DAVID TUCKCHOW YUE (1957-2014)
David Tuckchow Yue was born in Midland, Michigan, on February 13th, 1957. The first US-born member of his family, David grew up in sunny southern California and attended Pacific Palisades high school. In SoCal, he developed a love of science and technology, becoming a licensed ham radio operator at 11 years old. As he grew older, he began his own television and electronics repair business, operated out of the Yue family’s Brentwood Hills home. David also started a band, in which he played keyboard.
After high school, David set out on his own, without a winter coat, to the cold northeast and attended Harvard University, eventually graduating Magna Cum Laude with a concentration in Biochemistry. While at University, David developed his love of music by working as a Deejay, setting up sound systems and running events for other clubs on campus. David then earned his MD and PhD (in Biomedical Engineering) from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he met Nancy, the love of his life, with whom he would eventually start a family and raise three sons (Michael, Daniel, and Jonathan). His subsequent career led him to become a full professor and the director of the Calcium Signals Laboratory, teaching the infamous Systems Bioengineering course to undergraduates at Johns Hopkins.
An acclaimed biophysicist, biomedical engineer and molecular neuro-/cardiac physiologist, David became a world leader in understanding calcium signaling the heart and brain. Described as a joyful teacher, David trained generations of cutting-edge scientists. He was beloved by his students and colleagues alike for his ability to present complex concepts in an understandable, compelling way. David was also recognized for his teaching ability by his colleagues and students: He received the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award. In addition to his scientific work, David was passionate about ministry, especially as it related to reconciling science and his faith, and was an active member and teacher at Grace Fellowship Church in Timonium, MD. He also was a talented musician, regularly playing music late into the night. He passed away on December 23rd, 2014 from sudden cardiac arrest.
Dr. David Yue was a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He was a biophysicist, biomedical engineer and molecular physiologist who investigated fluctuating calcium (Ca2+) levels within neurons and cardiac myocytes. Dr. Yue served as the co-director of the Ph.D. program in biomedical engineering.
His laboratory is pushing the frontiers of Ca2+ signaling research, combining chemical biology, FRET imaging of genetically encoded optical sensors, high-resolution electrophysiology and computational biology. His research team discovered how the calcium sensor protein calmodulin can gauge both the local and global flow of calcium, which can lead to the understanding of neural diseases.
Dr. Yue received his undergraduate degree in biochemical science from Harvard University. He earned his Ph.D. and M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. His work has been recognized with the 2011 Kenneth S. Cole Award from the Biophysical Society.
To: School of Medicine faculty, staff and students
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine lost a beloved friend, colleague and teacher on Tuesday, Dec. 23. David Yue, professor of biomedical engineering and neuroscience and co-director of the Ph.D. program in biomedical engineering, died suddenly from cardiac arrest.
Our sadness at David’s death is mixed with profound gratitude for his many contributions to Johns Hopkins and to the field of biomedical engineering. An acclaimed biophysicist, biomedical engineer and molecular neuro-/cardiac physiologist, David was recognized as a world leader in understanding calcium signaling in excitable cells, such as myocardial cells and neurons. He joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 1988, and his distinguished career at Johns Hopkins focused on discovering the underlying mysteries of electrical and calcium signals, the “molecular languages” within neurons and cardiac myocytes.
At the time of his death, David and his colleagues in the Calcium Signals Laboratory were pushing the frontiers of voltage and Ca2+ signaling research by combining chemical biology, FRET imaging of genetically encoded optical sensors, high-resolution electrophysiology and computational biology.
Not surprisingly, David’s work won national acclaim. Among his many honors, he received the Kenneth S. Cole Award from the Membrane Biophysics Subgroup of the Biophysical Society for his contributions to the field of cellular electrical signaling and the NIH/NHLBI MERIT award for Calmodulin/Ca channel physiology in heart, 2004-2014.
Described as a joyful teacher, David trained generations of cutting-edge scientists. He was beloved by his students and colleagues alike for his ability to present complex concepts in an understandable, compelling way. As students noted in an article about David in The JHU Gazette, "He transforms his lectures into something like a thriller movie—you don't want to miss a second of it. His lectures are 90-minute marvels covering the history, mechanisms and applications of ion channel study. The material excites him so much that it excites all of us." David was recognized for his teaching ability by his colleagues and students: He received the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award for the Whiting School of Engineering.
David also made significant contributions to the scientific literature, including many journal articles, and served on the editorial board for Biophysical Journal and as an editorial consultant for Journal of General Physiology, Journal of Physiology, Journal of Neuroscience, Science, Nature, Cell, Neuron, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Communications, and Journal of Biological Chemistry.
A 1979 graduate of Harvard University, David earned his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University in 1987. Upon receiving his combined Ph.D./M.D., David channeled his love of the process of discovery into a career in science.
The passion he brought to his work is eloquently reflected in a post David wrote some years ago titled, “The Privilege of Discovery”:
Every so often, the veil of confusing experimental results is parted, and something deep and beautiful about how biological life works is revealed. It is as if a syllable that God spoke becomes suddenly audible. The thrill of unearthing such 'God speak' is one of the special rewards of my profession.
Those of us fortunate enough to get to know David Yue treasured his thoughtfulness, collaborative spirit and remarkable record as an inspiring teacher and profoundly influential and innovative scientist.
Please join us in extending our sincerest condolences to his wife, Nancy and three sons, as well as to the extended Yue family.
Landon S. King, M.D.
Executive Vice Dean
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Elliot McVeigh, Ph.D.
Massey Professor and Director, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine