The Passing of Constantin Bona, MD, PhD
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Posted by: Andrew Law
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our former colleague, Constantin A. Bona, MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS). Dr. Bona joined the Mount Sinai faculty in 1979 and had an impressive, decades-long career as an immunologist, researcher and internationally recognized educator and scholar.
Dr. Bona, who died Tuesday, December 22, earned his medical degree in 1958 from the Faculty of Medicine in Bucharest, Romania. After completing an internship at Bucharest University, he became interested in basic immunology, leading the Immunochemistry Laboratory in Romania’s Cantacuzino National Institute of Research-Development for Microbiology and Immunology. In 1968, he left communist Romania for Paris where he earned his PhD from the University of Paris, after which he worked for several years at the Pasteur Institute. In 1977, Dr. Bona joined the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, and was eventually offered a position at Mount Sinai as an Associate Professor of Microbiology. Constantly active and curious, he was a Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984, and at Kyoto University in 1996 – 1997. In 2011, Dr. Bona was appointed Professor Emeritus of Microbiology at ISMMS. He received two doctor honoris causa degrees and was a Member of the Romanian Academy.
Dr. Bona’s most important scientific contributions include the discovery of the first human B cell mitogen from Nocardia (a gram-positive bacterial species) and the first demonstration of anti-fibrillin-1 autoantibodies associated with scleroderma. He also characterized regulatory idiotypes and was first in showing that bacterial polysaccharides could be mimicked by anti-idiotypic antibodies. He first generated chimeric immunoglobulin (IgG) molecules containing viral epitopes and demonstrated the possibility to circumvent the unresponsiveness to vaccines of neonates by immunization with naked DNA (the latter together with Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, PhD). During recent years Dr. Bona studied (with an intensity – a style well recognized by his colleagues) the molecular mechanisms which contribute to the tight skin (TSK) syndrome in mice. This mouse model shows a scleroderma-like phenotype that he hoped would help him to identify the gene(s) responsible for scleroderma in humans.
Dr. Bona published more than 400 papers in peer-reviewed journals, dozens of chapters in textbooks and monographs, and authored or edited five books. He will be remembered by many grateful students and postdoctoral fellows who shared his scientific path over the years. His late wife, Alexandra Dimitriu-Bona, MD, PhD, also worked in science and served as Director of the Laboratory of Clinical Immunopathology at Mount Sinai.
Throughout his career, Dr. Bona was a sought-after speaker at many conferences and symposia, and taught many national and international courses. He was a valued citizen in the scientific community, working tirelessly to review submitted manuscripts, working on grant study sections, and serving as a member for prize award committees. He also served on several Scientific Boards for commercial entities.
We extend our deepest sympathy to his daughter, Monique Bona, Esq., and her family. We will remember Dr. Bona with fondness and profound gratitude for his many years of service at Mount Sinai.