Professor Michael Murtaugh, PhD, passed away last Tuesday from complications related to his ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 67. A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 29 at 11 a.m. at Calvary Church in Roseville. Visitation is from 9 to 11 a.m. at the church.
Mike joined the college in 1985 and spent his University of Minnesota career in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences. He was a consummate faculty member, excelling in teaching courses and conducting research and outreach. Mike authored more than 225 peer-reviewed journal articles, was the primary advisor for 30 Master’s and PhD students, and held three U.S. patents. At the time of his death, Mike was serving on the editorial boards of more than a dozen academic journals, and had successfully completed nearly 160 sponsored projects as a PI or co-PI.
He was an international leader in battling the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv) that costs U.S. swine producers alone nearly $500 million annually. Mike used molecular biology to first understand the PRRSv pathogen and immunology to evaluate the pig’s immune response. His lasting legacy is a generation of scientifically-trained swine health specialists.
Mike earned his BS in biology at the University of Notre Dame and then served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela. He earned a PhD in entomology at The Ohio State University. The University of Texas Medical School in Houston was his next stop—spending four years in a post-doctoral position in the departments of internal medicine and pharmacology—before arriving in St. Paul.
He will be remembered for his dry sense of humor, a character trait that he maintained even as his battle with cancer raged. Mike cared passionately about science and derived some of his greatest personal satisfaction working on the collegiate strategic plan and the International Conference on One Medicine and One Science. Mike cared deeply about science informing policy and saw the need for scientists to be more actively involved in communicating about their research. I am grateful to have known him, and stand in awe of the many contributions he made to our college.
Dean Trevor Ames
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Minnesota