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In-Memoriam: Adele Boskey, Ph.D.

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It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of long-time member Adele Boskey, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS).


Dr. Boskey was a pioneer in the bone mineralization field. Among her many discoveries and contributions to the field, Dr. Boskey was a pioneer in characterizing bone mineral changes in skeletal diseases such as osteoporosis and rickets. She was the 2015 recipient of the ASBMR Lawrence G. Raisz Esteemed Award for outstanding achievements in preclinical translational research in the bone and mineral field. Her recent work suggests that measuring bone quality, rather than bone density, promises greater accuracy and could predict what characteristics of bone put patients at risk of fracture.


A lifelong volunteer and mentor, Dr. Boskey served many years on various committees and boards in ASBMR, ORS, IADR, NOF, AAOS, and OIF. A recognized mentor of countless grad students, postdocs, and early career scientists, Dr. Boskey was known for generously giving her time and expertise to all who asked.


In celebration of the life of Dr. Adele Boskey, please join colleagues at Hospital for Special Surgery for a memorial service honoring her on Wednesday May 17 at 6 -8 PM. The celebration will be held in the Richard L. Menschel Education Center located at Hospital for Special Surgery, 535 East 70th Street, 2nd Floor.


You can also join us in recognizing Dr. Boskey’s contribution to our field by leaving a note below, sharing a memory, or contributing a donation in her honor.

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Adele Boskey was a thoughtful scientist who meticulously carried out his research and mentored many colleagues. She leaves a legacy of seminal scientific contributions that will always be acknowledged as the field moves forward. I thank you Adele for our numerous discussions about bone quality. I am thinking of her family and I send them my deepest sympathy. Thank you for all Adele

Georges BOIVIN (Lyon, France)

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Guest Joan McGowan

I think everyone will comment on Adele's mentoring and I must add that your NIH scientists are among those she generously educated - not just by serving on review groups and panels but personally helping us help you. I met Adele and Barbara Boyan at my first Gordon Conference and they took me under their wings and introduced me to both the leading and emerging scientists and especially, showed me the fun they had being scientists. Adele started the Orthopaedic Research Society's Women's Leadership Forum and in that arena there was an amazing growth in the participation of women in all levels of leadership over the last decade - all to the good of the society!


Condolences to Jay and Beth and all of us. We will miss her gentle wisdom.

Joan McGowan

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  • 4 months later...
Guest Lance D. Silverman, Ph.D.

I met Adele forty-five years ago, just after I got out of college when I started work as a research lab technician at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Adele was one of three Ph.D. scientists working for Dr. Aaron Posner, studying biomineralization. I was twenty-two years old and Adele was twenty-nine. I worked full time at HSS for two years, and then one day a week for the next five years while I earned my Ph.D. in chemistry.


Adele was very much a hands-on researcher, almost always in her lab, working over racks of test-tubes on her early kinetic studies of mineral formation. Only rarely would I see her at her desk, which was always cluttered with papers, books, and journals. Adele had a sign over her desk that read, “A clean desk is a sign of a sick mind.” She worked alongside of a technician or summer student. Even then she’d earned a reputation as a mentor for her younger employees, getting their names on publications and helping them move on to medical or graduate school.


One time Adele invited everyone from the research group for a barbecue pool party at her home in New Jersey. Her law-professor husband Jim grilled the hamburgers and I met two year old daughter Beth.


Fast forward: I’d lost touch for some years but contacted Adele again in early 2001 when I’d gone on a quest to reestablish contact with people from my past who had influenced me. She was then the Director of Research at HSS, but had gone through a difficult time when she’d lost Jim to cancer two years earlier and both of her parents within a year.


We reestablished our friendship, and later on I was privileged to meet and become friends with her partner Dr. Jay Gerstein. Jay is a very accomplished and admirable man; and one of his most admirable traits to my mind is his devotion to Adele.


I hadn’t foreseen it at the time, but soon after renewing my friendship with Adele I changed careers from industrial research into academics, taking a guest faculty position at Sarah Lawrence College. Adele suggested that we do collaborative research together. She invited me to coauthor a review paper and took one of my Sarah Lawrence students for summer research.


So, in addition to reestablishing our friendship, Adele became my mentor as I started orthopedic-related research while teaching college. I had several students who did research in her lab, and she collaborated on a small corporate grant that I’d gotten with the help of Dr. Joe Lane. We published several papers together and attended scientific meetings where Adele introduced me to prominent people in the field. Typical of an exchange with Adele, I’d say, “I have an idea for an experiment we could try,” and she’d say, “You should read the paper on that which so-and-so wrote in 1985.”


Among the many science books in Adele’s office are several books on mentoring younger scientists. This was an important part of Adele’s work, not just with me, but with many others, and she participated in an NIH mentoring program. Adele leaves a double legacy professionally. There are her many important contributions to medical science, but there are also the many professional scientists and doctors who she guided in research and their careers. I have admired and respected Adele for many years and will always be grateful to have had her as a friend and colleague.


Lance D. Silverman, Ph.D.

Bard High School Early College – Newark, NJ

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  • 3 months later...
Guest Elizabeth Cowen

I didn't know Adele from the context of being a fellow scientist, but rather from an earlier point in her life.

She was a graduate student at BU pursuing a doctorate in Chemistry.

I was an undergraduate, rather messy and disorganised myself, and she took me in and helped to provide some much needed stability . So I guess that even then her mentoring career was well underway.

Her dedication to her studies was extremely focused and she had to overcome many obstacles in pursuit of her career.

She persevered however- even when a computer program glitch at the MIT computer spit out her cards (at that time computers were pretty primitive) and she lost several months of research.

The most important thing about Adele was the fact that she was a genuinely kind person.

Unfortunately we lost track of each other for many years, and I did not have her married name. Only today, when I did a computer search did I finally find her - sadly too late.

May she be remembered for a blessing.


Elizabeth Cowen, MSW

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