Distinguished professor emeritus remembered for cancer research legacy

November 30, 2020

Satvir Tevethia, distinguished professor emeritus of microbiology and immunology and 29-year faculty member at Penn State College of Medicine, died Nov. 3, after a prolonged illness.

Tevethia, 84, was a pioneer and acclaimed investigator in viral and cancer immunology. His work focused on understanding how T lymphocytes, key cells in our immune system, recognize and eliminate virus-infected cells and cancer cells. His research identified how a person’s T lymphocytes respond to multiple targets on the same tumor cell and how T lymphocytes can be manipulated to eliminate growing tumors from the body. His work contributed to the overall understanding of the immune response to cancer.

Tevethia arrived at the College of Medicine in 1978 as a tenured full professor. In 1989, Penn State recognized him with the Faculty Scholar Award for Outstanding Achievement in Life and Health Sciences. Three years later, he was named a distinguished professor. Tevethia was continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health, including two MERIT awards from the National Cancer Institute.

He served as both acting chair and interim chair for the Department of Microbiology and Immunology during leadership changes, and served on numerous committees. He taught, mentored and trained many students, fellows and postdoctoral scholars.

He and his wife, Judy, professor emerita of microbiology and immunology, contributed tremendously to the scholarship and teaching missions of their department and the College of Medicine. The Tevethias retired in 2007 and are the parents of two daughters and three grandchildren.

Last Updated November 30, 2020