Dr. Yury Verlinsky, a Chicago physician who pioneered pregnancy blood transplants through the umbilical cord, has died, his publicist said today. He died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital of colon cancer. He was 66.
Verlinsky founded the Reproductive Genetics Institute in 1990, as well as the Preimplantation Genetics Diagnosis International Society.
He was an expert in many topics, and conducted research to determine if gene defects that cause cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome can be detected before birth.
In 2000, Verlinsky introduced a life-saving practice that involved transferring cord blood or stem cells of a newborn to a sibling with diseases, such as leukemia. He also introduced research to identify the likelihood of children to develop late-stage diseases, like Alzheimer's disease or cancer.
Most recently, he established the world's first bank of human stem cells at the Reproductive Genetics Institute.
Verlinsky was born in Siberia on Sept. 1, 1943. He earned a PhD in cytogenetics and embryology from Kharkov University. He moved the United States with his family in 1979.
He is survived by his wife, Luba, a son, Oleg, 40, and three grandchildren. The family lives in Chicago.
Serivces will be Monday, July 20, at Weinstein Family Services, 111 Skokie Blvd., in Wilmette.