Our hearts weigh heavy these days as we mourn our good friend and colleague Thaddeus Terlumun Gbem. Thaddeus suddenly passed away on past Friday, 21 of September 2018, in Zaria/ Nigeria. He leaves two children, Cheryl and Yator and his beloved wife Lucy.
Thaddeus was born in Kwande, Benue State, Nigeria and started his scientific career at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria were he became Bachelor of Science in Biology in 1998. During this time he worked as an assistant lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University until 2005 when he moved to Bremen, Germany to do his Masters degree. Thaddeus joined the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Master program at the University of Bremen in 2005 were he got in first contact to Prof. Sørge Kelm and his working group. The glycobiochemistry research of Prof. Kelm’s group fascinated Thaddeus so much that he decided to do his doctoral degree at Prof. Kelm’s lab right after he finished his Master in 2008. In close cooperation with Prof. Andrew Jonathan Nok (1962 - 2017), Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria, Thaddeus worked in a project focusing on the development of new strategies to fight African Trypanosomiasis, a fatal disease caused by the parasite Trypanosoma leading e.g. to sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in animals.
In his PhD work from 2009 to 2013, Thaddeus identified and characterised a parasitic enzyme type being central for the parasite and used as a target for novel potent drug design to fight trypanosomiasis in Africa and affected countries. His study represents a fundamental basis and greatly benefit to the field of trypanosomal parasitology. As some of the corresponding results, he published his work in different respected journals and established a number of collaborations with scientists around the whole planet. After he successfully acquired his Doctoral degree on the 18th of December 2013 in Bremen, he started his work as an associate research leader at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, were he successfully continued and extended the research of his projects on Negelcted Tropical Diseases until his decease.
A part from his scientific work in Bremen we, the Kelm lab members, met Thaddeus as a very friendly, emphatic, helpful and funny guy, with whom we shared a wonderful time over more than 10 years filled with countless gorgeous and emotional moments. For example his M.Sc. and PhD party, the annually Christmas party at Prof. Kelms house, Wedding parties, the Bremer Freimarkt, the Breminale, the pub crawlings, the BBQs and many more unforgettable moments. We are all more then just very thankful that we met Thaddeus. Obviously he also enjoyed his time in Bremen so as in Prof. Kelm’s lab as he stated in his PhD thesis:
“I would like to express my profound gratitude and appreciation to my Doktor Vater, Herr Prof. Dr.Sørge Kelm...I have gone through an excellent training, and would forever remain indebted to him.“
„Dr. Frank Dietz has been a wonderful person to know and work with all through the days of my stay in the lab. Chef, thanks for all your support.“
„Hey, Mario, you have been a great friend. Thanks for all your support and encouragement. It has always been fun working with you.“
And also with his „way“ to express...
“AG Kelm has become family to me. While it will be difficult to mention names, I seek to single out Petra Berger, Nazila Isakovic for the immense help they offered in the laboratory. I would like to thank Sabine Limberg for always being there and helping me navigate the usually tortuous official issues.”
Our thoughts are with his family and friends who have just as well lost a good friend, beloved father or husband. Thaddeus, you left us way to early and we will miss you sadly but you will always keep a place in our mind and heart. We grieve with his family and take leave from a wonderful person, may you rest in peace my friend.
Za dedoo boki wan
(Tiv Hausa for “goodbye my friend”)
Remaining in deep sorrow, yours AG Kelm…
Sørge Kelm, Frank Dietz, Mario Waespy, Judith Weber, Ibrahim Mahamat, Claudine Henriette Ngomtcho, Sabine Limberg, Nazila Isakovic, Jana Rosenau, Arushi Gupta, Christin Goldbaum, Jana Schönfeld, Rashida Bourai, Petra Berger, Petra Seekamp, Jessica Nüsse, Veronika Kraaz, Tanja Dodenhof, Hendrik Koliwer-Brandl, Ketan Thakar, Sarang Limaye, Doron Gollnast, Tim Kröcher