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Dr. Maria Spatz
January 3, 1925 ~ January 27, 2024 (age 99) 99 Years Old
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Dr. Maria Spatz Obituary
Dr. Maria Spatz, esteemed and highly respected medical Neuroscientist died at her home at the age of 99 on Jan 26. Dr. Spatz was born in 1925 in Poland and, having survived war-torn Warsaw during the second world war, she rose to eminence as a senior scientist at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Predeceased by her parents, Stanislav and Helen Poznanski and her sister, Lila, and loving husband of nearly 70 years, Marek Spatz, she is survived by countless friends and colleagues throughout the world.
Dr. Spatz graduated from Jagielonski University in Krakow, Poland and received her Medical Degree at Philips University in Marburg, Germany in 1951. After her graduation from medical school, she and her husband immigrated to the U.S. where she began her clinical residency in Jersey City, New Jersey. With an outstanding performance on state medical certification tests, Dr. Spatz was invited to further study at the prestigious University of Michigan where she became a faculty member in the Department of Pathology.
Her pioneering investigative work at the University of Michigan on the effect of gut disease on the neural brain system attracted the attention of the scientific community, and she was offered a position as a Principal Investigator in the NIH Department of Pathology. This position led to a prolific (and fruitful) career as one of the first leading women scientists at the NIH. Dr. Spatz was Section Chief in the Laboratory of Neuropathology and Neuroanatomical Sciences (1970-1990) and the Stroke Branch (1991-2005). She also served as Special Volunteer at the Stroke Branch (2005-2018) and Special Expert in the Neurotrauma Department at the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, MD (2003-Present).
Her extensive and prolific research focused on the regulation of the blood-brain barrier and alterations in cerebral blood flow associated with cerebral ischemia as well as traumatic brain injury. She was one of the first investigators to isolate and culture the cerebral microvascular endothelium cells and define properties linked to the function of the blood-brain barrier in ischemia. Her seminal work regarding the cerebral microvessels helped establish the NIH neuroscience initiative to study brain ischemia in the early 1970`s. A person of fierce intellect and strong opinions, she authored more than three hundred peer-reviewed manuscripts as well as book chapters.
Dr. Spatz was a brilliant scientist, but her accomplishments were also due to her warm and outgoing personality as well as her partner in life, Marek. Their hearts and home were always open to friends from all over the world, and at international meetings she was surrounded by dozens of former postdocs and collaborators from around the globe. They were wonderful hosts and enjoyed bringing everyone together at their many animated dinner parties. They were also strong supporters of the Arts and especially loved the opera. Perhaps, most of all Dr. Spatz enjoyed helping the young scientists and did everything she could to encourage their successes.
She will be greatly missed both personally and professionally by the many whose lives she touched.
There will be a gravesite ceremony at 10 AM Sunday, February 4th at the Parklawn Memorial Park, 12800 Viers Mill Rd, Rockville, MD. Visitors should arrive at the gate by 9:45 AM and a reception will follow at her home.