Maria Estela B. Roux

Maria Estela Roux, Ph.D., (AAI ’82) - AAI extends condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Argentinian biochemist, researcher, and educator Maria Estela Roux, an AAI member since 1982 and emeritus member since 2013, who died on June 18, 2017. The following tribute was authored by Everly Conway de Macario, Ph.D., AAI ’77, University of Maryland professor. AAI gratefully acknowledges the submission.

Maria Estela Roux (Estela), who passed away on June 18, was a dedicated professor and scientist throughout her professional life. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she earned degrees in pharmacy and biochemistry from Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires (the prestigious UNBA, currently UBA) before obtaining her doctorate from the UNBA Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica in 1973.

From very early in her career, Estela possessed a deep interest in science and particularly in immunology, which complemented her broadly sophisticated education in other areas. She was endowed with an uncommon capacity to appreciate art in several of its forms and participate with authority in wide-ranging cultural activities. Her many outstanding qualities combined to make Estela a magnetic personality and natural leader among the many colleagues and students whose admiration and friendship she enjoyed.

A speaker of Spanish, French (the language of her parents), and English, Estela thrived intellectually in Argentina—as well as in France, England, and the United States, countries in which she studied and worked as the recipient of multiple fellowship awards. In Paris, Estela served at the Pasteur Institute and Hôpital Saint-Louis in the laboratory of Maxime Seligmann, a pioneer in studying primary immunodeficiency disorders. Later, Estela moved to London to work with Brigitte Askonas (AAI ’77; d. 2013) at the National Institute for Medical Research (UK), where she gained expertise in the area of macrophages and antigen presentation and B cell physiology. Estela culminated her international tour of scientific interactions by serving at the New York University Medical Center as a fellow in the laboratory of Michael E. Lamm (AAI ’67), a leading authority on the mucosal immune system and the immunoglobulin IgA.

After returning to Argentina, Estela was very active as a scientist and teacher in La Cátedras de Biología Celular e Histología (1990–2001) and Fisiopatología (2001–2010), departments at her alma mater, UBA.

She was a founding member of the Sociedad Argentina de Inmunología and the Sociedad Argentina de Investigación Clínica. In addition to her membership in AAI, she was a member of the Society for Mucosal Immunology and the International Society of Developmental and Comparative Immunology. Her achievements were acknowledged by her peers in Argentina through appointment in 1982 as a CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas) principal investigator and thereafter, as a CONICET career investigator, in recognition of her steady progress and contributions to academia and science. Her additional career honors included election to membership in the New York Academy of Sciences and appointment to the Groupe d’Étude et de Recherche sur la Malnutrition. Funders of her early-career fellowship awards included the Bovisio Foundation, Dorothy Lee Foundation, and Arthritis Foundation.

Estela’s many contributions to science and society include her more than 120 original articles in refereed journals and over 200 presentations at scientific meetings, along with the mentoring of 13 doctoral candidates and participation as a doctoral thesis juror on behalf of over 30 others. In her later years, Estela pursued an expanding interest in the area of immunonutrition and, despite developing difficulties in walking, continued working in the laboratory and classroom until just days before her death.

With Estela’s passing, the AAI and science in general lose an indefatigable explorer of nature who aimed at elucidating mechanisms of immunological processes and at finding solutions to diseases associated with immune system dysfunction.    To the many in scientific circles and beyond whose lives she touched, Estela was a treasured and unforgettable friend.

She is survived by her sisters Teresa and Marta and their families, which include Estela’s numerous and beloved nieces and nephews. She was remembered at a memorial ceremony in Buenos Aires on June 19.