Today I’ve heard about the death of my biochemistry professor Gheorghe Jebeleanu (Cluj, Romania). This post is only a short note with thoughts about this professor, scientist and great human being.
I first heard about him from my elder brother when he began his medical studies in one of the best medical schools in Romania (now University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Iuliu Hatieganu” Cluj Napoca). Affectionatedly called “Jebi” by his students, Prof. Jebeleanu was not considered by many as a good biochemistry professor for 1st year students. Mostly because his lectures were ever changing while he tried to add the most up to date information and to deliver it to the younger fellows. Jebi was clearly lacking an oratoric talent and was quite annoyed by mediocricy. He was passionated by genetics and molecular biology at times in which most of his colleagues had no idea what all these new ‘molecular’ concepts were all about.
While I knew he existed in the Department of Biochemistry, it was only in 1993 that I had the occasion to have long scientific discussions with Prof. Jebeleanu, while we were both attending a Summer school of molecular biology in Sibiu. I came to greatly appreciate his profound knowledge of biology and his passion for science and research. A few years later, he arranged for me an 8 months stay in genetics and biochemistry laboratories in Paris and pushed me to follow a scientific career. I was very happy to be one of his young colleagues in the Biochemistry department from 1997 to 1998 and we met on every occasion when I happened to be in Cluj in the last 11 years. We regularly exchanged e-mails and talked from time to time by phone. Even at 70, he was still a very active science reader and I was happy to help him get recent reviews on new DNA sequencing technologies and the revolution that is underway in biology right now.
Unfortunately, ilness strikes randomly. Even the greatest minds and most moral personalities can not fight against severe disease. Jebi will live in my memories and, I believe, in the memories of many former students as an exceptionally bright person of superior intelligence and innate kindness. I owe him a lot. So long, my teacher and friend….