Dr. Robert P. Wade Jr., 43, researcher, associate professor at UM medical school


Dr. Robert Patrick Wade Jr., an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who earned wide acclaim for research on muscle gene regulation and muscle diseases, died Tuesday of brain cancer at his Columbia residence. He was 43.

A faculty member in the school's department of biochemistry and molecular biology since 1989, Dr. Wade had made significant discoveries regarding how genes and the genetic code control muscular development.

"By understanding the control of muscular development, we are then able to apply that knowledge to counteract diseases that affect muscles," said Dr. Donald L. Gill, a longtime colleague and professor of biochemistry at the medical school.

Dr. Marvin Boluyt, who teaches kinesiology at the University of Michigan, met Dr. Wade several years ago at the National Institutes of Health.

"He was a young guy who was very early in his career but already had acquired a substantial reputation in his field. He had tremendous potential," Dr. Boluyt said. "He used cutting-edge methods to study and solve important questions. In all science, I cannot imagine a better role model."

Dr. Wade's research led to a greater understanding of muscular dystrophy and cardiac function. His work was supported by the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health, family members said.

"He was the first to clone human muscle genes with Dr. Peter Gunning," said Kim Poffenberger, Dr. Wade's wife of 11 years and a virologist with the federal Food and Drug Administration. ,, "He found his work to be an intriguing field with many questions to be answered."

Dr. Gill, who described Dr. Wade as a "very affable man who was down-to-earth and had a great empathy for life," said, "He was a very dedicated scientist who loved his work and stood in awe of science. He was fascinated by everything around him."

Dr. Wade was known for a finely honed sense of humor and was popular with his graduate students, who considered him their mentor. It wasn't uncommon for Dr. Wade to pepper a lecture with jokes.

"He did that to see if they were awake," said his wife, laughing.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Dr. Wade earned his bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Connecticut in 1978. He earned his master's and doctoral degrees in molecular biology from Yale University in 1983 and did postgraduate studies at Stanford University Medical School, where he met his wife.

He enjoyed watching the Orioles, hiking and camping.

He was a member of First Lutheran Evangelical Church, 3604 Chatham Road in Ellicott City, where a memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Dr. Wade is also survived by a son, James Wade, and a daughter, Katharine Wade, both at home; his parents, Irene and Robert P. Wade Sr. of Fairfield, Conn.; two sisters, Eileen Wade and Kathleen Young, both of Fairfield; and several nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations may be made to the Wade Children Education Fund, c/o Curran and Curran, 79 S. Benson Road, Fairfield, Conn. 06430.

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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