The Bioiron community in Israel and worldwide mourns the sudden death of Professor Eliezer Rachmilewitz, who passed away in the early hours of December 17, 2017. Eliezer was the son of one of the legendary scholars and physicians who set the foundation of Hadassah Medical Center as both academic and clinical institution of worldwide reputation and he continued that tradition of excellence until his last moment of life. Eliezer was one of the pioneers of Thalassemia research, and one of the first to recognize the relationship between oxidative stress and iron overload in a variety of hematological disorders. He had a passion for medical research and until the last moments of his life he shared it with colleagues and students, always showing an incredible learning ability and enthusiasm for new developments in basic and clinical aspects. Eliezer had an outgoing personality with a flair for approaching and attracting people and offering his professional assistance to those in need. He was endowed with a special skill for liaising between investigators specializing in different areas of Biomedicine and as such he generated fruitful collaborations with numerous people worldwide and particularly with those in the Middle East, including Israel, the Palestinian territories and Arab countries.
The Bioiron community had the privilege to honor Eliezer Rachmilewitz (together with Chaim Hershko) for their pivotal contributions to the field of Iron in Health and Disease in a memorable meeting held in Ein Kerem in May 2010. Eliezer will undoubtedly be missed by his family and by the extended biomedical community of which Bioiron is part of and closest to his heart.
In the name of the Board of Directors of IBIS (International Society for the Study of Iron in Biology and Medicine) we extend our deepest condolences to family and friends for the loss of an eminent personality that will be missed by those who were privileged to work with him.
Prof. (Emeritus) Ioav Cabantchik, President
Prof. Martina Muckenthaller, President Elect
Eliezer was a friend and a mentor. I met him during my first year of work at Cornell during one of his regular visits to New York. As soon as we started talking about the work I was developing in beta-thalassemia, he immediately wondered if the mouse models of beta-thalassemia I was using could be utilized to study a new protein, unknown to many, called hepcidin. That simple question eventually led my laboratory to develop many exciting studies and collaborations with wonderful colleagues in the field of iron metabolism. He represented my gateway to the science of iron, a subject that even today continues to fascinate me deeply. Those initial studies created a strong scientific bond between Eliezer and myself, a relationship that continued for many years and sparked many conversations on the role of iron and oxidative stress in thalassemia and other disorders. I frequently received phone calls from Eliezer, eager to discuss the most recent discoveries in the field of iron metabolism and how these findings could impact the treatment of many patients. He had an incredible vision and, for this reason, he constantly connected people that could benefit in working together. As he liked to say, he was a “matchmaker”. And I like to add, he was a very successful and effective “matchmaker”.
Several years ago, during one of my visits to Israel, he invited me to lunch. As we were eating delicious food, he received a phone call. After discussing for several minutes, he looked extremely proud: the prime minister of Israel just called him, asking his opinion on a sensitive political subject that required a medical background. Eliezer was happy every time someone asked him to help, irrespective of their nationality, religion or political affiliation. Science was his life, and represented the best way to connect with people.
I saw Eliezer recently in Philadelphia and then at the American Society of Hematology meeting. He was as active as usual, asking questions, making plans and talking about his next trips. I think his life was full, active and exciting, until his last moments.