Maurice M. Pechet, Ph.D., M.D., of Cambridge, Massachusetts, died in his sleep on March 5 during his 95th year. He was a teacher, physician, scientist, beloved father and husband of 51 years.
Originally from a trading post in Saskatchewan, Canada, he spent 70 years at Harvard University, earning a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1944 and an M.D. in 1948, and devoting the rest of his career to teaching and science. He held a number of posts on the faculty at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School. As a consistent presence at Harvard’s Lowell House for decades, he mentored generations of students and biochemists. As a physician and endocrinologist, he cared deeply for his patients and served on the staff at Massachusetts General Hospital for over half a century.
As a scientist, he published over 100 papers and contributed many new synthetic processes including a revolutionary process for fluorination used to create 5-Fluorouracil, still widely used in the treatment of cancer. His work was the foundation for much of modern steroid chemistry, including the synthesis of Aldosterone, which is important in the early understanding of the endocrine system and the development of Prednisone, which is still used throughout the world for treatment of myriad conditions. He devoted decades to his research on Vitamin D synthesis and metabolism.
As a philanthropist, he gave generously of his time and money. Along with his wife, Kitty, he has been a major patron of the arts, supporting Marlboro Music School, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Longy School of Music, the Danforth Museum, and the Signet Society among others. He served as a Police Surgeon for the Cambridge Police Department. His passion was education where his support ranged from helping individual students travel and study through more than half a century of support for Harvard University.
A memorial service will be held on March 9th from 5:00-7:00pm in the Lowell House Junior Common Room, 10 Holyoke Place, Cambridge, MA. Funeral services will be private. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to contribute are asked to make a donation to the Maurice Pechet Fund for Lowell House, payable to Harvard University and sent to the Lowell House Office, Lowell A22, 10 Holyoke Street, Cambridge MA 02138.