Michael Danciger

Message from the President

Jan. 8, 2010

Dear LMU Community,

I am saddened to inform you of the death of Michael Danciger, professor of biology and a member of the Seaver College faculty for 32 years. He served LMU as chair of the Department of Biology from 1995 to 2002. Michael passed away Jan. 4, at age 66.

Michael’s influence has been wide and deep, carried on by his many students who went on to medical school or careers in the biomedical sciences. He had a passion for research, and his studies contributed to groundwork for gene therapies for many vision-related diseases. Michael was a visiting scholar in vision molecular genetics at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA from 1988 to 1995. His work with the Kearn Family Center for the Study of Retinal Degeneration, collaborating with colleagues at UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco and Stanford, sought to identify a single gene responsible for age-related retinal degeneration. Since 2001, Michael served as principal investigator on a major grant project from the National Eye Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to identify genes that reduce or slow retinal decline.

Michael was known for his gentle yet quick sense of humor. He often combined that humor with a clear plan for meetings of the Faculty Social Club. Even as he “lived with cancer,” in his words, he kept his deep concern for others. Michael was devoted to his family and an avid sports fan.

Our deepest condolences go to his wife, Jan, his son, Jeffrey, and his daughter, Meryl. Please keep the family of this generous scientist in your prayers and in your hearts, and give thanks for his presence among us for so many years. Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the American Cancer Society.

On a personal note, I will miss Michael’s wise counsel on important issues. His vision for LMU was clear and caring. He loved this place – and us.


Robert B. Lawton, S.J.