February 8, 2016


SUBJECT:    In Memoriam - Marion B. Sewer, PhD

It is with great sorrow that we announce the death of our colleague and friend, Marion B. Sewer, PhD, professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She died unexpectedly while traveling on January 28, at the age of 43. A celebration of life is scheduled for Monday, February 29, at 4 p.m. in the Health Sciences Education Center Auditorium in the lower level of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Building.

Dr. Sewer was internationally recognized for her research on lipid metabolism and the regulation of steroid hormones. Among her research accomplishments was defining the mechanism cells use to deliver substrates during the production of steroid hormones. She also determined how modifications to nuclear proteins regulate steroidogenic cytochrome P450, an enzyme that metabolizes cholesterol into steroid hormones. Her work on steroid hormone production has implications for multiple diseases, including cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome, Cushing's disease and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Her research was continuously supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation.

Dr. Sewer's contributions to students, postdoctoral fellows and young faculty were even more valued. She displayed a talent for teaching, training and mentoring, and delivered substantial service not only to UC San Diego, but to the scientific community as a whole. Her advice and advocacy will be sorely missed.

Dr. Sewer served on the Minority Affairs Committee, the Mentoring Committee for Women, the Publications Committee of the Endocrine Society, and acted as Deputy Chair for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Minority Affairs Committee. She was a member of the editorial boards of Steroids and Molecular Endocrinology. She was also a member of the Training and Workforce Development Study Section of the NIH and served on the NIH study section on Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. At UC San Diego, she was associate director of the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) program, which furthers the scientific and teaching careers of underrepresented minority postdoctoral fellows.

Dr. Sewer's many awards and recognitions include an Undergraduate Minority Access to Research Careers Scholarship (1991-1993), Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellowship (1993-1998), UNCF/Merck Postdoctoral Fellowship (1998-2000), American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Travel Award (2000), Emory University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Award (2013), Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scientist Award (2002), and NSF Career Development Award (2004).

Dr. Sewer was a member of, or served on the board for, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Endocrine Society, Women in Endocrinology, Society for the Study of Cytochrome P450s and the American Society for Cell Biology.

Dr. Sewer was born on October 28, 1972 in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. She received her BS in Biochemistry from Spelman College and her PhD in Pharmacology from Emory University. She conducted postdoctoral research in biochemistry at Vanderbilt University Medical Center before serving on the faculty at Georgia Institute of Technology. She joined the Skaggs School of Pharmacy at UC San Diego in 2009, where she aimed to strengthen and expand her research program.

Dr. Sewer is survived by her mother, Madeline Harris Sewer, and her sister, Gwen Sewer.

James McKerrow
Dean, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and
Pharmaceutical Sciences/
Associate Vice Chancellor for
Health Sciences