Services today for Sidney Mirvish, Ph.D.

August 25, 2015

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Sidney Mirvish, Ph.D.
Services will be held today for Sidney Mirvish, Ph.D., a professor emeritus in the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases whose pioneering research into nitrosamines and carcinogenesis led to changes in the way lunch meats, hot dogs and sausages were made.

Dr. Mirvish died Sunday night at the age of 86.

His service will be held today at 11 a.m. at Beth Israel Cemetery, 7800 Crown Point Ave.

For a link to Dr. Mirvish's obituary in the Omaha World-Herald, click here.

Dr. Mirvish was a member of the Eppley Institute faculty for more than 40 years.

In a note to staff Monday announcing the news, Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, called Dr. Mirvish "an internationally recognized leader in nitrosamines and carcinogenesis" who "helped build the scientific reputation of UNMC and the Eppley Institute.

About Dr. Mirvish

Dr. Mirvish completed graduate school in organic chemistry at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. After working in South Africa at the University of Witwatersrand, he joined the Weizmann Institute in Israel where he developed his interest in carcinogenesis. After working briefly at the McArdle Institute at the University of Wisconsin, he was recruited as an associate professor to the Eppley Institute in 1969. He was promoted to professor in 1977, served as interim director and associate director of the institute from 1981-1986, and received the Outstanding Research and Creativity Award (ORCA) from the University of Nebraska in 1986.

Dr. Mirvish had 155 publications and his lab was funded by the National Cancer Institute through 2013 (as professor emeritus). He was still working on grant applications and research manuscripts and continued to come regularly to institute seminars and meetings.

"Sidney was a remarkable individual and scientist," Dr. Cowan said. "His continued passion for science and the Eppley Institute was truly inspirational. He will be dearly missed."

Samuel Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., Havlik-Wall Professor of Oncology, knew Dr. Mirvish for 45 years, first at Wisconsin, then at UNMC.

"He was an outstanding scientist, known for his seminal research on carcinogenic N-Nitrosamines," Dr. Cohen said. "He was the first to show their formation from nitrites in food, and the inhibition of this formation by vitamin C. This led to changes in the way lunch meats, hot dogs and sausages were made.

"Despite severe visual impairment, he was a highly productive scientist, with NCI support continuing into his 80s," Dr. Cohen said. "He was not only a renowned scientist, but was an avid collector of South African art and artifacts, and was a generous, friendly, warm human being, friend and colleague. He will be greatly missed."

Chancellor emeritus Harold M. Maurer, M.D., called Dr. Mirvish "a quiet, unassuming man," despite his accomplishments as a scientist.

"In the summer, you would see him walking to work in shorts and wearing a backpack," Dr. Maurer said. "He exhibited the essence of diversity at UNMC. It gave UNMC character! I'll miss him."

"The campus will not be the same without him walking it every day, and the front row of seminars will forever be empty," said Bryan Katafiasz, an administrative associate in the UNMC Department of Genetics, Cell Biology & Anatomy.

Dr. Mirvish is survived by his wife, Lynda, and two children, Leora Mirvish and Daniel Mirvish.


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Asserewou Etekpo
August 25, 2015 at 11:47 AM

Rest in peace Sidney. We will miss you.

Dan McQuade
August 25, 2015 at 10:15 AM

Rest in peace Sidney. I will miss your smile and the talks in the hall. Thank you for your conversations. You are an interesting person. Dan McQuade

Clarence Ueda
August 25, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Sid was an individual of great character. He was a legend at UNMC. UNMC will not be the same.

August 25, 2015 at 9:29 AM

He was always really nice, no matter who you were or what department you worked in. He really believed we were all a team and should help each other.

Tom O'Connor
August 25, 2015 at 9:28 AM

Sidney was unique. He was a campus fixture who would always make an appearance at campus events. He loved doing research, and he never stopped in his quest for knowledge. We lost a true treasure....a great man.

Patty Davis
August 25, 2015 at 7:04 AM

I've seen Dr. Mirvish walking on campus since I started here over 22 years ago. He was always chipper and said hello with a smile. I would see him on 42nd Street in front of Wittson quite regularly and we would chat for a few minutes and then he was back to walking in with his backpack on, no matter the weather. I just chatted with him a week or so ago. A very nice, friendly man. I'll miss our hellos!