With deep sadness we learned that Myron Roy Melamed, known to his friends and colleagues as Mike, died on September 18 after a six and a half year battle against pancreatic cancer. His name is well-known among researchers in the fields of pathology, flow cytometry, and imaging cytometry and his contributions to these fields are many, varied, and impactful.
Mike earned his MD from the University of Cincinnati in 1950 and followed it with residency and fellowship training that included internal medicine, hematology, pathology, and histochemistry at the University of Cincinnati, Duke University Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, and Hammersmith Hospital in London. During the Korean War he served as a Captain in the Army Medical Corps. From 1979 to 1989 Mike was the Chairman of the Pathology Department at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Professor of Pathology and Biology at Cornell University Medical College. From1991 to 2007 he was Chairman of the Department of Pathology at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY.
His contribution to the field of cytometry is enormous. In 1965, Mike and his friend and colleague Louis (Lou) Kamentsky, who was then at the IBM Watson Laboratory at Columbia University published the seminal paper “Spectrophotometer: New Instrument for Ultra-rapid Cell Analysis” . The extremely fruitful collaboration between Mike and Lou, which continued into the current century, led to the development of the several generations of flow cytometers and subsequently to the laser scanning slide-based cytometer (LSC). Their work together is described in the continuing segment of this In Memoriam article by Lou himself.
Mike's interest in cytometry stems from his recognition of the importance of quantitative analysis of cellular attributes in pathology. He pioneered the development of numerous applications of flow- and laser scanning- cytometry for clinical diagnosis and prognosis, particularly for many types of cancer. A perusal of his publications reveals numerous original and review articles, extensively cited, utilizing cytometry for analyses of clinical material as well as in basic research in cell biology [1-28]. From historical perspective it is likely that Mike will be recognized as the world most renowned pathologist contributing towards developments in cytometry.
Mike's contribution comes also from his work in organizing and coordinating developments in the field of cytometry worldwide. He was the originator, Founding Member and one of the first Presidents of the International Society for Analytical Cytology, currently known as the International Society for Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC). Under the auspices of the Engineering Foundation Mike organized one of the first international cytometry congresses, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In 1979, together with Mortimer Mendelsohn and Paul Mullaney, he coedited the seminal monograph “Flow Cytometry and Sorting” , which became a “bible” for all researchers engaged in flow cytometry. The monograph rapidly sold-out and the second, enlarged edition  also became one of the most sought-after books on cytometry at that time.
Apart from cytometry, Mike's contributions in field of pathology were also widely recognized. He served as President of the American Society of Cytology, and the New York Pathology Society, and sat on the board of directors of the New York Transplant program. He coauthored a study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1990 which confirmed for the first time the association of second-hand smoke and lung cancer . One of Mike's recent contributions, coauthored with Leo Koss was the 5th edition of “Koss' Diagnostic Cytology and Its Histopathologic Bases” is widely regarded as the most comprehensive and authoritative text in the field of pathology and clinical cytology .
Mike Melamed received numerous awards and honors for his scientific research and teaching accomplishments including: the Papanicolaou Award of the American Society of Cytopathology, the Maurice Goldblatt Award of the International Society of Cytology, the Daniel Drake Award of the University of Cincinnati Medical School, and the Fred Stewart Award of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for contributions in tumor pathology. He served on the Nobel Prize nominating committee for Medicine.
I had the privilege and pleasure to work and collaborate with Mike from 1974 until 1990 at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, initially working in his laboratory, and then more independently as member of his Pathology Department. I will remember him as a very kind and helpful person. He was friendly and compassionate to all members of his laboratory, regardless of their position, from the technical personnel to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and assistants. His knowledge of pathology and fascination in cytometry provided a fertile ground for creativity and productivity in research linking these disciplines. In his very busy work-day as an attending pathologist immersed in the daily chores of examining pathology specimens he was able to find time to drop into the research laboratory and inquire about the recent findings from the cytometric data. Frequently he would bring freshly examined tumor specimens for further analysis for DNA ploidy and other markers, by flow cytometry.
