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December 3, 2023

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Memorial for Gerold Morton Grodsky

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Graveside: 11:00 AM Friday, January 6th, 2023
Mt. Tamalpais Mortuary and Cemetery
2500 5th Avenue
San Rafael, CA 94901
Memorial Contribution: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
Memorial Contribution: Diabetes Center at UCSF

January 18, 1927 - December 29, 2022

We are saddened to announce the passing of Dr. Gerold Morton Grodsky (Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Medicine, University of California-San Francisco), science professor and bon vivant, who found humor in life, and had a desire to provide warmth and support to friends and professional associates. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Jan. 18, 1927, the son of Louis G. Grodsky and Goldie Feldacker; died Thursday, Dec.29, 2022, surrounded by his loved ones, in San Francisco. He was 95 years old but lived until the end like a much younger man.

In grammar and high school, he was a committed and eclectic student, and a total nerd before the term was invented. He was still invited to all the parties because his father was a local soft-drink bottler, and Jerry supplied the free soda. Working with his father in the factory stimulated his early interest in chemistry. At age 17, he was sent to the University of Illinois for the V-12 Naval Officer Training Program, and graduated summa cum laude in Chemistry, as a Naval ensign. It was during this period that he expanded his world to include socializing, amateur theater, and his secret lifelong delight, cheerleading, becoming head cheerleader at the University of Illinois. Dr. Grodsky obtained a master's degree in Biochemistry at Illinois and his PhD in Biochemistry at Berkeley. While at Berkeley he met and fell in love with Kayla Deane Wolfe, his wife of 50 years until her death in 2003. After Berkeley, he,his wife and their daughter, Andrea, spent a year in England, where he was a postdoctoral fellow at Cambridge University. It was there that he expanded his interests into diabetes research. After studying bilirubin metabolism for two years as a researcher at the University of California - San Francisco, he became part of UCSF's Metabolic Unit, a precursor to the current UCSF Diabetes Center. There, he turned his attention to the study of insulin, which would become his lifelong research focus. Exposed to both theoretical and clinical components of diabetes research in the Metabolic Unit, he became a PhD basic scientist with the then-rare opportunity to work across basic and clinical disciplines.

In the early sixties, Dr. Grodsky was the developer of the first precipitating radio immunoassay for insulin, which permitted the accurate, specific measurement of insulin in biological fluids and tissues. His laboratory focused on the mechanisms involved in the synthesis, storage and secretion of insulin, with emphasis on the kinetics and quantitative relationships of these mechanisms. From these studies came the description of the fast and slow phases of insulin release, and the hypothesis that insulin is stored in compartments of differing availability for release. The fast phase of insulin release was shown to be vital in the maintenance of glucose balance, and its impairment is an early defect in type 2 diabetes. This rapid insulin release is being incorporated into the design of algorithms for the Artificial Pancreas, to design faster acting beta-cell stimulants, and for fast absorbing insulin preparations. An early classic finding was that insulin levels were high in nondiabetic obesity while the underlying characteristic of Type 2 diabetes was impaired insulin secretion. Other areas of research activity included the demonstration of insulin auto-antibodies and their role in Type 1 Diabetes.

Dr. Grodsky published over 230 papers over a period of 60 years. His papers, including some of the oldest, remain frequently cited. Dr. Grodsky was an invited lecturer to more than 25 countries, and was a visiting professor at the University of Geneva and at Paris Diderot University. He was founding editor of two diabetes journals, and received the Rumbough Science Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a Merit Award from the National Institutes of Health, the Paul Lacy Memorial Lecture Award from the International Pancreas & Islet Transplant Association, and UCSF's Lifetime Achievement Award, which further acknowledges his research contributions with the annual Grodsky Basic Science Award. He was the recipient of the RH Williams/R Levine Award, an NIH Merit Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award(UCSF). In 1993, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation established the Gerold and Kayla Grodsky Basic Research Scientist Award in honor of Dr. Grodsky's four decades of diabetes research. In 2010, UCSF created the Gerold Grodsky, PhD Chair in Diabetes Research. Dr.Grodsky consulted, or served on the advisory boards, of a variety of start-up biotechnology companies and large pharmaceutical companies, both in the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Grodsky formally retired as Professor of Biochemistry and Medicine in 1990, but remained fully active at UCSF until he closed his laboratory in 1991. He continued as a consultant to the Diabetes Center until his death. "I have been younger longer than almost anyone," Jerry would say.

Because of his pleasant demeanor and magnetic, joyous personality, he was loved and admired by all who knew him. This was particularly true of his students, colleagues, staff and business associates.

Outside of his scientific career , Jerry had many interests and hobbies. He was a sharpshooter and collected antique black powder rifles. He loved boating and sailing and was a member of the San Francisco Yacht Club. An avid tennis player, he was a member of the California Tennis club and the Meadowood Club in St. Helena Ca. His fondest memories were of fishing trips with family to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and just last fall Alaska.

Jerry was predeceased by his wife, Kayla, his daughter, Jamie, and his brother, Myron. He is survived by his daughter, Andrea (Peter) Huber of Bethesda, Maryland,his sisters-in-law, Prisella (Myron) Grodsky of St. Louis and Judith (Elliott) Wolfe of Salt Lake City; his grandchildren Sophia (Avrohom) Cherlin, Michael Huber, and Stephen Huber; and two great-grandchildren; in addition to beloved nieces, nephews, friends, associates, and previous students.

He was grateful for the 20 years of love and companionship of Roberta Sherman, with whom he shared a love of theater, travel, art, great cuisine, and spending time in St. Helena. The family wishes to thank his caretaker Eddilee for making him comfortable at the end. The family held a private funeral.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International or the Diabetes Center at UCSF.