A woman with short grey hair and a red sweater.

Joan Suit


Courtesy of Jerry Smith

Whitehead Institute remembers Joan Suit

The Whitehead Institute community is saddened by the passing of our longtime friend, Joan Suit, PhD. Our deep condolences go out to her beloved husband, Herman D. Suit, MD, PhD, and to their extended family.

Joan and Herman have been decades-long supporters of Whitehead Institute. They participated in many of our research forums and presentations, always asking informed and insightful questions about the goals of our scientists’ work and the research challenges they faced. And they helped us surmount those challenges through their ongoing philanthropic support. They established a series of Charitable Gift Annuities with the Institute, made 20 years of annual contributions, and created the Herman and Joan Suit Whitehead Fellows Fund. They were among the first members of both our Kendall Square Pioneer Society and our Legacy Society.

Joan earned her PhD in microbiology from Stanford University in 1957 — a time when women faced considerable barriers to success in graduate school and in science. She went on to serve as a senior research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she conducted studies on microbial genetics with Nobel Laureate Salvador Luria. 

Even after her retirement from lab research, Joan helped to advance science, education, and healthcare across the Boston area. Beyond her engagement with Whitehead Institute, she was a Trustee Emerita for the Museum of Science, co-chair of the Friends of Harvard College Library, and an enthusiastic, long-time volunteer and board secretary for the Friends of MGH Cancer Center.

We will miss Joan’s intellect, passion, and commitment.



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