International BioIron Society

In Memory of Kenneth D. Bloch, MD

Kenneth D. Bloch, MD, a cardiologist in the Department of Medicine and member of the BioIron Society, died on September 13, 2014, at the age of 58.

Professor Bloch was born in New York City on May 17, 1956, and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, USA. After receiving his undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown University in 1978 and 1981, he began his career as a medical resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital. A cardiology fellowship and a position on the division staff in 1990 followed. Two years later, he became an investigator in the Cardiovascular Research Center. In 2007 Kenneth D. Bloch received the Harvard Medical School (HMS) William T. G. Morton Professorship.

For Professor Bloch, medicine was more than just a way to make a living. His idea of a sabbatical was to spend six months, seven days per week in his own lab. It was there he spent his happiest hours, studying three cell signaling molecules important to regulating the cardiovascular system: atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), nitric oxide (NO), and the bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs). With deep respect we would like to acknowledge his achievements within the iron research field: Professor Bloch generated the small molecule BMP inhibitor Dorsomorphin (LDN.193189) to inhibit the hepatic hormone hepcidin- the main systemic iron regulator in the body. LDN-193189 prevented development of the second most common form of anemia, the anemia of inflammation, in a murine model. In addition, LDN-193189 was effective in treatment of anemia of inflammation in mice. Professor Bloch characterized the BMP receptors that are inhibited by LDN-193189 and gained essential insights into the role of BMP receptors in iron homeostasis: Alk2 is responsible for basal hepcidin regulation, while Alk3, the most prominent receptor, is essential to maintain baseline hepcidin levels.

The International BioIron Society remembers his achievements and his personality. He was a passionate scientist, who was called by his friends the pied piper of scientists, always with a flock of young students and physician/scientists to whom he devoted hours, patiently guiding and counseling each day.

IBIS thanks Dr Andrea Steinbicker (Universit√§tsklinikum M√ľnster) for contributing this tribute to Professor Bloch.

posted: September 20, 2014