Shannon Matta, PhD, 61, passed away on Feb. 23, 2013, after an heroic battle with cancer.
Dr. Matta received her PhD in Anatomy from the University of Minnesota in 1983 and conducted her post-doctoral research in neurocytology at Rutgers Medical School. She began her faculty career at the University of Minnesota, becoming an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Senior Researcher at the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation.
In 1996, she became the Director of Basic Sciences of the Center for Addictive Disorders of the Institute for Brain and Immune Disorders, and served on the executive board of the Institute.
She joined the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in 1998. She was nationally and internationally known for her work in understanding the neurobiology of nicotine and alcohol abuse. She was the author of over 70 research publications, books, and scientific reviews, and was continuously funded for her research by the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Matta was an invaluable colleague who was generous with her time in instructing and advising numerous faculty and trainees. Her enduring patience, cheerfulness, and clarity of mind greatly contributed to her exceptional rate of success in mentoring graduate students and fellows.
In addition to her professional accomplishments, Dr. Matta loved her daughter, her family and friends, the symphony, the opera, fine wine and scotch, hiking in the Tetons, canoeing, and dancing. In everything she did, her motto was "if it is worth doing at all, it is worth committing utterly to it, and attacking it to the very best of your abilities." Her passion, integrity, and joie de vivre were apparent in all aspects of her life. Dr. Matta’s generosity, loving heart, fierce enthusiasm, scientific acumen, and friendship will be missed by her family, her friends, and UTHSC colleagues.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be sent to the Association for Women in Science Educational Award Fund, Association for Women in Science, 1321 Duke Street, Suite 210, Alexandria, VA 22314. Donation forms can be found online.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Robert Martin Gainey and Jacqueline Eckley Gainey Cornet, and three of her brothers, Martin, Laurence, and Kent Gainey. She is survived by her daughter, Megan Elizabeth, and ex-husband, John Matta; her siblings Megan Gainey Hawthorne and Lewis Hawthorne, Lauren Gainey Steel and Kenny Steel, Cadence Gainey Smith and Malcolm Andrew Smith, Grant Gainey and Lucinda Danner Gainey, and Barbara Eves Gainey Beach and Norman Beach; as well as six nieces and two nephews.