Among the graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows working in his research laboratory were scientists who went to become renowned in their respective fields of interest: Frank Traganos in the area of cell cycle and development of new cytometry methods, Thomas (Tom) Sharpless in computer software development and Don Evenson in advancing male fertility assays. Don's interests and his subsequent advances in the field of male fertility was an outcome of the seminal paper published when Don was still in Mike's laboratory, describing the altered susceptibility of DNA to denaturation in abnormal sperm cells, as detected by acridine orange methodology . Lisa Staiano-Coico was also Mike's graduate student. In the field of cytometry she is recognized as the past President of ISAC organizing the highly successful XXth ISAC Congress in Montpellier, France. Lisa's distinguished academic career included positions of senior associate dean at Cornel University, provost of the Temple University and President of the City College of New York. Michael (Mike) Andreeff coming as the post-doctoral fellow from Germany, for a short period of time was also in Mike's laboratory discovering importance of multiparametric analyses by flow cytometry for clinical diagnosis of hematological diseases . Mike Andreeff has a very distinguished career, and is currently holding a position of Professor of Medicine and Haas Chair in Genetics, Departments of Leukemia and Stem Cell Transplantation, and also as the Head of Flow Cytometry Core Facility, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston TX. Also passing through Mike's laboratory was Marek Kimmel, a mathematician from Poland who just immigrated to the US. Their collaboration was extremely fruitful, leading to numerous publications in which Marek's expertise in mathematics contributed to more comprehensive analysis of the data coming mostly from pathological samples (e.g., 12,26–28). Marek has also a distinguished career and is now holding a position of Professor of Statistics and Bioengineering at Rice University in Houston, TX.
Wojciech (Voytek) Gorczyca was a resident in Mike's Pathology Department at the New York Medical College. Voytek'c research accomplishments at the time of his residency included the development of one of the most widely used methods to identify apoptotic cells (the TUNEL assay) and application of this assay for pathological specimens [15, 29, 30]. Subsequently Voytek became the Director of the Flow Cytometry Departments at Genzyme and then at the CSI Cancer Diagnosis Laboratories (Alpharetta, GA), and authored several extensive monographs including “Flow Cytometry in Neoplastic Hematology” (Informa), “Prognostic Markers in Hematologic Oncology” (Taylor & Francis) and “Atlas of Differential Diagnosis in Neoplastic Hematopathology (Informa). These books represent the dawn of modern pathology bridging classical pathology with flow and imaging cytometry. I am certain that it is the enthusiasm and devotion of Mike to science, in particular in applying cytometry in pathology and cell biology, as well as his leadership qualities that inspired his students to achieve such successes.
I do consider Mike to have been my key mentor, the man who directed me towards cytometry and pathology. I owe most of my accomplishments in these fields to the support and the possibilities he granted to me. I will never forget my first steps in his laboratory in 1974 and my first experiments and analyses using the Cytofluorograph®, the state-of-the-art cytofluometer developed by Lou Kamentsky and manufactured at his Bio/Physics System. With wonder, I was seeing for the first time the multiparametric measurements of thousands of cells per sample, completed in a matter of a few minutes. Frank Traganos was then an experienced user of this instrument. Together with Mike, Lawrence (Dick) Adams and Lou Kamentsky they already had published the first papers detailing the use of this flow cytometer [31-34]. With Frank and Tom Sharpless we started to publish a series of papers expanding application of flow cytometry in different areas of pathology and cell biology. The methodology for differential staining of DNA and RNA with the use of acridine orange was presented in the papers that received high citation rates [8, 9]. Another important study was conceived by Tom to measure electronic pulse height and width of cells passing in flow through the laser beam of the flow cytometer [35, 36]. The invention described in these papers, essential for identification and size measurement of single cells, is now widely used in nearly all types of flow cytometers.
Mike was also my friend who helped me not only in my research but also was interested and strongly supportive in my personal matters. With much sentiment I can recall the warmhearted moments with him and his wife Barbara when we had time to be together outside the laboratory. Mike was always willing to share his wisdom advising me on different issues often stemmed from my lack of experience in the US as a fresh immigrant from Poland.
Richard Dawkins, the well- known British evolutionary biologist and author in his book “The Selfish Gene” introduces the term “meme” defining a product of creativeness of the brain such as a new idea, a solution to a problem or a discovery. The memes propagate in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain through generations; their inter-generational dissemination resembles that of promulgation of genes. The “immortality” of scientists is measured by the frequency and duration of the memes they create. As a mentor of so many accomplished scientists Mike was able to transmit a lot of his memes to other brains. His memes are also alive today transmitted worldwide through numerous highly regarded publications. His 25 most cited publications, all of them cited more than 200 times each, provide evidence of the extent of his memes [1-25]. Although Mike will be sorely missed his loss is counterbalanced by the memes he leaves, which makes his passing less sorrowful.