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To the Johns Hopkins Medicine community
We are writing with great sadness and a profound sense of loss to report that Peter Maloney, professor of physiology and associate dean for graduate students at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, died of cancer on December 12 at his home in Baltimore. He was 72.
After earning his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences at Brown University in 1972 and completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard, Peter was recruited by neuroscience pioneer Vernon Mountcastle and joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1976. He was an internationally recognized expert on carrier proteins that transport molecules such as phosphate across cell membranes. In recent years, the kinds of scientific questions he focused on became especially relevant to understanding the origins of cystic fibrosis, a disease now attributed to an abnormal protein named CFTR whose biochemistry and molecular biology Peter and his lab helped elucidate.
Peter’s love of science was perhaps exceeded only by his love of Johns Hopkins and his understanding of our vital role in training the next generation of preeminent scientists. Revered by medical and graduate students alike, he was a gifted teacher who preferred blackboards and chalk to PowerPoint.
“He could explain the most complicated organ function by simply drawing out the details,” says Rajini Rao, a professor of physiology and longtime colleague. “In teaching transport, the first thing is to show a boundary, and Peter would start by drawing a perfect circle. After he had filled up one blackboard, he would slide down another one and keep going. He loved computers and his latest iPad, but he didn’t need a lot of technology to teach. He was very approachable.”
Yet it was far more than the clarity of Peter’s teaching that consistently garnered the highest evaluations from his students. “His dedication to them was in a class by itself,” says William Guggino, professor and director of the Department of Physiology. “He was a sweetheart of a man, very fair. He was universally loved, not only by his students but in every leadership position he held.”
During his 12-year tenure as associate dean for graduate students, Peter and his staff initiated programs that reach out to minority college students and encourage them to consider Johns Hopkins. He also shepherded hundreds of graduate students through some of the most challenging years of their lives, or as one former student put it, “he helped me through my mandatory graduate student breakdown.”
Always generous with his time, Peter listened to all who sought out his wisdom. “Students went to him; faculty went to him,” says Rao. “He was the guy everyone went to for really good advice.”
Dax Fu, an associate professor in the Department of Physiology, was beginning his postdoctoral studies here in 1995 when he first met Peter after a faculty meeting. “As a mentor,” says Fu, “he inspired a love of science, but he never pushed. He provided a supportive environment that gave you freedom to explore the field and all the little things in it. It wasn’t about him; it was about you.”
Please join us in extending heartfelt condolences to Peter’s wife, Gail Stetten, associate professor emerita and former director of the clinical cytogenetics laboratory in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and to their children, Beth and Alex. Peter is also survived by four grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to a fund established at Johns Hopkins in Peter’s name for the benefit of graduate student education at the school of medicine. Donations can be made to Johns Hopkins University, c/o Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, 855 N. Wolfe St., Suite 550, Baltimore, MD 21205, with a note indicating the donation is in memory of Dr. Peter Maloney.
Paul B. Rothman, M.D.
Dean of the Medical Faculty
CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Roy C. Ziegelstein, M.D.
Sarah Miller Coulson and Frank L. Coulson, Jr., Professor of Medicine
Mary Wallace Stanton Professor of Education
Vice Dean for Education, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
William B. Guggino, Ph.D.
Director of the Department of Physiology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine