Sidney Mirvish, PhD, Carcinogenesis Researcher, Dies at 86

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Sidney Mirvish, PhD

Sidney Mirvish, PhD, Professor Emeritus in the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), whose pioneering research into nitrosamines and carcinogenesis led to changes in the way lunch meats, hot dogs, and sausages were made, died August 23 due to complications following emergency surgery. He was 86.

Ken Cowan, MD, PhD, 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.”

“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, MD, PhD, Havlik-Wall Professor of Oncology, Pathology, and Microbiology, 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.”

Dr. Mirvish completed his doctorate degree in organic chemistry at Cambridge University in England and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. After working in South Africa at the University of Witwatersrand, he joined the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, where he developed his interest in carcinogenesis.

After working briefly at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research 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. He was a faculty member at the Eppley Institute for 46 years.

Dr. Mirvish had 155 publications, and his laboratory 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.

His wife, Lynda; two children; daughter-in-law; three grandchildren; and sister survive Dr. Mirvish. ■