NHLBI Cholesterol Researcher Hoeg Dies
Dr. Jeffrey Michael Hoeg, a leading researcher in cholesterol and lipoprotein metabolism, died of renal cancer at his home in Potomac, Md., on July 21. He was chief of the section of cell biology in NHLBI's Molecular Disease Branch.
Dr. Jeffrey Michael Hoeg
Hoeg was 46 and his sudden death came only months after his participation in a major NHLBI sponsored conference on cardiovascular health. His colleagues remembered him as an extraordinary scientist but, above all, a warm and caring person.
"Dr. Hoeg was a remarkable scientist who made lasting contributions to our understanding of lipoprotein metabolism and its connection to cardiovascular disease," said NHLBI director Dr. Claude Lenfant. "His death is a terrible loss for his colleagues and patients."
"Jeff was an outstanding physician," said Dr. Bryan Brewer, chief of the Molecular Disease Branch. "He had a special interest in children with familial hypercholesterolemia and played a central role in the development of new and innovative treatment programs for them. Jeff was internationally known for the treatment of familial hypercholesterolemia and patients were referred to his care from around the world."
Brewer recalled Hoeg as a charismatic personality who had a wonderful sense of humor. "He was greatly admired by his colleagues and his patients. As a physician-scientist, he also was a superb role model and mentor for younger investigators. He guided each young scientist with great care and insight as their careers blossomed under his tutelage.
"All of us benefited from Jeff's warmth and enthusiasm," Brewer continued. "He will be greatly missed by all of us and his memory will be with us forever."
"For the last 9 years, one of the best parts of my week at NIH was going to the lipid clinic with Jeff," said Dr. James Cleeman, coordinator of the NHLBI's National Cholesterol Education Program. "Jeff was able to impart to others his excitement about the life of the mind and about life in general. Whether he was speaking to scientific colleagues, to the public as a lecturer, or to the press, he was a gifted teacher.
"He was also a kind, compassionate, dedicated and talented doctor, who went to great lengths to ensure the well-being of his patients," Cleeman continued. "He took an interest in what they felt and started every session by asking about those parts of their lives that were unrelated to their condition, the parts that were the focus of their lives. He'd see a patient after 3 or 6 months and ask about that trip to Alaska or a child's progress in school.
"It's been hard to see the patients' faces as they come into the clinic and hear the news of Jeff's death. They cared so much about him and they're shocked and saddened like the rest of us at the loss.
"I'll always remember Jeff's zest for life and his optimism. He never lost that optimism, even when he was very sick and knew precisely what the outlook for his illness was. He taught us all how meaningful and full life can be."
Hoeg was born in 1952 in Gary, Ind. His record of achievement began early. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology in 1974 from Indiana University, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Three years later, he received a medical degree with honors from Indiana University in Indianapolis.
In 1980, Hoeg joined NHLBI as a research associate in the Molecular Disease Branch. He then served as a medical staff fellow and senior investigator before being named chief of the section of cell biology in 1991.
He became a PHS commissioned officer in 1980. He served the Clinical Center as a member of the options team and was named to the CC board of governors when that group was formed in 1996.
Hoeg coauthored about 125 articles and his work earned him such awards as the PHS Achievement and Commendation Medals. His research focused on the roles of lipoproteins, apolipoproteins, and cholesterol in the development of cardiovascular disease. His work on patients with specific inborn errors of metabolism was critical in identifying key factors that regulate lipoprotein metabolism and atherogenesis.
Hoeg belonged to many professional organizations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Heart Association's Council on Arteriosclerosis, and the American Federation of Clinical Research. Additionally, he was on the board of governors of the American College of Cardiology and was a fellow of the American Colleges of Physicians, of Nutrition, and of Cardiology. He also served on the editorial boards of such publications as the American Journal of Cardiology and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Survivors include his wife, Nancy Jean Hoeg, two daughters, Jessica Jean Hoeg and Laura Nicole Hoeg, his parents, Kenneth and Patricia Hoeg, and two sisters.
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