Matthieu F. Mescher | Obituaries

Matthew F. Mescher, immunology icon at the University of Minnesota, died on December 21, 2021 of cancer.

Matt was born March 22, 1948 in South Haven to George and Dixie Mescher. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Hope College in Holland and a doctorate. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University. He then joined the Harvard faculty before joining the Molecular Biology Institute in La Jolla, California. In 1993, he joined the University of Minnesota (UMN) where he served as a professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology for 22 years. . His research achievements were recognized by his election to the UMN Academy of Excellence in Health Research and the President’s Symposium of the American Association of Immunologists.

Matt was a transformational leader in immunology at UMN. He was tasked with revitalizing the community which lacked national identity and was geographically dispersed over a large campus. He helped form a small group of faculty members, from several departments at UMN, who successfully formed a new graduate program and immunology center, with Matt as director. Under Matt’s direction, the Center for Immunology acquired contiguous lab space for a multidepartmental group of faculty members. In his calm and confident manner, Matt led the Center to become one of UMN’s strongest academic units and one of the nation’s leading immunology programs. His contribution to science will remain vital through the Center for Immunology and the ongoing research of its many trainees.

Matt was very well read, thoughtful, and intrigued by all kinds of people and ideas. He had a great sense of humor and loved life – he plotted his rounds of golf and races, raced his Corvette, played the violin and quoted poetry. He loved the natural world, especially insects and snakes, to the delight of his grandchildren. As the oldest of four siblings, Matt learned leadership skills early on, loved his family, and was cherished by his siblings. Matt adored his wife and daughters and they adore him.

Matt’s legacy will live on through his remarkable and unpretentious influence on family, friends, colleagues and the many people he has met in a life well lived. He was a kind and gentle soul who will be sadly missed.

Matt is predeceased by his parents Dixie and George and his brother Phil. He is survived by Karen, his high school girlfriend and wife of 52 years who resides in Chester, Maryland; two daughters, Molly Kathryn Mescher of Baltimore, Maryland and Cassandra Lynn McKay (Ryan) of Severna Park, Maryland; two grandchildren, Evelyn and Tate McKay; a nephew Mike Mescher of New York, NY; a niece Alexandra Jolly of Blowing Rock, North Carolina and her siblings Mary Mescher and Ben Mescher (Cindy), both residing in Chester, Maryland.

Memorial contributions can be made to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Immunology: Mescher Trainee Enhancement Fund, either online at or by check written to UMF with Dr. Mescher / Mescher Fund in the memo line and sent to: UMF, PO Box 860233, Minneapolis, MN 55486-0266.

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