Tributes for “kindest and brilliant” geneticist killed in Clerkenwell cycle crash
Professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz was the "driving force" behind charity
22 September, 2018 — By Emily Finch
Professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz who died on Thursday
Colleagues and friends of Professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz, a geneticist at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, have paid tribute to her after she died on Thursday following a collision in St John Street.
The 55-year-old specialised in human and molecular genetics and was working to cure childhood deafness. She was also a keen cyclist.
She was the “driving force” behind the creation of a charity three years ago after being approached by a parent who wanted help in treating their child who suffered from Norrie disease, a genetic condition which causes blindness and can cause hearing loss.
L to R: Professor Bitner-Glindzicz, Wendy Horroboin, Chloe Horrobin, Dr Amina Al-Yassin
Wendy Horrobin, co-founder of the charity Norrie Disease Foundation, said: “She was the first researcher in the UK to say ‘I’d like to help’.”
“Maria became the driving force and main support behind the creation of the Norrie Disease Foundation and was managing the research into exploring gene therapy to treat the hearing loss.
“She went out of her way to meet and speak with families to understand their situation. She was so kind and caring and will be so missed. It was unbelievable that Maria decided to help such a rare small patient group.”
There are only around 35 families known to be affected by the disease in the UK.
Ms Horrobin added: “Maria was the kindest and most thoughtful person you could meet. She always listened to families and really wanted to help them. She was very caring and also a brilliant geneticist.”
Great Ormond Street hospital
Colleagues at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, where Professor Bitner-Glindzicz was a clinical geneticist, also paid tribute to her.
A statement from GOSH said that the professor was a “true leader in her field, a very valued colleague, and internationally recognised for her contributions to genetics. “.
It added: “Her important work focused on children and adults with sight and hearing loss. It included pioneering research into the genetic causes of deafness in children and therapies that she hoped would one day restore vision. She was a genuine advocate for her patients and an articulate voice who tirelessly pushed for greater support for children affected by sight and hearing impairments.”
“Our deepest sympathies go out to Maria’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”
Police and ambulance crews were called to the stretch of St John Street at the junction of Clerkenwell Road to reports of a collision between a stationary vehicle, a licensed Hackney taxi cab and a cyclist at just after 11.30am on Wednesday. Professor Bitner-Glindzicz died the next day. Her next of kin are aware, police said.
Witnesses said paramedics treated the cyclist for almost an hour before taking her to an east london hospital.
The drivers of the two vehicles stopped and were not arrested and are assisting police with their enquiries.
Officers from the Serious Collision unit are seeking witnesses to the collision and would especially like to hear from anyone with dash cam footage. Anyone with information is asked to call the unit on 0208 991 9555. Alternatively tweet @MetCC or call 101 quoting reference 2701/19 Sept.