We are all heartbroken to say goodbye to our beloved leader and mentor, Sam Gambhir. He was a brilliant man who knew so much about so many things: laboratory science, clinical care, translational research, commercial enterprise, and, artificial intelligence. But his brilliance shined brightest in how he related to others. He expressed warmth and care to everyone around him--it was abundantly clear he truly loved those who worked for him and with him. He could quickly bring an entire academic department to quiet tears or raucous laughter with just a few words, sometimes just a few moments apart.
His many gifts made him a magnet for great people and abundant resources. He was the only leader who said: don't worry about the money--if you have an idea, we will find a way to make it happen. And so he did. He was the strongest early supporter of the AIMI Center concept, and helped build a community of support for our work. The AIMI Center's core values: interdisciplinary, collaborative, ethical, diverse and inclusive, come directly from Sam. It is not an exaggeration to say that without Sam, the AIMI Center would not exist.
Some of the lowest moments for our department in recent years were the death of Sam's teenage son and the sudden passing of a beloved faculty member. In guiding us through those times, Sam told a comforting allegory that portrayed our lives as a ride on a train. We board the train when we are born, share our lives with others on the train, and leave the train when we die. And when we disembark, our memory is carried on by those continuing the journey. What a beautiful way to think about life.
Sam: You have left an indelible impression on all of us. Until we reach our final stop, we will uphold your memory by aspiring to the ideals you embodied. Rest in peace.
Curt Langlotz, Matt Lungren, Johanna Kim
June 19, 2020