Dr. David Tuckchow Yue, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor of biomedical engineering and neuroscience, died of a heart attack Dec. 23 while working in his lab in East Baltimore. He was 57 and lived in Towson.
"He was an acclaimed biophysicist, biomedical engineer and molecular neuro-cardiac physiologist," said Landon S. King, the executive vice dean of the Hopkins medical school. "David was an expert in understanding the signaling inside heart and brain cells that are critical to their function."
Born in Midland, Mich., he was the son of a materials scientist, Alfred Yue, who was also known as Shui-Choh, and Virginia Chin-Wen Tang, a nurse. Dr. Yue was the first member of his family born in the United States. His great-great-grandfather, who was born in southern China, came to California in the 1840s, made a fortune in gold and later moved back to China. Other descendants came to the United States and worked in various fields, including railroads.
He earned a bachelor's degree in biochemical sciences at Harvard University and moved to Baltimore in 1979 to earn both a medical degree and a doctorate from Hopkins.
He studied with Dr. Kiichi Sagawa, who worked in cardiac physiology.
Dr. Yue joined the Hopkins department of biomedical engineering in 1988. Colleagues said he focused on discovering the underlying mysteries of electrical and calcium signals, the molecular languages within neurons and cardiac myocytes. At his death, he was co-director of the Hopkins doctoral program in biomedical engineering.
He received the Kenneth S. Cole Award from the membrane biophysics subgroup of the Biophysical Society.
"David trained generations of cutting-edge scientists," said Dr. King. "He was beloved by his students and colleagues alike for his ability to present complex concepts in an understandable, compelling way."
In 2009 Dr. Yue received the Hopkins Excellence in Teaching Award from the Whiting School of Engineering.
"He transforms his lectures into something like a thriller movie — you don't want to miss a second of it. His lectures are 90-minute marvels covering the history, mechanisms and applications of ion channel study," said an article in a Hopkins publication, The Gazette, in 2009. "The material excites him so much that it excites all of us."
Friends recalled Dr. Yue's ability to play jazz as well as the classics on the piano.
"He was an accomplished pianist who, if he wanted to, had the talent to pursue a music career. He particularly liked jazz," said a neighbor, William R. Beers. "He was an active church leader at Grace Fellowship Church in Timonium. He was spiritual and applied his teaching skills to add to the congregation's religious experience."
Dr. Yue was also a scriptural scholar. He recently finished presenting a six-week course on science and religion. Friends said he took a scientific approach to studying scriptural history.
"There are many other things that could be said about David, but the most telling is his humbleness, his respect for others and his helpfulness," said Mr. Beers, a senior engineer with Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
His son, Michael Yue of Baltimore, described his father as a spiritual man. In 2006, Dr. Yue wrote a blog post titled "The Privilege of Discovery."
"My father wrote, 'Every so often, the veil of confusing experimental results is parted, and something deep and beautiful about how biological life works is revealed. It is as if a syllable that God spoke becomes suddenly audible. The thrill of unearthing such 'God speak' is one of the special rewards of my profession.' This was his philosophy," his son said.
His son said Dr. Tue was a joyful person.
"He really liked to tell funny stories," his son said. "Every time he led a Bible study discussion, it would have a Ravens football analogy."
Dr. Yue served on the editorial board for Biophysical Journal and was a consultant to numerous scientific publications.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Grace Fellowship Church, 9505 Deereco Road in Timonium, where he was an active member.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 27 years, Dr. Nancy Chang Yue, a neuroradiologist; two other sons, Daniel Nathan Yue of Boston and Jonathan Edward Yue of Towson; a brother, John Yue of Los Altos, Calif., and a sister, Mary Yue Yuan of Paradise Valley, Ariz.