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NEAL C. BIRNBERG


1954 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
NEAL C. BIRNBERG Obituary
BIRNBERG, Neal C. Father, husband, brother, mentor and dear friend to many, passed away peacefully at home in Lexington, Massachusetts on April 27, 2014. He was the son of Felice Rosenkranz Birnberg and Walt Birnberg, both survivors of the Holocaust who immigrated to the Bronx, New York to start a new life. Neal was born there on October 21, 1954. Along with his sister Jill, he grew up among a loving circle of family and friends in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Neal attended college at Tufts University, graduating with a B.S. in Chemistry in 1976. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Oregon in 1981, hold a post-doctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute in San Diego, California, and serve as an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at Yale Medical School, where he was recognized for his teaching and pioneering research in bioscience. After serving as a principal scientific officer in several successful startups, Neal, along with a group of academic and entrepreneurial colleagues, founded Mercury Therapeutics, Inc. in 1996. He served as its CEO and Chief Scientist until this year. The company has been an international leader in the development of AMP Kinase activators as therapeutic agents. Neal was a visionary in seeing the connection between these therapeutic agents, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, and cancer, and his path-breaking work continues to offer significant hope for effective treatments. While in San Diego, Neal married Janet Stork and became the proud father of Andrew and Catie. While the marriage ended, Neal remained a friend of the Stork family and a devoted father to Andrew and Catie. Neal began dating his loving wife Jean in the Boston area in 1994, and they married in 1996. Their two sons, Adam and Charlie, became a great source of joy. Neal encouraged, coached and cheered them on through school and sports, and as they became Bar Mitzvahs. Neal, Jean, Andrew, Catie, Adam and Charlie spent many wonderful weeks travelling together to places as far-flung as Costa Rica, the Virgin Islands, and Israel, and as nearby as their home in Wellfleet. Neal also spent many happy hours at home in Lexington in front of the wood-stove, which he loved to stoke throughout the winter. He leaves a legacy of intellectual curiosity, passion for learning and deep respect for family. He was at the same time incredibly courageous and profoundly sentimental. Neal Birnberg is survived by his wife Jean Levitt Birnberg and their sons Adam and Charlie of Lexington, Massachusetts; his daughter Catie Birnberg of Santa Cruz, California; his son Andrew Birnberg of Berkeley, California; and his sister Jill Birnberg Perry of Seattle, Washington. He was the fond uncle of his nieces and nephews Frankie, Will, Daniel, Laura, Ellie, Anna and Jenny. His memory is cherished by a large extended family and many friends. Funeral services will be held at 11 am on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at Temple Isaiah, 55 Lincoln Street in Lexington, with a burial to follow at the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to Tufts University, 80 George Street, Medford MA 02155, with a notation that the gift is in memory of Neal Birnberg. Levine Chapels, Brookline www.levinechapels.com 617-277-8300
Published in The Boston Globe on Apr. 29, 2014
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