We are deeply saddened to share the tragic news that Andrew Tager, MD, passed away on August 11, 2017. Andy was a vibrant and esteemed member of our community, and will long be remembered for his dedication to scientific investigation, his devotion to mentorship and teaching, his excellence in clinical care, and most of all his friendship with members of our Mass General family. In memoriam of his vision of promoting research into pathways shared by fibrotic diseases across organ systems, the Mass General Fibrosis Research Center has been renamed the Andrew Tager Fibrosis Research Center.
Andy came to Mass General in 1988 as an intern in Medicine after receiving his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Brown University and his medical degree magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School (HMS). He completed his residency at Mass General and did further training in Medical Oncology as a fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He subsequently completed a clinical and research fellowship in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at Mass General. He joined the Mass General faculty in 1999 and was promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine at HMS in 2012. Andy did his research in the Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases and had appointments in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology. In addition to performing cutting-edge investigation into the mechanisms of fibrosis, he was devoted to the experience of sharing knowledge and was a highly sought-after and dedicated mentor to many young physicians. Andy served in multiple leadership positions throughout his career, including as the co-Director of the MGH Interstitial Lung Disease Program (2007-2014), Associate Director and then Director of the Mass General Human Immune System Mouse Program for the HU CFAR (2007-2017) and Ragon Institute (2012-2017) that was recently established as a Partners Core, Director of the Mass General Interstitial Lung Disease Program (2014-2017), Director of the Boston-Providence Pulmonary Fibrosis Care Centers of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Care Center Network (2015-2017) and the Founding Director of the Mass General Fibrosis Research Center (2016-2017). Andy had a prolific research career, serving as a Principal Investigator or co-PI on 39 grants, 16 of which were NIH-funded, and had 64 published peer-reviewed articles and editorials. His contributions to the field of pulmonary fibrosis were widely recognized, and he was awarded the Steven Krane Award for Excellence in Research from the Department of Medicine at Mass General, the Marvin I. Swartz Research Award in Pulmonary Fibrosis from the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis and most recently a Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishments from the American Thoracic Society.
Andy found true joy in his research on the mechanisms of fibrosis and fibrotic diseases and the promise of translating his discoveries to help patients. He was thrilled that his discovery that lysophosphatidic acid and its receptor LPA1 are key mediators in driving fibrosis led to a multitude of new drugs that target this pathway, which have advanced to Phase II clinical trials. He was excited to lead the new Mass General Fibrosis Research Center, now the Andrew Tager Fibrosis Research Center. Established in January of 2016 the Center’s vision was to develop collaborations between faculty across the DOM focused on fibrotic diseases affecting different organ systems. The goal was to provide investigators who are performing complementary basic, translational and clinical research access to enabling technologies, expertise and material. In addition to its research goals, Andy envisioned the Center would play an important role in education as well, establishing a series of programs within the Center in specialized areas of fibrosis research, promoting the development of junior faculty through pilot grants to support careers in fibrosis research, and organizing a monthly seminar series and a yearly symposium comprised of internal and external speakers to inform members in the latest developments in fibrosis research. While there is no tribute that can reconcile Andy’s loss, we are honored to re-name the Center he established in his memory.
In addition to his distinguished medical and research career, Andy will also be remembered for his incredible devotion to his colleagues and friends. Anyone who interacted with Andy immediately felt the warmth, kindness, energy and boundless optimism that permeated everything Andy did in his life. Whether he was congratulating a colleague on an accomplishment or reaching out to cheer someone up, there was no greater cheerleader for other people’s success. He was most proud of the success of his trainees many of whom are now leaders in their respective fields. His legacy will live on in the work of his former mentees and colleagues who he influenced with his teaching, compassion and inspiration.