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In Memoriam: Brett Lindenbach, PhD

December 20, 2023

Brett Lindenbach, PhD, associate professor of microbial pathogenesis and of comparative medicine at Yale School of Medicine, died on December 16, 2023. He was 55. He had endured glioblastoma and its treatments (both standard and investigational) for 20 months.

Lindenbach grew up in the Chicago area and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. After earning his PhD in immunology at Washington University in St. Louis, he conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Rockefeller University. Working with Charles Rice, PhD, Lindenbach developed the first robust cell culture model of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). This advance and its accompanying insights led to the powerful new antiviral drugs that are now used to cure this virus. In 2006, he joined the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis at Yale School of Medicine. His work has illuminated host and viral factors that promote HCV infection and has provided fundamental insights into the pathogenicity of diverse flaviviruses including Zika, and coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV2. In addition to his research accomplishments, he wrote the most extensive and high-impact reviews and books on RNA viruses and was a dedicated and talented teacher.

He collaborated extensively and generously with his colleagues at Yale. For example, he continued his studies on HCV together with colleagues in Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology and Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, elucidating structures and mechanisms of the machinery that replicates HCV and related viruses. He was a lead contributor of a consortium with investigators from the departments of Comparative Medicine (where he held secondary appointment), Neuroscience, Immunobiology, and Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences during the 2016 Zika virus crisis, which delivered several key publications with immediate translational relevance. He continued his crucial input to collaborative studies during the COVID pandemic to better understand fundamental principles of SARS-CoV-2 infection from the start of the pandemic. He worked closely with colleagues at Yale from both clinical (Internal Medicine, Laboratory Medicine, Pathology), basic science departments (Immunobiology, Comparative Medicine, Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology), and the School of Public Health. His selfless teamwork in these endeavors to promote discoveries that solve critical health issues will be part of his legacy as a great scientist and as a companionate human being. Colleagues celebrate Lindenbach's contributions to fostering a growing virology research community at Yale and remember him as an inspiring teacher, mentor, and colleague.

Lindenbach is survived by his wife, Joanna Bloom, his daughters, Molly and Claire, his mother, Laurel Lindenbach, and his sisters, Kristen Diamond, Lauren Lindenbach, and Lindsay Lindenbach. He was a recipient of the Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance’s June Rice Courage Award in 2022, and demonstrated true courage in facing the challenges of brain cancer.

Submitted by Robert Forman on December 20, 2023