In Remembrance: Charles A. Marotta ’75PhD Died on January 30 2020

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Charles A. Marotta, MD, PhD, passed away on January 31, 2020, at the age of 74 after a long illness. He was born on April 12, 1945, in Bronx, New York, to Angelina Brancato Marotta and Nunzio Marotta.

Charles graduated from the City College of New York at the age of 20, before attending Duke Medical School and Yale University (1975) to earn his MD and PhD in molecular biophysics, respectively. At Yale, he worked with Drs. Sherman Weissman and Bernard Forget, and collaborated with others, including Nobel prize winner David Baltimore, to sequence the hemoglobin gene whose mutations cause hematological diseases such as beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease. After his clinical training, he joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School, rising to positions of associate professor and chief of psychiatry research. At McLean Hospital, he helped establish what is now known as the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center. In 1984, he testified before Congress as an expert witness at Senator Al Gore’s 1984 hearing on Alzheimer’s disease and served as an advisor to the World Health Organization. At the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), he was responsible for building a new Alzheimer’s research laboratory in the historic Bulfinch Building. While at MGH, he and his colleagues were among the first to develop a monoclonal antibody to beta amyloid, the protein implicated in plaque formation in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, and to conceive of its potential as a diagnostic and therapeutic agent. His pioneering work in neuroscience and Alzheimer’s disease research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the MacArthur and McKnight Foundations, and others. 

In 1992, Charles accepted a professorship at Brown University Medical School in neuroscience, psychiatry, and human behavior. He received an honorary degree from Brown in 1994 and had the privilege of serving as head of the honorary degree committee under Brown president Varten Gregorian. Following his academic career, he served as director, US & Global Medical Outcomes and Health Economics, at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals in the areas of cerebrovascular and neurological disorders. He devoted his final years in the field to helping international scientists publish their work in leading peer review journals as a senior director at American Journal Editors. 

Charles married Rosalind Kearney in 1981 with whom he had two daughters, Gianna and Lily. They lived in Cambridge until the early 2000s. His daughters were a joy to him throughout his life. In 2004, he moved to Lincoln where he lived with close friend and colleague, Jamie Banks. Charles loved art, jazz, opera, film, golf, and poetry—he could recite “Jabberwocky” and several Byron poems by heart. He was passionate about Italian food and wine. He coauthored a humorous Italian cookbook for teens with daughter Gia (Teens Take Over the Kitchen; once listed #102 cookbook on Amazon), and wrote books about the family cats, Sydar and Audrey. His fascination with Leonardo Da Vinci inspired him to write a novel (unpublished). 

Charles is survived by his daughters, Gianna and Liliana of New York City; his partner, Jamie Banks of Lincoln, Massachusetts; and his former wife, Rosalind Kearney of New Hartford, New York.

—Submitted by the family.

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