This communication celebrates the remarkable life of Jan Pfeffer: a diligent, dedicated, and hard-working scientist; a loving mother and wife; a warm and deeply caring student, friend, and colleague; and an unfatigable fighter of an unrelenting illness.
Janice M. Sikorski came to the University of Oklahoma in 1969 as a recent graduate of Rockford College with Marc A. Pfeffer, a graduate student in our Physiology Department. The chairman of that department asked me whether I had recruited a technician for my physiology laboratory, having just arrived at the medical school myself. I interviewed Jan, she immediately started in my laboratory, and that began my more than three-decade love and admiration for this remarkable woman. For seven years we worked together, laughed together, and were constantly excited together: Jan, Marc, and I. Jan ran the laboratory with care and a personal love of work.
After Marc completed his graduate work, Jan began her graduate work with tremendous commitment. She was a diligent scholar and a careful and precise scientist whose investigative work was never challenged and was always reproducible. She was proud of her inseparable scholarly productivity with her loving husband Marc, although most of her own work was independent. Her well-designed and independently conceived studies on the “Longitudinal Changes in Cardiac Function and Geometry During the Natural Development of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy in the Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat” stimulated and provided the scientific basis for its natural extension to the bedside: the Survival and Ventricular Enlargement (SAVE) trial. This careful and methodical study permitted the Pfeffers and the Braunwald team to coin the term and concept of remodeling. Indeed, although Jan provided no hands-on care for the patients of this now famous multicenter study, her input was as great as any of the participating clinical investigators, even to choosing the acronym SAVE. As we all know its initial report was among the 10 most highly cited reports in the medical literature of the 1990s. Thus, without the findings of her doctoral thesis, this clinical extension would not have been possible, and it provided the spark that ignited worldwide interest in the new form of angiotensin-converting enzyme treatment that has made the difference between life and death and between cardiac functional stability and failure and repeated myocardial infarction for countless patients having sustained the initial infarction.
Jan was a stalwart fighter in a war against a disease that returned again and again in its many forms to attack her. However, no battle in that war was lost until it returned in its final and most devastating form. Indeed, throughout the course of the disease, none of its challenges hindered her investigative productivity until her final months.
And, finally, Jan was a loving mother and wife. For seven exciting years, Jan and Marc were part of our family in Oklahoma. For the ensuing 24 years, like a proud mother and father of our first academic daughter, my wife and I continued to rejoice in their life as a family. We shared their happiness with the births of Katie and Mike, and we rejoice in her mentorship of many of you who are our contributing scientists and readers to Hypertension. Personally, I shall miss the critical input that she gave to the journal as an active member of our editorial board. Janice Pfeffer was a class act and is a remarkable role model for other committed women with dreams yet to be fulfilled.