Remembering Diana Florescu, MD

Diana Florescu, MD

Diana Florescu, MD

Diana Florescu, MD, professor in the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine and infectious disease physician with Nebraska Medicine, died Jan. 27 at age 54 after an illness.

Services are set for this week. Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Monday at the Heafey Hoffman Dworak Cutler at 7805 W. Center Road. The service will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. See Dr. Florescu’s obituary for more information.

Dr. Florescu, recently named the 2022 UNMC Scientist Laureate, joined the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine in July 2009.

She also received UNMC’s 2020 Distinguished Scientist award. At that time, she said her goal was to “advance scientific research, bring new therapies and cutting-edge technology to affected populations and to treat a broad and diverse population of affected individuals.”

At UNMC, Dr. Florescu developed and led an internationally recognized clinical research program, becoming one of the university’s leading COVID-19 researchers. In 2020, she worked with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, leading the Phase 3 clinical trial of the NovaVax COVID vaccine at UNMC. A year later, she helped launch a clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of Molnupiravir, an oral antiviral, as a preventative treatment for COVID-19.

“Sadly, we have lost a highly respected member of our faculty. Dr Florescu was truly an inspirational educator, research scientist and clinician, as well as a longstanding, dedicated member of our med center family,” UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, said. “She will be greatly missed. Our very best wishes are extended to her family, colleagues and those privileged to know and work with her.”

“I knew Dr. Florescu to be a very kind and caring person,” said Harris A. Frankel, MD, chief medical and external affairs officer for Nebraska Medicine. “She was a celebrated clinician-scientist whose contributions will forever endure. She will be deeply missed.”

Debra Romberger, MD, chair of the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine, said the department was blessed to have Dr. Florescu as a faculty member. 

“She was a compassionate physician, a tenacious clinical researcher, and an extraordinary mentor to many,” Dr. Romberger said. “Her life made an amazing difference to her patients, her colleagues and her friends and family.”

Mark Rupp, MD, chief of the UNMC Division of Infectious Disease and medical director of Infection Control and Epidemiology for Nebraska Medicine, recently lauded Dr. Florescu on her contributions to the understanding of infectious diseases associated with solid organ transplantation, as well as the ability to recognize, treat and prevent these complications.

 “We will all profoundly miss Dr. Diana Florescu and will long grieve the loss of her presence,” Dr. Rupp said. “Anyone who knew Diana will also cherish her memory – she was dynamic and vital, full of a love for life – travel, dance, flowers. She cared deeply for her family, friends, colleagues and patients – a truly compassionate and skilled physician. Diana had tremendous determination, perseverance and grit. These traits, combined with her intelligence, enabled terrific career success and served her well as she battled her illness. She was truly an inspiration over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing forward with her vaccine trials and COVID therapeutic trials – even while fighting her own cancer.  She was a tremendous role model and will be long missed.”

Andre Kalil, MD, Dr. Florescu’s colleague and collaborator, said:

“Diana was a great friend, a tireless team worker, a compassionate physician and a passionate clinical researcher – the ultimate role model for all of us. I am deeply privileged and extremely grateful to have known Diana, and I will miss her very much.”

Dr. Florescu attended the Universitatea de Medicina Si Farmacie. She completed her residency in internal medicine at Danbury Hospital and her fellowship in infectious diseases at Columbia University. Her research interests include adenovirus, cytomegalovirus and fungal infections in solid organ transplantation; immunodiagnostic and vaccines in solid organ transplantation and infections in small bowel transplant recipients.

Dr. Florescu will be honored, along with 18 other researchers recently named UNMC Distinguished Scientist, Research Leadership and New Investigator Award winners for 2022, during a hybrid virtual and in-person awards ceremony at 4 p.m., Thursday, March 9, at the Durham Research Center auditorium.

Ken Bayles, PhD, UNMC vice chancellor for research, who oversees the awards, said he was saddened to hear of Dr. Florescu’s passing. “Although I only met her in person a few weeks ago, I certainly knew about her work as a clinician scientist and her skillful ability to navigate clinical trials,” he said. “It was clear from the time I was able to spend with her that she will be deeply missed by many.”

19 comments

  1. Howard Gendelman says:

    No words can express such an deep unexpected and tragic loss. Our prayers are with family, colleagues, and friends.

  2. Lisa Runco says:

    A truly wonderful human being, I am devastated. My thoughts are with Dr. Florescu’s family and friends, and the Department of Internal Medicine.

  3. Andrew Cha says:

    My deepest condolences for her family. We were blessed to have her touch our lives, although too short. She will be deeply missed.

  4. Lucy Muinov says:

    Diana will be remembered as a dear friend, an excellent physician, and a kind human being. She’ll be missed by so many. Thoughts and prayers with Dr. Marius Florescu and the family.

  5. Jennifer Larsen says:

    Among other things, I will forever remember Diana for how she stepped up to initiate vaccine research at UNMC just when we needed it– in the middle of the pandemic. However, she also had a rich life outside of the medical center, as well, that included her family, travel, and her love for dancing.

  6. Dr. Sheritta Strong says:

    Very sad to hear this news. Sending condolences to Diana’s family.

  7. Corrigan McBride says:

    Diana was an amazing physician and woman. She will be missed by the entire UNMC family and my thoughts and prayers are for her family.

  8. Babu Guda says:

    So saddened to hear the news. My deepest condolences to Diana’s family.

  9. Ashish Sharma says:

    You were an outstanding colleague and a physician. My deepest condolences. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

  10. Penny Hardiman says:

    Such a great loss to our UNMC Community. She will be missed by many. Holding her family in my heart!

  11. Peter Iwen says:

    So sad to hear this! Dianna will be remember for her compassion to her patients and her cheerful attitude when in her presence. My prayers and condolences to her family.

  12. Molly Ferris says:

    She was a wonderful human and a great boss. Her loss leaves a huge void.

  13. Toni Winters (Laux) says:

    This breaks my heart!! Dr. Florescu was a lovely human being. She was fun, fiery and fearless. I will miss her. Thoughts and prayers to her hubby and daughter during this hard time.

  14. Sara Pirtle says:

    Diana and her daughter, Ada, participated in the SAGH 2018 service trip to Nicaragua. Diana served as a faculty sponsor and Ada served as an interpreter for PT students on the trip. Diana supervised UNMC students who provided vaccinations to impoverished Nicaraguan children. She was well-liked by the students and our Nicaraguan colleagues who worked with her. I was always hoping that she could serve again in this capacity!

  15. Sheri Dunbar says:

    I was sad to learn of Diana’s passing. She will be missed by the research community, her patients, peers and all who knew her. Condolences to Marius and Ada.

  16. Bradley Britigan says:

    Diana will be greatly missed. What a complete and wonderful physician scientist and person. We are all fortunate to have known and worked with her.

  17. Bruce Polsky says:

    Diana’s brilliance was evident from the moment she joined me as a fellow. She was a caring and outstanding clinician and her scholarly productivity remains without rival in my nearly 4 decades of training fellows. The world has lost one of our best. My condolences to her family and colleagues.

  18. George Psevdos says:

    Everyone who worked with Diana during her ID fellowship, doctors and nurses, are devastated and saddened with the news of Diana’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers to her family and her colleagues.

  19. Becca Rohlf RN says:

    So very sorry to hear this. She was a true inspiration to our novavax research team
    She will be truly missed. My heart goes out to everyone who was touched and inspired by Diana. She was one of a kind

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