Richard Hardy

AAI extends condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of prominent B cell biologist and molecular immunologist Randy R. Hardy, Ph.D. (AAI '96), a Fox Chase Cancer Center professor and researcher who died on May 29. For the past 29 years, Hardy served as a research scientist in blood cell development and function at Fox Chase’s Institute for Cancer Research. Among his survivors is his wife, Kyoko Hayakawa, M.D., Ph.D., AAI ’96, who was his Fox Chase colleague and long-time collaborator.

The following tribute was authored by Hardy colleagues David M. Allman, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania; Melvin J. Bosma, Ph.D., Fox Chase Cancer Center; Kerry S. Campbell, Ph.D., AAI ’92, Fox Chase Cancer Center; Timothy L. Manser, Ph.D., AAI ’88, Thomas Jefferson University; and David L. Wiest, Ph.D., AAI ’02, Fox Chase Cancer Center. AAI gratefully acknowledges the submission.
 
*   *   *   *   *   *

We are saddened by the sudden passing in May of Dr. Richard (Randy) Hardy due to complications of a recent illness. Randy was a renowned and highly respected B cell biologist, passionate scientist, and trusted colleague. His early training in chemistry at Illinois Institute of Technology and Ph.D. work at the California Institute of Technology provided him with a solid scientific foundation that he began applying to the field of immunology as a postdoctoral fellow with Len and Lee Herzenberg at Stanford University.

With a natural affinity for technology, Randy excelled in the Herzenberg lab, where he began characterizing surface markers on immune cells by applying the pioneering technique of fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) in the early 1980s. Indeed, while at Stanford, Randy was the first to generate and publish two- and three-color flow cytometry data. While at Stanford, Randy also met Kyoko Hayakawa, who became his lifelong research partner and wife. They subsequently worked in Dr. Tadamitsu Kishimoto’s laboratory at Osaka University in Japan, where Randy also became fluent at methods to isolate phycoerythrin from porphyra and where he perfected methods to conjugate phycoerythrin and related fluorochromes to antibodies, thus melding his background in chemistry with his interest in immune subsets. Soon afterward, Randy and Kyoko would use his phycoerythrin preparation to develop the first approach for characterizing antigen-specific memory B cells. This occurred just before their move to Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC) in Philadelphia in 1987, where they established their integrated research labs.

The arrival of Randy and Kyoko at FCCC cemented an outstanding team of B cell biologists at the Fox Chase campus that included Martin Weigert, Mark Shlomchik, and Mel Bosma. This highly collaborative group provided a
strong, intellectual core that drew a steady stream of visits from leading immunologists in the late 1980s and early 1990s. While concentrating his research on the B cell subset (he and Kyoko discovered CD5+ B-1 B cells at Stanford), Randy also began systematically defining the various stages of mouse B lymphocyte development in the bone marrow, leading to the characterization of the now well-known “Hardy fractions.”

From nearby Princeton, Tim Manser regularly visited Randy at the time to get his “fix” of B cell biology. Tim found Randy’s sage advice particularly insightful, as both had been trained in molecular biology and chemistry before
embarking on careers in immunology. Their mutually beneficial interactions included bouncing ideas back and forth and discussing the significance of their own data and recent publications in the B cell field. When Tim moved to a closer location at Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) in Philadelphia, Randy and several of his FCCC colleagues were appointed as adjunct faculty members in the Microbiology and Immunology Department at TJU. This eventually led to the acquisition of an NIH-funded T32 Training Program in Developmental Immunology, jointly hosted by both institutions. Randy played a key role in supporting the T32, which catalyzed extensive interactions among the preceptors at TJU and FCCC. Every few months for many years, the two groups would get together to hear presentations from trainees and preceptors and to just “chew the immunological fat,” with Randy routinely at the center of discussions.

Randy Hardy was a wonderful colleague at Fox Chase, where he played a strong, intellectual role and fostered a number of productive collaborations. His impressive expertise with FACS naturally led to his early appointment as director of the FCCC Cell Sorting Core Facility to support the needs of the local research community. His deep understanding of the technology enabled him not only to procure state-of-the-art, custom-made equipment but also to optimize and align lasers constantly, beta test and share the latest data analysis programs, and develop a sophisticated laboratory information management system for long-term data storage. Indeed, during the late 1990s, Randy personally modified the FACStar Plus cell sorter at FCCC so that it could analyze five (rather than the then-customary four) colors. All users of the facility were the beneficiaries of his incredible skill, as he generously and without hesitation advised, trained, or assisted anyone who asked about their flow cytometry experiments. Randy later directed the FCCC DNA Sequencing Facility, which he also kept equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology and reliable service, and he proficiently served as leader of the immunology program at FCCC for many years.

Randy maintained a passion for discovery throughout his long career. He continually produced seminal findings, each of which portended an exciting new chapter in his scientific career—a career that had already had a tremendous impact on our understanding of B cell development. Together with Kyoko, he had succeeded not only in identifying B-1 B cells but also through the years, proceeded to unravel the mysteries of their generation, discovering that their development was only possible in the context of the fetal hematopoietic program, that their generation depended on B cell receptor autoreactivity, and that these cells ultimately serve as the precursors to chronic lymphocytic leukemia. All of these findings set the stage for the next phase of his work, which focused on the molecular circuitry required to elaborate the B-1 B cell differentiation program. Shortly before his illness, he succeeded in identifying both a key transcription factor and a key signaling molecule required forthe fetal development of B-1 B cells, which finally promised to enable the molecular dissection of the pathways that are particular for production of the B-1 subset of B cells.

When approaching Randy with a question or matter to discuss, one could generally find him in his office, fixated on his computer screen, analyzing multi-colored contour maps of FACS data. Actually getting to his office required negotiating an obstacle course of lab carts and equipment, perhaps deliberatively set, as Randy valued his privacy—although his office door was always open. After clearing his guest chair of papers and journals, he would always engage in a lively scientific discussion with a dramatic backdrop of several colorful saltwater fish swimming in a large tank next to his desk. He was well versed in the literature, and his input was always insightful and appreciated at weekly Immunology Journal Club meetings. In addition to his hobby of saltwater fish, he had lifelong loves of family life, music, photography and Apple products. He was constantly a step ahead in using the latest Apple device or program, which was always on display in his many captivating research presentations over the years.

As rumors of Randy’s decline in health over the past year began to circulate among the scientific community in Philadelphia, most discounted them with the expectation that he surely would continue to contribute to the field for many years to come. After all, he was an outstanding and energetic middle-aged leader in the field of B cell immunobiology, who had been incredibly productive over a more than 30-year career. Concerns spread, however, as his absences became more frequent—he was no longer present to fulfill his insightful debating role at Immunology Journal Club, postponed his annual faculty research seminar, and asked for a substitute to present his classic primary B cell development lecture in the TJU Basic Immunology Course. In reflecting on his death, it is heartbreaking for us to accept that we have forever lost cherished scientific discussions with a brilliant colleague and friend whose resilience in science we mistakenly presumed would enable him to triumph over his illness. He will be sorely missed.
 
* * * * * *

Along with Dr. Hayakawa, survivors of Dr. Hardy include their daughter Naomi L. Hardy; his sister Susanne Hardy Nolan (Paul); niece Marjorie D. Nolan; and nephew William B. Nolan. Memorial contributions may be sent to Fox Chase Cancer Center, Institutional Advancement Office, 333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111.