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A Statement from the Leadership of the Institute of Human Virology on the Passing of The Honorable Elijah Cummings

October 17, 2019 | Nora Samaranayake

The Honorable Elijah Cummings speaks at last year’s IHV JACQUES Journey Center Grand Opening.

An Outstanding Public Servant, A Dedicated Humanitarian, A Fierce Social Justice Advocate, and A Great Friend

The Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine mourns the passing of The Honorable Elijah Cummings, a lifelong Baltimorean, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Maryland’s 7th District, and, among other prominent positions, a member of IHV’s Board of Advisors.

“We are heartbroken over the loss of a true American hero, and friend, U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings,” said Robert C. Gallo, MD, Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Director, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Co-Founder and Chairman, International Scientific Leadership Board, Global Virus Network. “We extend our deepest sympathies to the Congressman’s wife, children, extended family and friends, and his dedicated staff in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. Congressman Cummings was an active board member of our Institute, promoting the need for biomedical research funding, and particularly, supporting our community health programs that engage underserved communities. He was committed to educating and training the next generation, and inspired young, rising virologists at our annual Global Virus Network Short Course. His passing is not just a loss for the Institute, but indeed, for the nation.”

University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, added, “We have lost one of our dearest friends and most passionate advocates with the passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings.  He dedicated his entire life to serving his community.  He cared greatly and fought tirelessly for the things that mattered most --- healthcare, education, clean air and water, and a strong economy.  We will never forget the unwavering support he provided his entire career for biomedical research, and for providing access to health care for the neediest patients in our community.  On behalf of the entire University of Maryland School of Medicine community, we extend our deepest condolences to his wife and family. His legacy will forever be a part of the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, and the entire nation.”

On October 18 of last year, the Congressman spoke to a group of his constituents at the opening of IHV’s JACQUES Journey Center, which was established to provide a wide range of free services to the Baltimore community, including walk-in HIV and Hepatitis-C testing, peer support and navigation to HIV and Hepatitis-C prevention services, health education, support groups, LGBTQ+ community events, youth-friendly programming, computer and financial literacy courses, and community work space. During the Grand Opening, Congressman Cummings spoke about the importance of lifting up people of different races and gender, saying inclusion of people of all races, genders and differing backgrounds is important to healing, and that “diversity is not our problem, it is our promise.” He went on to inspire the audience by saying, “You will have people, who, through their pain, came their passion, to do their purpose. Pain, passion, purpose.”  

“Congressman Cummings was not only a true and dear, dear friend to the Institute of Human Virology and Global Virus Network, he was an inspiration to everyone he spoke with, mentored, and dealt with,” said Terry Lierman, Co-Chair, Board of Advisors, IHV. “His honesty, compassion, integrity and commitment to public service is a message to all that had the blessing of knowing him. He will be sorely missed for his leadership and priorities, which are necessary to our democracy that he worked a lifetime to make even better.”

Congressman Cummings was the consummate public servant, dedicating his life to serving those he represented and empowering the underserved. He began his career in public service in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for 14 years and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem. From 1996 to now, Congressman Cummings represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He notably served as the Chairman of the U.S. Committee on Oversight and Reform and as a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, serving on both the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation and the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. He was an early Board member on the Institute of Human Virology’s Board of Advisors.

Video of the full speech at IHV’s JACQUES Journey Center Grand Opening

About the Institute of Human Virology

Formed in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland, and the University of Maryland Medical System, the IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is home to some of the most globally-recognized and world-renowned experts in all of virology. The IHV combines the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology, and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders - most notably, HIV the virus that causes AIDS. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @IHVmaryland.


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Nora Samaranayake

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