Immunologist and virologist Thomas Hodge III died on July 31 due to complications of COVID-19. He was 69. According to The Washington Post, Hodge was medically ineligible to be vaccinated against the disease.
Born and raised in Gainesville, Georgia, Hodge graduated from Emory University in nearby Atlanta in 1974, where he double-majored in biology and chemistry, according to his CV. He received his PhD in immunology from East Tennessee State University College of Medicine in 1982.
After graduation, he worked as an assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Medicine for four years, before leaving to join the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hodge was the section chief of molecular immunology in the division of HIV/AIDS pathogenesis at the CDC until 1993 when he took over as the division’s director of the immunogenetics laboratory, where he stayed until 2005.
After leaving the CDC, Hodge became a senior research scientist at the University of Georgia’s veterinary school. Beginning in 2008, he spent two years as the chief scientific officer at Zirus, Inc., an Atlanta-based biotech firm. For the last decade or so, he served as a consultant for various other biotech companies, both international and domestic.
According to Hodge’s CV, his was among the first labs to adopt PCR for tissue typing, siRNA for viral pathology, high-throughput rapid DNA sequencing, and gene-trap technology. He coauthored more than 100 papers during his life and also filed patents related to specific cell lines, techniques for treating certain illnesses, and methods for identifying pathogenic proteins.
Early in 2020, the Post reports, Hodge decided to eschew retirement and cofounded the CrisiScience Collective, providing a space for researchers studying SARS-CoV-2 to connect and collaborate. Infected with the virus that same year, he later expressed hope that his bout with COVID-19 would protect him from contracting it again, as he couldn’t be vaccinated for medical reasons. But he again developed symptoms of COVID-19 in July 2021. Even from his hospital bed, days before he passed, he met with other scientists he was collaborating with via Zoom.
Hodge is survived by his wife of 40 years, Cathy, with whom he had four daughters and six grandchildren. His six-year-old granddaughter Izzy died of kidney cancer mere hours after Hodge passed away.