By Lynn McCain

In Memoriam
David O. Ferguson, MD, PhD
June 11, 1966 – January 6, 2024

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of David O. Ferguson, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology. David passed away suddenly at the age of 57 on Saturday, January 6, 2024. He is survived by his wife, Dr. JoAnn Sekiguchi (Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Human Genetics, University of Michigan Medical School), their daughter, Brianna, and his brother, Peter Ferguson of HendersoFerguson_David_2011 sq 500.jpgn, NV.

David joined the Department of Pathology as an Assistant Professor in 2003 from Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, where he completed his Pathology residency and postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Frederick Alt. He met his wife, JoAnn, as graduate students at Weill Cornell Medical School in New York City. They worked in Dr. Alt’s laboratory together. Since coming to the Department of Pathology, David received the University of Michigan Medical School's Biomedical Scholars Program Award (2003), the Scholars Award from the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research (2004) and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar Award (2009). He was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 2012.

David’s research focused on the roles of DNA repair in resisting cancer and infection. Through his research, he was able to identify previously unknown functions of the MRN complex, illuminate mechanisms of disease and provide avenues for future therapeutic intervention. David authored 50 peer-reviewed publications, including studies appearing in high impact journals. Sixteen of these publications were written in collaboration with his wife, JoAnn. In addition, David provided clinical service in molecular pathology and worked on test development for the department’s Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory. He was a beloved teacher and mentor for medical students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in his laboratory and provided didactic teaching for several graduate courses in pathology. He was active on program committees, advisory boards, and curriculum committees for graduate programs including the Program in Biological Sciences, Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program, Medical Scientist Training Pathway, Cancer Biology Graduate Program, and the Millie Schembechler Adrenal Cancer Program.

David was a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association for Molecular Pathology, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology and Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society.

"It was a privilege to work alongside David through all aspects of our professional lives - research, clinical, and teaching. He had a very keen scientific mind, unwavering dedication, and great compassion for patients and trainees," recalls colleague Dr. Tom Wilson. "Outside of work, David was from a musical family, including the famous Maynard Ferguson. David was an avid hockey player, an interest he shared with his father and daughter." “David was never one to draw attention to himself. He encouraged others, mentored students, and worked diligently at his research and clinical service without any fanfare,” Dr. Charles Parkos, Chair of Pathology, reflected. “David was an excellent speaker and was gifted at teaching others how to effectively communicate to audiences. He possessed strong teaching skills and could teach residents how to perform molecular testing and teach students in his lab how to conduct scientifically rigorous experiments with considerable expertise. He was a colleague who was always willing to give a hand and help others. He will truly be missed in the Department.” 

With our deepest sympathy, 

Chuck Charles (“Chuck”) Parkos, MD, PhD, 
Carl V. Weller Professor and Chair