Trustee Alex Barkas passes away unexpectedly at 64
Trustee Alex Barkas '68, a life science venture capitalist, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 64 on Nov. 21, according to a Nov. 22 BrandeisNOW press release.
"An alumnus with special affection for students and deep interests in science, art and business, he was very helpful to me as I thought through issues during my first year as president," wrote University President Fredrick Lawrence in an email to the Justice, continuing, "I will always be grateful for his counsel; it certainly meant a great deal to me."
Barkas served on the University's Board of Trustees since 2001 and as chair of the Brandeis University Science Advisory Council since 2000. BUSAC "advocates internally and externally to sustain and grow the sciences at Brandeis," according to the BrandeisNOW press release.
In a phone interview with the Justice, Prof. Eve Marder (NPSY) said that she had interacted with Barkas during his chairmanship of BUSAC in her role as head of the Division of Science. "We have lost someone who cared deeply about Brandeis and science at Brandeis. His leadership of BUSAC will be sorely missed because he was a strong advocate of sciences at Brandeis," Marder said.
Chair of the Board of Trustees Malcolm Sherman wrote in an email to the Justice that Barkas also played "a lead role in creating and supporting the revitalized Office of Technology Licensing, which illustrates another example of his imagination and leadership at Brandeis."
Along with his wife Lynda Wijcik, Barkas also supported a number of Brandeis initiatives related to the sciences, the International Business School and the Rose Art Museum, according to the BrandeisNOW press release. His contributions established the Student Committee for the Rose Art Museum, which works with the museum staff to organize campus-wide events.
"His insight, judgment and honestly, all of his values, were outstanding and his advice was always sound, whether I agreed or disagreed. … I have a great appreciation for all he gave to Brandeis—his time, energy and creativity," Sherman wrote.
Lawrence wrote in his email that "In the weeks before his death, he had been working with the provost to enhance the competitiveness and financial strength of the sciences at Brandeis and he was very excited about what they planned to accomplish. That work will continue in his memory."
At the time of his death, Barkas was the managing director at Prospect Venture Partners, a life sciences venture capitalist firm that is "dedicated to building outstanding biopharmaceutical and medical device companies," according to its website.
He earned a bachelor's degree in biology from the University and a Ph.D. in biology from New York University in 1986. Barkas conducted research in many facilities, such as the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. Barkas is survived by his wife and two daughters, Alina and Johanna, according to the BrandeisNOW press release.