Deborah Alper

Deborah Alper ( / November 25, 2009)

Deborah W. Alper, former director of intellectual property management and business development at the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, died July 13 of complications from Lyme disease at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. She was 65.

The daughter of Dewitt Gifford Wilcox, an industrial engineer, and Eleanor Emery Wilcox, a nurse, Deborah Elaine Wilcox was born in Portland, Maine.

She spent her early years in Hawaii, Minnesota and Missouri before moving with her family to Tallmadge, Ohio, in the early 1960s.

After graduating from Tallmadge High School in 1967, she earned a bachelor's degree in 1971 from Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y.

In 1970, while she was a college student, she met Daniel Alper, a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. They married in 1972.

The couple moved to Ypsilanti, Mich., where they purchased an old farm that they restored and where they raised their three children.

Mrs. Alper worked as an analyst for the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and volunteered for the American Civil Liberties Union, where she was membership and development director.

After her children were grown, Mrs. Alper returned to college and earned a master's degree in business in 1989 from Eastern Michigan University.

In 1990, she joined the University of Michigan's Technology Movement office.

"Her abilities for managing business and relating to people on all levels allowed her to build a successful career in technology transfer," said her husband, a mechanical engineer. "She was responsible for moving technology and inventions from academic labs into wider beneficial use by corporations and government agencies."

In 2001, she and her husband moved to Baltimore when she took a job as director of intellectual property management and business development at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"Deborah had done this work in Michigan. She supported the technical transfer process in taking ideas and getting them out there through commercialization or nonprofits. She helped get these ideas out to the public," said Jonathan Weiner, a professor of health policy and management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health who worked closely with Mrs. Alper.

"She worked closely with a dozen other faculty professors and found ways to make this happen. It could be through developing software, patents, copyrights and working with outside corporations and government offices," said Dr. Weiner. "She had a major impact in this area and made a difference."

Dr. Weiner recalled Ms. Alper as outgoing and personable.

"She was the most jovial of colleagues and always upbeat. She always had a smile on her face and a joke," he said. "She was an absolute pleasure to work with."

After she retired in 2007, Mrs. Alper continued to work as a consultant on several technology transfer projects for the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"Even though she had retired, she kept her hand in and worked with us as a consultant," said Dr. Weiner.

A naturalist, Mrs. Alper enjoyed walking through Robert E. Lee Park, and observing plants and wildlife not only in "her backyard but also across North America where she had traveled extensively," said her husband.

A resident of the Lake Falls Village neighborhood of Baltimore County, she also enjoyed working in her garden planting flowers, vegetables and woodland plants.

Mrs. Alper and her husband were bike riders and especially liked traversing the former Northern Central Railroad Trail into Pennsylvania.

"We would go up all the way to New Freedom, Pa., eat lunch and have a beer at The Hodel, and then ride back down," said Mr. Alper.

"We would start at Monkton, Parkton or Hunt Valley. We didn't always get to New Freedom, but that was pretty much our standard ride," he said. "Sometimes we'd come down on the Pennsylvania extension through Glen Rock."

Mrs. Alper was an avid reader of fiction and nonfiction.

"Deborah had a great sense of humor that ranged from sophisticated to silly," her husband said. "There was always a twinkle in her eye. She laughed easily, and her laughter was infectious."

Mrs. Alper was a member of the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1710 Dulaney Valley Road, where a memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Aug. 9.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her son, Joshua Alper of Hoboken, N,J.; two daughters, Eli Emerton of Las Vegas and Jessica Alper of Berkeley, Calif; two brothers, David Wilcox of Washington and Max Wilcox of Apex, N.C.; and a grandson.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com