New insights on heparin as a treatment for cardiovascular disease. The effects of estrogen on brain damage. The role of watersheds and erosion in the evolution of the earth’s landscape. Lehigh graduate students and faculty are exploring a host of new knowledge and ideas in the department of biological sciences and earth and environmental sciences, thanks to the research funding and opportunities made possible by Majorie Nemes.
Marjorie earned both a master of science degree and Ph.D. in bacteriology from Lehigh University. She grew up just beyond the campus in Fountain Hill and received her diploma in nursing from St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1942. She also earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Lebanon Valley College in 1945.
Marjorie worked at the Rockefeller Institute, taught at the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, and was a supervisor at Merck and Company. While at the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research, she was part of a research team that discovered that if interferons, a natural human protein, were stimulated to increase in the body, they would have the potential to prevent viruses and the common cold. The team’s research was documented in Newsweek and Time magazines. Marjorie was also a bio-medical consultant to hospitals and nursing homes and worked on the National Cancer Project at the Franklin Institute. Upon retiring from Merck, she spent several years counseling troubled youth during the midnight shift at Northwestern Hospital, now the Northwestern Institute of Psychiatry.
An avid traveler into retirement, she made several treks to the Arctic and was part of a scientific expedition to the South Pole. When possible, she made bi-annual trips to the Amazon and Peruvian rainforests to collect plants for medicinal purposes and study rare birds. She credited her Lehigh biology professor, Fran Trembley, as kindling her interest in ecology, saying, “He was studying ecology when no one knew what the word meant.”
Marjorie was a generous benefactor of Lehigh University and was a member of the Asa Packer Society and Tower Society, Lehigh’s leadership giving societies. In support of graduate research, in 1983 she established the Marjorie M. Nemes Fellowship in the department of biological sciences. This fellowship supports graduate students who have demonstrated excellence in research and have made significant progress towards their Ph.D. In addition, she made a generous provision for Lehigh through her estate plans. Her bequest provided the funds to create the Francis J. Trembley Chair in earth and environmental sciences and also a new fellowship in her name to support a graduate student to assist the Trembley chair within that department.
In 1992, Lehigh University awarded Marjorie the Learning and Leadership Award for her commitment to education and research development.
Marjorie passed away on May 22, 2013.