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Memorial service held for scientists killed in crash

By Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, 09/16/98

BALTIMORE - Two world-renowned scientists who died in the crash of Swissair Flight III were remembered Wednesday as "heroes of public health'' who fought to find a cure for AIDS.

Two hundred family members, friends and colleagues crowded an auditorium at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health to say good-bye to Dr. Mary Lou Clements-Mann and her husband, Dr. Jonathan Mann, both of Columbia, Md.

Hundreds of others watched the memorial service from four remote sites at the university.

Mann and Clements-Mann, both 51, were among 229 people killed Sept. 2 when the flight crashed in the Atlantic off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Clements-Mann was a virologist and founding director of the Center for Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins. Her husband founded the World Health Organization's AIDS program, and was one of the first scientists to bring the AIDS crisis to the world's attention. He was dean of the Health Science's School of Public Health at Allegheny University in Philadelphia, and had recently resigned his positions at the Harvard School of Public Health. The scientific community had long recognized that the two were outstanding scientists, but when they married they became a dynamic duo, said Dr. Alfred Sommer, dean of the school of public health.

"They were remarkable... heroes of public health,'' Sommer said. "They worked as a powerful team,'' in the fight to find an AIDS vaccine and protect the human dignity of people with the disease.

Anguish filled Dr. Myron M. Levine's voice as he spoke of Clements-Mann and their 19-year friendship. Levine, director of the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said Clements-Mann was a leader in AIDS vaccine clinical research, doggedly persistent with high standards.

While the two complemented each other perfectly, they never bragged about their accomplishments. If anything, the couple preferred to focus on their colleague's accomplishments.

"Mary Lou and Jon were kindred ... in their belief the world would be made a better place,'' Levine said.

Lawrence O. Gostin told those gathered that he first met Mann in 1986 in Geneva in a cramped office that was to become the World Health Organization's AIDS program.

Under Mann's leadership, the program grew to 280 people with a $100 million budget in four years, said Gostin, a professor at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins.

Mann's greatest legacy was how he mobilized the world against AIDS and fought for the dignity of people with the disease, Gostin said.

"It is difficult to describe Jon's pure humanity,'' he said.

Few people touched the world the way they did, Levine said.

"A precious few stay awhile and leave indelible prints on our hearts and we are never the same. So it was with Mary Lou and Jonathan.''


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