Posted by Newspaper Transcriber on Saturday, October 21, 2006 at 13:33:56 :
Robert M. Scarborough
Wife Carroll described a steady stream of six to 10 visitors a day in the last month of life for Half Moon Bay resident Robert M. Scarborough, Ph.D. They came to thank him for how he had touched their lives, either as fellow scientists he had mentored or patients whose lives were impacted by pharmaceuticals he had discovered or patented.
"People had come to tell him what he had meant to them. It was very moving and touching - truly an honor to be married to him," she said. "God gives us special gifts. Few use them in appropriate ways, and I think he did. He used his strengths in ways to benefit others."
Dr. Scarborough died June 25 at home, at age 52, after battling a brain tumor. Throughout his battle, his wife said, he kept a positive outlook and "never whined or moaned." Instead, at one point he participated in a clinical trial studying his own illness.
Dr. Scarborough was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Feasterville, Pa. He earned a bachelor's of science degree in textile chemistry from Philadelphia University in 1975 and a doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979. He then came to California for postdoctoral work with the University of California, Berkeley, and settled in Belmont until moving to Half Moon Bay in 1999.
Early in his career, Dr. Scarborough recognized the chance to improve human life through new pharmaceuticals and became a leading medicinal chemist with Bay Area companies. He discovered the drugs Natrecor and Integrilin.
In addition, three new drugs resulting from the work of Dr. Scarborough and his team are now in clinical trials. One is a therapy for leukemia patients; another is an anticoagulant for patients at risk for deep venous thrombosis; and the third is an antithrombotic for patients of cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Scarborough also authored nearly 100 issued patents and more than 100 scientific manuscripts. He co-founded Portola Pharmaceuticals in 2003, with which he served as senior vice president, medicinal chemistry, until his death.
"He had an uncanny ability to deconstruct the most complex of problems into one or two issues, allowing his colleagues to see a path forward where none was evident previously," said colleague and Portola Pharmaceuticals co-founder David Phillips, in an obituary for the pharmaceutical community. "This was his remarkable gift."
Dr. Scarborough's professional life was fueled by his drive to contribute to the betterment of the world, his wife said. "He was one of those guys who set goals ... and he achieved every goal he set for himself," she said.
Along the way, he mentored his scientific peers to do the same.
"Everyone has a different mission in life. He was nurturing to the scientists who worked with him, a big mentor to many scientists," she said. "He felt like everyone needed to make a contribution to society."
But he matched that drive with modesty, she added.
"He never wanted to draw attention to himself," she said, but felt that "you do things because you need to do them for the benefit of society. You don't do things to promote yourself and look good."
Outside of work, Dr. Scarborough pursued passions for fine wines, German cars, hiking in the Sierras and classical music. He was also a passionate golfer, who met his wife (also a golfer) on a golfing vacation in Hawaii in 1994 when he'd just taken up the sport.
At first "he was just terrible! I wondered, how can he enjoy it? He was hitting balls into the ocean," she laughed.
Dr. Scarborough is survived by his wife, Carroll, and son Ian, of Half Moon Bay, his parents Grace and Bob Scarborough Sr. of Feasterville, Pa., and sisters Kathy Scarborough of Sicklerville, N.J. and Carol (and John) Miller, and nephew Dave, all of Absecon, N.J.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23, at the Community United Methodist Church at 777 Miramontes St. In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to consider a donation to the National Brain Tumor Foundation, (415) 834-9970 or www.braintumor.org, in memory of Robert Scarborough,
Half Moon Bay Review and Pescadero Pebble, Wednesday, July 12, 2006
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