Dr. Steven Wechsler passed away Sunday, June 12, 2016. He typed fast and loved deeply.
Written by Dr. Bert Semler & Dr. Nigel W. Fraser
Steve had been a faculty member at UCI since 2002, where he was a Professor of Ophthalmology and the Director of Virology Research in the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute. He had a joint appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and was a member of the UCI Center for Virus Research for the past decade. Steve was trained in the molecular virology of RNA viruses (measles) in Bernie Fields’ lab at Harvard Medical. Subsequently, he was an independent investigator at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where he began working on the molecular mechanisms of herpes simplex virus latency and reactivation.
This turned out to be his career-long research focus, and he made numerous seminal discoveries related to the anti-apoptotic role of the herpes virus latency associated transcript (LAT) and the mapping of the LAT promoter within the herpes simplex virus genomic DNA. He also carried out detailed studies on the expression of different herpes virus glycoproteins and their roles as vaccine immunogens for a protective immune response. His more recent studies focused on animal models for in vivo reactivation of herpes virus infections and defining the immune response to such reactivation events. During his career, Steve published more than 150 peer-reviewed papers. Equally impressive was his continuous research funding from NIH during the last three decades.
As a person, Steve was known to be very generous, warm, and kind. He enjoyed watching sports and was an active golfer in his earlier days. He loved playing poker and was known in the Department of Ophthalmology for organizing many poker parties at his home. These parties served as important social events and were great team building experiences for his lab and department colleagues. Not only is Steve’s passing a great loss for his family and friends but also for the scientific community at UCI and across the country.