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Beloved Master of the Blackboard

Maloney was free with his time—and wise counsel.

The latest iPads and computers enthralled Peter Maloney, professor of physiology and associate dean for graduate students, but when it came to teaching, he preferred blackboards and chalk to PowerPoint.

“He could explain the most complicated organ function by simply drawing out the details,” recalls physiologist Rajini Rao, a longtime colleague. Maloney would deftly fill up one blackboard and then hop to a clean one as he continued scribbling away on how carrier proteins transport molecules across cell membranes. “He didn’t need a lot of technology to teach.”

Maloney, revered by medical and graduate students alike, died of cancer on December 12, 2013, at his home in Baltimore. He was 72.

After earning a biomedical sciences PhD at Brown in 1972 and completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard, Maloney was recruited to Hopkins by neuroscience pioneer Vernon Mountcastle ’42, in 1976. He became an internationally recognized expert on carrier proteins. In recent years, Maloney’s research helped clarify the origins of cystic fibrosis, a disease whose biochemistry and molecular biology he and his lab did much to elucidate.

Rao noted that Maloney eagerly assisted whoever sought his counsel. “Students went to him; faculty went to him. He was the guy everyone went to for really good advice.”

Beloved Master of the Blackboard