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A Life Lived

Dr Steven Douglas 

My dear friend Dr Steven Douglas recently passed. As I sat at his funeral and feeling the sadness of never chatting with him again, I thought of all the years we worked together and how many people, just in my circle this man had touched. 

Dr. Douglas was a giant in the field of research and immunology. It is almost impossible to encompass his many contributions.  For those people who worked with him at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, CHOP, he was their founding father and for many years, he WAS immunology at CHOP.

We met by chance from a small article in the newspaper about 40 years ago as he actually answered the phone when I called his office up at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which allowed me to by-pass the usual “red tape” of trying to contact someone as high up in research at the hospital. 

My husband Cliff and I explained we had two large nightclubs in Atlantic City, and read he was doing new research on HIV-AIDS, and children. At that time people were dying and the mysterious disease seemed to only haunt the gay community but we also noticed the bigger picture right away. Cliff and I saw first hand that the cross over from gay to straight, to women and eventually children was big, bigger than all of us could imagine. Dr Douglas was a pioneer and together we raised enough money through our nightclubs with fundraising to help kick this research off the ground. We are certainly not saying it was easy, but with diligence, hard work, and people trusting our judgement, Dr Douglas was soon able to move from a closet size laboratory to something somewhat large enough to begin real studies, and apply for millions in grants to help conquer this disease.

Dr D supported everything we stood for and vice versa. We began meeting for lunches, meeting with scientists and anyone who would listen to our mission. That mission blossomed into huge laboratories, breakthrough medicines, treatments and eventually medicines and knowledge on our HIV-AIDS babies born and not only surviving, but for them to also grow up to be healthy adults giving birth to healthy babies of their own. Personally I feel and know that without Dr Douglas, his research, published papers, and his growing team, all of this may not have happened. Yes, it took 30 years plus for this all to come back around, but the research led to quicker treatments, more vaccinations and their improvements up until now with our vaccines coming quicker and introducing us to even more journeys of research and healing. CHOP is blessed to have had Dr D and I/ we are blessed to have known him. 

Thank you Dr Douglas for everything you not only gave me personally and continue to do as we continue donating  to our own fund named for the Shute Family used specifically for HIV-AIDS Research, but also for everyone who is touched by this disease, adults, children, and the entire LGBTQIA community. No matter what anyone in this world thinks or feels, we are all in some way touched by someone affected ; we are all human and they are in all  our lives. 

I would like to personally thank Dr Douglas for everything he has done to open the world to basic human rights and the treatments to care for everyone in the world. You certainly will be missed. 

Love, Alesia