Harihara M. Mehendale, PhD, DABT, ATS, a distinguished toxicologist and an outstanding mentor, passed away October 13, 2022, surrounded by his family in Dallas, Texas. He was 80 years old.
Dr. Mehendale obtained a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences in 1963 in India. He moved to United States in 1964 to join North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and went on to obtain an MS in 1966 and a PhD in 1969 under the mentorship of Dr. Ernest Hodgson. Following postdoctoral training at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) National Toxicology Program in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, he joined the faculty of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1975. In 1992, he moved to the University of Louisiana at Monroe (then called the Northeast Louisiana University), Monroe, Louisiana, to become the inaugural Kitty DeGree Endowed Chair in Toxicology. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Toxicology from 1999 to 2009. Dr. Mehendale retired in 2016 after 41 years of active scientific life.
Dr. Mehendale’s seminal contribution to the field of toxicology was to elucidate the concept of “tissue repair” or the compensatory tissue regeneration following chemical exposure. Through his extensive research funded by the National Institutes of Health and industry that spanned over three decades, included over 265 publications, and examined four organ systems (i.e., the liver, kidney, blood, and lung), Dr. Mehendale demonstrated that the toxicodynamic force of compensatory tissue repair plays a critical role in the final outcome of any toxic exposure. Dr. Mehendale’s pioneering research has provided a foundation for several young researchers who continue to explore the concept of recovery and regeneration in the context of chemical exposure.
Dr. Mehendale received numerous accolades over the years, including the prestigious SOT Education Award in 2001, American College of Toxicology Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007, and the SOT Distinguished Toxicology Scholar Award in 2010.
The most enduring legacy of Dr. Mehendale is the exceptional training that he provided to a number of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. In a career spanning 41 years, Dr. Mehendale trained 36 postdoctoral fellows and 32 PhD students who have gone on to have excellent careers in academia, government, and industry. Dr. Mehendale was a demanding yet caring mentor who always put his students needs first. He was not only a mentor in scientific sense but also served as their life coach. Dr. Mehendale and his wife, Rekha, provided a caring and loving home away from home for all his students.
Dr. Mehendale is survived by his wife of 56 years, Rekha, his daughter Roopa Foley (Tom), his son Neelesh Mehendale (Kim), and his four beautiful grandchildren Deven and Sona Foley and Leena and Raja Mehendale.
In lieu of flowers, please consider supporting a soon-to-be-formed SOT Endowment Fund being setup by Dr. Mehendale’s students and family. The goal of this new fund will be to financially assist newly enrolled international graduate students in a toxicology program while they are adjusting to a new country (e.g., the United States). This fund and assistance is inspired by how Rekha and Harihara Mehendale offered “a home away from home” to students, and this scholarship is intended to carry on that legacy by easing students’ relocation, at least partially. After arriving in a new country, it often takes several weeks before students start receiving the research/teaching assistantship from their graduate schools. This award is aimed at addressing students’ needs during this crucial period of adjustment. Students can use the award to offset expenses, such as rent, household necessities, local transportation, SOT membership application fees, or other items that assist in kickstarting their graduate studies.
While a formal, dedicated fund will be set-up in January 2023 for direct donations, you can contribute to the fund now by sending a check to SOT Headquarters: 11190 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 300, Reston, VA 20191. Make the check payable to the Society of Toxicology with a memo line or other notation stating that it is for the new Mehendale Welcome Fund. Otherwise, please be on the lookout for the announcement of the creation of this fund in January 2023 to contribute directly online via credit card or to make contributions in the form of stock securities or other assets.#InMemoriam#Member#Communique:SOTNews