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In Memoriam: Michaela Pekarová (1982-2019)

It is with deep regret and profound sorrow that we announce the passing away of our esteemed Mye-EUNITER colleague and friend, Michaela Pekarová, on 14 March 2019. Michaela, who died aged 36 after a long and courageous struggle against cancer, was a young upcoming biomedical scientist at the Department of Cell Biology and Radiobiology, Institute of Biophysics, Czech Academy of Sciences in Brno, Czech Republic, whose research interests included a focus on nitro-fatty acids, chronic diseases, and myeloid cells.

Michaela was born in Ilava in Slovak Republic. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in General Biology at Masaryk University in Brno in 2005, going on to do her Master of Science in 2007 and then her PhD in 2010 under the guidance of Antonin Lojek in Animal Physiology at the same university. Her PhD thesis was on the role of arginine and its metabolism in the physiology of macrophages.

As from 2010 until her untimely death Michaela was a dedicated and passionate research scientist at the Institute of Biophysics, Czech Academy of Sciences in Brno. Her specific areas of expertise included innate immunity and cellular signalling, nitric oxide production and signalling, electrochemical detection of nitric oxide, physiology of monocytes/macrophages, physiology of endothelial cells, nitric oxide synthases, amino acids and nitro-fatty acids. She was a significant contributor to the paper on the role of myeloid regulatory cells (MRCs) in maintaining tissue homeostasis and promoting tolerance in autoimmunity, inflammatory disease and transplantation, part of our Action’s recently published symposium-in-writing.

Nationally, Michaela Pekarová was a well-funded early career investigator. Furthermore, between 2009 and 2014, Michaela participated in a number of scientific exchanges at Eppendorf University in Hamburg and the University Hospital of Cologne, both in Germany, as well as at the Institute of Experimental Pharmacology and Toxicology SAS, Bratislava, Slovakia, and the University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.

During her career the high quality of Michaela’s work was regularly acknowledged by notable achievements. She was the recipient of the Young Investigator Award at the III. European Workshop on the Analysis of Phagocyte Functions in 2008, was granted the Emmanuelle Caron Poster Award at the 45th Annual Scientific Meeting of the European Society for Clinical Investigation in 2011, received the Institute of Biophysics prize for young scientists for excellent results in 2012 and was awarded the Otto Wichterle Prize for scientists of excellence within the Czech Republic in 2014.

Aside from the COST Action Mye-EUNITER, Michaela was also a member of the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine, the European Society for Clinical Investigation, and the European Macrophage and Dendritic Cell Society.

Michaela came into our lives with the launch of our COST Action BM1404 Mye-EUNITER at the first Management Committee Meeting at the COST Association’s headquarters in Brussels in November 2014. Keenly inspired by and committed to our Action’s goal of establishing a pan-European platform for myeloid regulatory cell research right from the very beginning, Michaela and her colleagues also hosted the highly successful 4th Mye-EUNITER MC/WG Meeting and the European Workshop for Young Myeloid Cell Researchers in Brno, 01 – 03 March 2017. Always thinking a step ahead, of all the concepts put forward as a possible sequel to this COST Action, Michaela’s proposal was by far the soundest and received the most support from within the network. We will continue our best endeavours to build upon the scientific basis she has left us which, alas, has since become her legacy.

We will always remember Michaela as a strong and determined young woman of formidable vision. May her defiant spirit live on in all our efforts. It has been our honour to have been granted the privilege of getting to know and work with her.

We extend our sincere condolences to her family. Michaela is survived by her devoted husband, Martin.

Farewell, dear Michaela. You left us way too soon. May you rest in peace.

A laska zustala - ta smrti nezna.

Obituary Notice