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In memoriam: Serge Bencosme

In memoriam: Serge Bencosme

[In Memoriam]

[photo of Dr. Serge Bencosme]

Sergio A. Bencosme, M.D., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus (Pathology), died May 1 in Santiago, Dominican Republic, as a consequence of a double pneumonia. He was predeceased by his dear wife, Bertha (1980) and two of his children, Rosanna and Humberto. He is survived by three children, Violetta Martinez, Artsci'78, Yolanda, Rolando, and also by11 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

Dr. Bencosme was born in Montecristi, Dominican Republic on April 27, 1920. He moved to Canada in 1944, where he obtained his medical degree from Université de Montreal in 1947. Later, at McGill University, he received a master’s degree in 1948 and his PhD in 1950. Subsequently, Dr. Bencosme worked in various universities (University of Ottawa, Queen’s, UCLA) before returning to Queen’s as a tenured professor of pathology, 1965-1977.

At Queen’s, he distinguished himself as a researcher and experimental pathologist using the cutting edge tools of that time, such as electron microscopy, histochemistry, immunochemistry and radioimmunoassay. During this time, he and his collaborators produced seminal work in the fields of pancreatic islets, kidney, gastrointestinal endocrine cells, and atrial natriuretic factor pathobiology and pathology. This extensive body of work found outlet in more than 160 publications, mostly in prestigious peer-reviewed journals and resulted in the PhD theses of his graduate students who included, among others: Juan Lechago and Adolfo de Bold.

After retiring from Queen’s, in 1977, Dr. Bencosme returned to his native Dominican Republic, where he had a successful career as educator, policy-maker and researcher, publishing an additional 150 papers dealing with a multitude of subjects and issues which span from pathology to the transfer of technology between developed and developing countries and his reflections on ethics concerning modern science. Furthermore, between 1987 and 1993 he was the Director of the Graduate Program in Medical Sciences, Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra. He received the National Award of Sciences from the National Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic. There were many other awards for sure, but more importantly he was recognized in his country as one of the foremost scientific personalities for the creation of research institutions, and his valuable scientific work in UNPHU( with generous aid from the Canadian International Development  Agency) and Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra as well as the Hospital Regional Universitario José María Cabral y Báez.

Dr. Bencosme was a talented man who displayed dedication and discipline in his work. He lived a full life and will be remembered, both at Queen’s University and Dominican universities for his many contributions to science, certainly, but also for the inspiration he was able to give his students and collaborators some of whom were able to further develop his original ideas and are now internationally renowned scientists in their own right. 

[cover of Alumni Review 2016 Issue 3]