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M.D./Ph.D. student Maria Birukova dies in climbing accident


Maria Birukova, a fourth-year graduate student in the M.D./Ph.D. program at the Stanford School of Medicine, died on Sept. 18 in a climbing accident near Bear Creek Spire in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Birukova was an avid mountaineer and a researcher focused on developing therapies for patients with chronic and often deadly wounds. Earlier this year she earned the prestigious Bio-X Bowes graduate student fellowship for her interdisciplinary research into antibiotic-resistant wounds at the laboratory of immunologist Paul Bollyky.

“Maria was a very dynamic, interested and interesting person,” said Bollyky. “ She was an outstanding scientist [whose] loss leaves a hole in her graduate class, as well as in my lab.”

In addition to her research, Birukova was a consulting project manager for the Stanford Healthcare Consulting Group, a non-profit volunteer-run organization dedicated to improving patient care. She was also a Graduate Voice and Influence Program Fellow at Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

“The medical school community has suffered a tremendous loss,” said Lloyd Minor, dean of the School of Medicine. “Maria’s interdisciplinary approach to the treatment of antibiotic-resistant [biofilm-coated wounds] brought to bear insights from both chemistry and immunology in an attempt to devise new treatments for patients with few other options. She will be greatly missed, both professionally and personally.”

Birukova earned her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at Yale. She was born on May 31, 1990 in Moscow, Russia and is survived by her parents Konstantin Birukov and Anna Birukova who are both faculty members at the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago.

Contact Miguel Samano at msamano ‘at’

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Miguel Samano is an opinions editor majoring in Comparative Literature and Chicanx-Latinx Studies. He loves sleeping, drinking night coffee, seeking out new books to read, and eating tacos with friends.