship in which we tried together to improve the impact and image of pharma and also worked together to try and get Tom's protein commercialized. Along the way I benefited from his interest in me, his kindness, his wisdom and laughed at his comical insights on the world and the naysayers that sometimes threw down obstacles in his way. One of my great memories is of Rich Barno, Tom and I spending a wonderful day in San Diego walking the boat docks, discussing our dreams and sharing our challenges. Tom will be deeply and forever missed. I am a better person because I knew and learned from Tom Stossel.
October 1, 2019
I remember when Tom and Kerry first met. They fell madly in love, almost instantly. Kerry and I worked together at the time, and she would share things that she was learning about her new partner. One of which is how Tom loved to make "stew-shi". It was a pot of rice with raw fish tossed into it. He would eat it right from the pan. Ever the pragmatist, Tom was way ahead of today's 'bowl' craze. In reflection, Tom was always a bit ahead of his time. Such a brilliant, warm and unique thinker. I love you Tom and am honored to have known you while you were with us. Hugs to you now and always, Janice