July 14, 2000

VUMC mourns loss of noted scientist, educator Mary Gray

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Mary Gray, Ph.D.

VUMC mourns loss of noted scientist, educator Mary Gray

Mary Phillips Edmonds Gray, Ph.D., and Vanderbilt University Medical Center were nearly inseparable.

Not only did the Professor of Experimental Pathology, Emerita, study here, receiving her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the School of Medicine, she also spent her entire professional career here after joining the faculty in 1941.

And long before she roamed the halls of the Department of Pathology as a dedicated educator and tenacious researcher, she roamed the halls of Vanderbilt Hospital as an inquisitive child while it was being built in the early 1920s.

Dr. Gray, who died earlier this week at the age of 86, was remembered not just for the amount of time she spent at Vanderbilt, but for what she did with it.

"Over the years she worked and published with many of Vanderbilt's most distinguished investigators, who also considered her a dear colleague," said Dr. Doyle G. Graham, professor and chair of Pathology. "She was a wonderful morphologist and a dedicated teacher. She was a warm and nurturing influence for generations of Ph.D. students and she will be greatly missed."

Larry L. Swift, Ph.D., professor of Pathology, echoed those sentiments.

"She was a remarkable woman; an outstanding teacher, mentor, scientist, colleague and friend," Swift said. "She taught us all so much and truly exemplified what an academic scientist should be.

"She was a role model for many of us, and she will be truly missed."

Dr. Gray personified dedication to teaching and research, continuing to work four days a week up until this spring, 15 years after being awarded emerita status.

"She was one of those marvelous people from the old days who made the transition to newer times," said Dr. Virgil S. LeQuire, professor of Experimental Pathology, Emeritus, who studied under, and later collaborated with Dr. Gray.

"Her talent was her ability to look through a microscope and tell you exactly what was going on and why. She was a spark in the laboratory and kept everyone happy and inspired. As an educator, her influence, besides her considerable personal charms, was felt by generations of students and is reflected in their accomplishments," LeQuire said.

Dr. Gray collaborated with LeQuire in studies on fat embolism both with human and animal models. She investigated the effects of diet and endothelial injury in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and took part in studies of Bartter's syndrome.

Later, she collaborated extensively with her close friend and colleague Dr. Mildred T. Stahlman, professor of Pediatrics, who was also one of her early students. This research focused on the lung development of newborn and premature infants.

Born in Evanston, Ill., in 1914, Dr. Gray began her association with Vanderbilt in 1932 when she enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences. She completed her B.A. degree in Biology and Chemistry in 1935 and her Ph.D. in Anatomy in 1940. In 1966 she became an Assistant Professor of Pathology.

Survivors include three sons, Harry Edward Gray III of Providence, R.I.; Bill Gray of Nashville; and Owen Edmonds Gray of Goodlettsville.

A memorial service will be held in Dr. Gray's honor on Monday, July 17 at 3 p.m. in Benton Chapel.