Today we received the very sad news that Professor Marleen Boelaert from the Department of Public Health passed away early this morning, Friday 12 June, at home in Herne. Though we knew she was unwell and on sick leave for over a year, this has nonetheless felt unexpected and sudden. In part because she was someone who was fighting and working to the end despite her sickness.
Marleen started to work at ITM on 1 September 1994 and became one of the pillars of the Institute. Colleagues who worked with her only have superlatives to describe her. She was able to combine subject matter depth yet have a broad, holistic and inclusive team approach to her work. Marleen was known for her ability to work across departmental, disciplinary, and diplomatic divides which resulted in a worldwide network of effective collaborations. This combination of science, vision and people skills fuelled her success – she published over 325 manuscripts, supervised 22 PhD students and mentored countless other students and staff. She also started the Master in Disease Control and introduced more methodological rigor. But this drive had a purpose and was largely propelled by a passion for social justice and equality.
Perhaps most importantly is that despite her critical rigour, she was kind, witty, a very good friend, and had deep personal and lifelong connections to many at ITM and in her extended network.
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