20th Century - Medicine

Anita Agatha Kurmann

Anita Agatha Kurmann (November 22, 1976 – August 7, 2015)[1][2] was a Swiss endocrinologist and thyroid surgeon.


Anita studied medicine in Basel and worked at the Inselspital in Bern, then moved to Boston to train in research at the Beth Israel Deaconess hospital, where she was a post-doctoral fellow.[3][4] She worked with a multi-institution group based at Boston University[5] that was the first to generate thyroid cell progenitors and thyroid follicular organoids from pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) in mice, and thyroid cell progenitors from induced PSCs in humans.[5] This was achieved by establishing the signalling required to create a thyroid lineage, namely BMP4 and FGF2. It was shown that thyroid hormones were secreted by the mice organoids after transplantation into mice.[5]


Kurmann was planning to return to Switzerland to become head of endocrine surgery at the Inselspital, but was killed in a bicycle crash in Boston.[3][4][6][7][8] As she was riding south on Mass Ave, a flatbed tractor trailer turned right onto Beacon Street in front of her and Anita was run over by the trailer’s wheels. The group’s paper of which she was co-lead author was dedicated to her memory.

In the police report, Boston police state the truck driver had his right turn signal active for eight seconds prior to the turn, and that Kurmann was riding in a bus lane when she was struck. Bicycle advocates maintain she had the right to use that lane. [citation needed]

Police investigators concluded that Kurmann failed to recognize the truck was turning and was riding in the truck’s blind spot.[9] All large trucks have 4 documented blind spots, the largest of which is on the right side of the vehicle.[10] Though trucks in many European countries have begun to utilize or require a 6 mirror system to eliminate the driver’s inability to see in these blindspots and/or advanced collision sensors with automatic braking, no such equipment is required for large trucks driving on America’s urban roads.

Following this crash, the intersection of Beacon Street where it occurred was equipped with advanced stop lines.[11]


  1. ^ “Gedenkseite von Anita Kurmann”Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German). August 13, 2015. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  2. ^ “Nouvelles du corps médical” (PDF). Bulletin des Médecins Suisses (in French). 2015 (35). EMH Media: 1215. August 26, 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 24, 2016. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  3. Jump up to:a b Weinstock, Maia. “Gone in 2015: Commemorating 10 Outstanding Women in Science”Scientific American Blog Network. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  4. Jump up to:a b Felder, Guido (August 10, 2015). “Schweizer Ärztin stirbt unter Sattelschlepper”Blick.ch (in German). Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  5. Jump up to:a b c Kurmann, Anita A.; Serra, Maria; Hawkins, Finn; Rankin, Scott A.; Mori, Munemasa; Astapova, Inna; Ullas, Soumya; Lin, Sui; Bilodeau, Melanie (November 5, 2015). “Regeneration of Thyroid Function by Transplantation of Differentiated Pluripotent Stem Cells”Cell Stem Cell17 (5): 527–542. doi:10.1016/j.stem.2015.09.004ISSN 1934-5909PMC 4666682PMID 26593959.
  6. ^ Kotton, Darrell (August 9, 2015). “Statement on the death of Anita Kurmann from lab director”The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  7. ^ Crimaldi, Laura (August 8, 2015). “Cyclist fatally struck identified as Cambridge woman”The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  8. ^ “BU Research Scientist Killed in Back Bay Biking Accident”BU Today. Boston University. August 9, 2015. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  9. ^ “Bicycle group says driver was responsible in fatal Back Bay bike crash in 2015 – The Boston Globe”BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 2018-01-26.
  10. ^ “Truck Blind Spots: Know the Danger Zones – TruckersReport.com”TruckersReport.com. Retrieved 2018-01-26.
  11. ^ Ramos, Jill Terreri (August 31, 2015). “Fixes set for deadly Back Bay intersection”The Boston Globe.

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