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In Memoriam: Baruch Frenkel, DMD, Ph.D.

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Please share a memory of Dr. Baruch Frenkel here.

Baruch Frenkel passed away July 18, 2022 in Pasadena, CA.  He was born in Jerusalem, Israel in March 1958. He obtained his Doctorate of Dental Medicine and PhD in biomedical sciences from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After a few years of working as a dentist, he quickly realized that his passion was for research and in 1990, he moved to the USA to start a post-doc under the mentorship of Prof Gary Stein. In 1997, he started his independent career at the University of Southern California, where he obtained his full professorship 10 years ago.  

In addition to being an accomplished scientist, all will agree that he was an extraordinary mentor, as Baruch was not simply doing research; he was passionate about research. His great thirst for scientific knowledge was palpable every time he talked about it. While, his research interests were mostly focused on steroids and bone biology, he also demonstrated how mechanisms of action in bone cells were also relevant in breast and prostate cancer. Baruch’s contributions to science include the study of mechanisms of action of glucocorticosteroid-induced osteoporosis and Runx2-sex hormone receptors interactions in bone and cancer biology.

I fondly remember my time as Baruch’s trainee. During my post-doc, I clearly remember how he came to me to tell me about a paper he was just reading. He talked with shining eyes and said, “look at this beautiful work of molecular biology! Just finger-licking good” (a literal translation from Hebrew). One of his colleagues recently wrote that “his passion for science comes from his love of life, his love of his family.”  I and his other former students and post-docs continue to speak of how generous he was with his time and how much he helped us all professionally and personally. In speaking with his colleagues and collaborators, all mentioned how impressed they were with his wisdom in counsel to his students and above all, his selfless devotion to others.

Baruch had so many positive attributes: determination, perseverance, wisdom and a positive attitude are among the most commonly mentioned by those that knew him well.  His friends and family valued him for being caring and thoughtful and his stepdaughter words resonate well with who knew him. He was, as she describes him, “brave and loving”.  Above all, he listened to people: colleagues, students, family and friends.

Harold S. Kushner, a prominent American Rabbi and author said: “Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” That is Baruch.  That who he is and that is who he will always be for us.   Baruch will be missed by his mother Hana, his son Eviatar, his spouse Mary and her two children, Philip and Anita, his brother and sister, extended family, many friends, his trainees, his colleagues and his many collaborators.

May his soul be bound up in the bond of life.

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