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Michael S. Hudecki, retired UB biology professor who researched muscular dystrophy

Nov. 7, 1943 – July 30, 2016

Michael S. Hudecki, Ph.D., a retired University at Buffalo biology professor who researched his own illness, died Saturday in his Getzville home. He was 72.

He was born at Fort Bragg, N.C., as the oldest of five children. Mr. Hudecki’s parents moved the family after World War II to Buffalo, where his father had studied dentistry at UB.

After graduating from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in 1961, he studied biology at Niagara University, earning a bachelor’s degree with honors in 1965 and a master’s degree in 1967 with a concentration in chromosome anomalies.

In 1972, he earned a Ph.D. in biology from UB, where he studied depressed metabolism and met Rajmohini Sebastian, a Fulbright Scholar from India. They married in 1973.

He pursued postdoctoral research in muscle pathology because he and his youngest sister, Patricia, had a type of inherited muscular dystrophy called limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. When diagnosed as a boy, doctors said he might not even survive his teenage years.

With a fellowship from the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Mr. Hudecki went to Syracuse University, where he studied “protein turnover in cultured muscle.”

With grant support from the MDA and National Institutes of Health, he rejoined UB’s biology department as a research faculty member in 1977. For the next 26 years, he developed and implemented animal models in the study of dystrophy pathogenesis and chemotherapy.

His lab soon became the national preclinical testing center of the sponsoring MDA. During this time, Mr. Hudecki and his colleagues published nearly 50 papers in this area.

He also taught undergraduate courses, including nutrition, embryology, basic biology and the popular nonmajor course, Perspectives in Human Biology.

He was awarded the SUNY Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1995 and began to phase down his research and teaching.

Other awards he received included the NIH’s Career Development Award, UB’s George W. Thorn Alumni Award and an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Niagara University. He was inducted into his high school’s Signum Fidei Society of distinguished alumni.

He retired from UB as an emeritus research professor. His autobiography, “Three Roses: Living with Muscular Dystrophy and Marrying an Exceptional Woman,” was published late last year.

“That was his swan song,” said his brother, Dr. Gregory E. Hudecki. “He wanted to document everything.”

He was an avid fisherman, golfer and Buffalo Bills fan.

In addition to his wife of 43 years and brother, survivors include two sisters, Karen Albanesi and Stephanie Sharkey.

Visitation and services will be at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Dengler Roberts Perna Funeral Home, 8630 Transit Road, East Amherst.

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