In Memoriam: Remembering Sharon Adair Meyer, PhD

By Tammy Dugas posted 08-10-2023 11:54 AM


Dr. Meyer’s husband is a co-author of the piece.

Sharon A. Meyer, PhD, was born in Jefferson, Iowa, on June 1, 1949, and passed away peacefully in her home in Monroe, Louisiana, on Monday, July 24, 2023, after a long battle with cancer. She obtained a BS in chemistry and an MS in biochemistry from Iowa State University and went on to complete a PhD in physiology at Cornell University in 1984 and two postdoctoral fellowships: one at Harvard Medical School (with Dr. Alice Liu) and one at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (with Dr. Ken McCarthy).

In 1986, Dr. Meyer transferred to Duke University, where she worked as a Research Associate/Assistant Medical Research Professor in the laboratory of Dr. Randy Jirtle. There, she studied the mechanisms by which tumor promoters (e.g., phenobarbital) enhance the formation of liver cancer. Her strong background in biochemistry resulted in the publication of 10 seminal papers on the biochemical mechanisms by which EGF, TGFB, and the M6P/IGF2R contribute to liver carcinogenesis. Decades later, in 2013, after identifying the EGF receptor as an indirect mediator of phenobarbital-induced expression of CYP2B, Drs. Meyer and Jirtle collaborated on an Invited Perspective for Science Signaling.

In 1991, Dr. Meyer transitioned to the laboratory of Dr. Robert Smart at North Carolina State University where she studied skin tumor promotion. More specifically, the team discovered that the pesticide mirex was a strong skin tumor promoter in female mice. While at North Carolina State, she was promoted to Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Toxicology where she remained until 2000, when she accepted a position as Associate Professor at the University of Louisiana Monroe College of Pharmacy.

In her independent laboratory, Dr. Meyer studied mechanisms for the toxicity of munitions compounds, crude oil mixtures, and herbal supplements. In 2014, she was recognized as a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences, and in 2015, she was promoted to Professor.

Dr. Meyer recently shared that some of her most cherished research contributions were those that she conducted with scientists at the US Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, Mississippi. With funding from the Corps, she worked to understand the risks of exposure to munitions compounds like RDX and MNX. The work had tremendous regional importance given Monroe’s proximity to the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant in Doyline, Louisiana, which is designated as a Federal Facility National Priorities List (i.e., Superfund) site. Owing to her research in this area, in 2021, she was honored with an Endowed Professorship from the University of Louisiana System Foundation and Willis-Knighton Health Systems. Her more recent research was aimed at determining the risks of exposure to complex mixtures and deciphering their toxicologically “active” agents using multivariate statistics.

Dr. Meyer joined SOT in 1994 and held the Society in high esteem. She served in numerous leadership roles in her Specialty Sections, including as Secretary/Treasurer (2008), Vice President, and then President (2011–2013) for the In Vitro and Alternative Methods Specialty Section and as Secretary/Treasurer (2018–2020) for the Food Safety Specialty Section. She was an active and cherished member of the South Central Regional Chapter, serving in nearly every role, including Secretary/Treasurer, Vice President, and then President (2001–2006).

If you knew Sharon well, she would regale you with stories of her upbringing as a Midwesterner farm girl and of the many successes of her husband (Robert Meyer, DVM) and daughter (Anna Adair Meyer) with pride and adoration. Sharon will be dearly missed as an incredible colleague, friend, and mentor.