The Augusta area last weekend lost a great doctor, researcher, teacher and family man with the death of Dr. Jerry Buccafusco.
Buccafusco, the husband of Columbia County school board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco, died Saturday morning at his Evans home while surrounded by his family. He was diagnosed less than two weeks ago with advanced-stage liver and lung cancer.
Colleagues of Buccafusco, who was a Regents professor and the director of the Alzheimer's Center at Medical College of Georgia, said he will be greatly missed.
"I believe this is a huge loss for us," said Dr. William Caldwell, the chairman of the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department at the Medical College of Georgia, where Buccafusco also worked. "He was a great person and friend.
"He's certainly been an outstanding teacher and scientist throughout his career."
In addition to leading the way in innovative research of diseases relating to memory loss, the 60-year-old also had worked on medical isues related to substance abuse, his colleagues said.
"His research has really changed our understanding of diseases of memory loss and their treatment," Caldwell said. "He's been recognized by institutions and organizations all over the country for his work."
Buccafusco was the recipient of numerous honors, including The New Investigator Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 1980; the Distinguished Faculty Award for the Basic Sciences from the MCG School of Medicine in 1988; the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 1998; the Pharmacia-ASPET Award in Experimental Therapeutics in 2008; and the Veterans Administration Medical Center Career Research Scientist of the Year in 2008.
"He was always a big proponent of developing novel drugs for patients with Alzheimer's and memory disorders," said Dr. David Hess, the chairman of the Department of Neurology at MCG. "He was also a wonderful mentor."
At one time, Buccafusco served as chairman of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center's research committee.
"He did a lot of good for the Augusta and the Medical College of Georgia research community," said Hess, the co-director of the Brain and Behavior Discovery Institute, where he also worked with Buccafusco. "It's a big loss."
Buccafusco's reach wasn't just limited to his laboratory. At home, the husband and father always made time for his family and those in the neighborhood who needed his help, said Buccafusco's eldest son, Chris.
"He was really committed to his family and to seeing them flourish," he said. "He was really perfect at balancing all of these things that he did."
The avid sports fan was also a huge collector of comic books.
"He was a man of simple but deeply held pleasures," Chris Buccafusco said.
Funeral services were held Tuesday.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.