Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In Memoriam:
UNO Biology Professor Stanley Leibo

Stanley LeiboStanley Leibo shown in October 2013 at a cryopreservation course in Monterotondo, Italy. (Courtesy: Jane Farley)

Stanley Leibo passed away on March 25  at the age of 77 following a battle with melanoma cancer. Leibo has been a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences since 1999 and a pioneering researcher in cryobiology. His expertise involved freezing cells and tissues without damaging their contents.

For the last 50 years, Leibo studied the low temperature biology of embryos, cells, tissues and viruses. In 1972, working with researchers David Whittingham and Peter Mazur. Leibo helped derive a method to successfully freeze mouse embryos in ultra-cold temperatures. When researchers thawed and transferred the embryos into foster mothers, the embryos developed into normal live pups. That original research on embryo cryopreservation, together with methods of in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, has been extended to more than 30 mammalian species, including humans. Millions of children and live animals have since been produced from cryopreserved embryos.

Leibo published more than 100 articles and book chapters and mentored many graduate students. When he was honored with the Pioneer Award from the International Embryo Transfer Society in 2009, he was described as "indisputably one of the best, and best known, cryobiologists."

In addition to being a world-renowned researcher, Leibo also taught a number of courses at UNO including human biology for non-majors, reproductive biology and developmental biology. He always exhibited a willingness to meet with individual students who were struggling in his human biology course for non-majors, even if that meant doing it on nights or weekends. Leibo's humility belied his enormous impact on the field of cryobiology—students were amazed to learn that his experiments helped couples conceive using in vitro fertilization.

He is survived by his daughter, Beth, and son, Jonathan.

A memorial service will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23 in the University Center Room 211. There will be refreshments and an opportunity to share good memories about Dr. Leibo. His daughter, Beth will be in attendance. A private memorial service will be held in Houston on Friday, April 5. Leibo will be posthumously awarded the 2014 College of Sciences Undergraduate Teaching Award at the College of Sciences Honors Convocation next month.

A website has been set up to accept donations for the Stanley P. Leibo Memorial Award for outstanding students in Cell and Developmental Biology.

I want to give to the Stanley P. Leibo Memorial Award.