Professor Jana Šmardová has passed away. She gave one the feeling that there was a point in wondering about things and not stopping ask.

It gives us great sadness to share the news that Professor Jana Šmardová, who worked at the Section of Genetics and Molecular Biology at the Department of Experimental Biology, has left us. She will remain in our memories forever.

5 Sep 2023 Zuzana Jayasundera Kevin Francis Roche

Photo: Irina Matusevič

“An unquenchable desire to see through the surface of things shone in her eyes”

Jana Šmardová died on August 31, 2023 at the age of 62 after a serious illness. A memorial service will take place on Friday, September 8 at 12:00 p.m. in the Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Brno on Mendlovo náměstí.

“Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated”. Lamartine’s quote at the head of her death announcement is telling. The professor was a personality who left a mark on the hearts and minds of her loved ones, her colleagues and the hundreds of students who took her courses, as shown by the excerpts from the list of condolences shared with the readers by Professor Jan Šmarda, Jana Šmardová’s husband. One of these, very apt, is also the title of this paragraph and one forms part of the title of this text; we present others below.

Quotes from the list of condolences

“...Jana was a beautiful being...”

“...She was an incredible lady who, with elegance, taste and empathy, and above all her wonderful, believable expression, conveyed strong emotions, not only in her teaching. Her emotions were formed by her private life and scientific research, which was enriched by its overlap with her philosophical approach. I always looked up to her and felt her uniqueness...”

“...Jana was an inspiration to me and a light in my world. Her intuition and intelligence were a powerful combination…”

“...I was impressed by Jana’s intelligence and kindness. She had a special sense for people’s feelings (psychology) and shared their joys and problems. At the same time, she was very soft, but with a lot of energy and willpower…”

“...the fact that I had the opportunity to meet her was one of the greatest events in my life; every meeting was incredibly fulfilling...”

“...the unquenchable desire to see through the surface of things shone in her eyes, even during my last visit, which I consider a gift...”

“...the professor will remain forever in my mind. I will remember her lectures, full of passion and enthusiasm for the given issue, and what a wonderful teacher she was for me, with a very humane and humble approach…”

“...Jana was exceptional; it was impossible not to like her, respect her, admire her...”

“...she was characterised by kindness, kindness and a good heart...”

“...she was a beautiful being, we will keep her as such in our hearts...”

“...I fondly remember her lectures; she was the most inspiring teacher I experienced during my university studies...”

“...I don't know of a more worthy, wonderful person than Professor Šmardová...”

“'s a shame that she will no longer enrich us with her thoughts and ideas...”

“...I liked her very much and she was always a great inspiration to me...”

“...she was fragile yet strong, she had originality, wit and elegance, she had the ability to excite, encourage and inspire, these qualities will forever remain unsurpassed...”

“...she gave one the feeling that that there was a point in wondering about things and not stopping ask...”

“…I will always remember her as kind, wise, smart and brave, and as a woman with a big heart…”

“...the professor meant a lot to me, both professionally and, above all, in my approach to life. Her advice and wisdom often comes to mind…”

A picture taken in March 2023 during preparations for an interview about Jana Šmardová’s book, ‘What Tumours Teach: Parallels in the Behaviour of Cells and People’. Photo: Irina Matusevič.

A commemoration of the life and work of the professor.

A short autobiography

Prof. RNDr. Jana Šmardová, CSc.

* 17/8/1961 Lanškroun
† 31/8/2023 Brno

Jana Šmardová studied molecular biology at the Masaryk University’s Faculty of Science, where she graduated with honours in 1984, receiving the title of RNDr. Between 1984 and 1988, Jana completed her postgraduate studies in microbiology as an internal scientific aspirant at the Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, receiving the title of Candidate of Biological Sciences (CSc.). Subsequently, between 1988 and 1993, she was employed as a researcher at the Institute of Entomology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in České Budějovice. From April 1991 to February 1993, she took part in a postdoctoral placement in America, working at the State University of New York in Stony Brook, USA. From February 1996 to December 2003, she worked at the Masaryk Oncology Institute as a researcher at the Department of Experimental Oncology, and from September 2003 to January 2019, she was employed as the Head of the Molecular Pathology Laboratory at the Institute of Pathology, The University Hospital Brno in Bohunice. Jana has been employed at our faculty since 2005, first as an Assistant Professor at the Section of Genetics and Molecular Biology, later being promoted to the position of Associate Professor, after habilitation in the field of Molecular Biology and Genetics in 2005, and as Professor in 2010.

In her scientific work, Jana focused on the study of aberrations in selected molecular mechanisms related to the development of tumours. She was the main investigator in six grant-funded projects, and the author or co-author of more than 50 scientific articles in impacted foreign journals, and more than 30 articles in domestic peer-reviewed professional journals. In addition to her research, she applied her experience in functional analysis of the tumour suppressor TP53 in practice, participating in the introduction of routine analysis of this gene in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

Jana helped develop the field of molecular biology and genetics at the Masaryk University’s Faculty of Medicine, mainly by expanding the teaching of tumour biology. From 1999, Jana regularly contributed individual lectures for the ‘Molecular Biology of Eukaryotes’ course, and, since 2002, taught the course ‘Molecular and Cellular Biology of Tumours’, along with a special follow-up seminar on ‘Tumour Biology’ (since 2011) and the lecture ‘Biology of Tumours for Everyone, or Cell Philosophy’ (since 2013). Alongside her individual lectures, she contributed to other courses provided by the Department of Experimental Biology (Molecular Human Genetics, Study Introduction), contributed her perspective on the molecular nature of tumour development in the Pathology and Oncology courses taught at the Masaryk University’s Faculty of Medicine, and regularly participated in educational courses for professional secondary school workers in the health sector. She also devoted herself to the popularisation of science in the form of lectures for high school students and seniors within the University of the Third Age, regularly contributing to the Genetics and Molecular Biology Course for high school teachers. For a long time, she also worked as a Member of State Commissions. Finally, she participated in the extensive Czech translation of the textbook ‘Genetics’ (2009) and its second edition (2017), and was an author or co-author of chapters in nine college textbooks and scripts.

‘Baptism’ of the first edition of the Czech translation of the book ‘Genetics’ by D.P. Snustad and M.J. Simmons (2009). From left: P. Lízal, P. Hořín, J. Búril, R. Veselská, J. Relichová, A. Mizerová, J. Šmardová, J. Šmarda, B. Vyskot, J. Fajkus, A. Knoll, J. Doškař. Photo: David Povolný

In 2021, her book, ‘What Tumours Teach: Parallels in the Behaviour of Cells and People’, was published in Czech by Munipress. For this publication, she received the Medal for Significant Creative Achievement from the hands of Dean Tomáš Kašparovský, as we wrote here. The interview we published here was mainly about this book. Jana Šmardová also contributed inspiring, personal and open statements on our website for ‘Women in Science, Women at the SCI MUNI’ and during the Teacher’s Day celebration. When asked what her mission was as a teacher, she answered: “It’s beautiful to pass on knowledge and share the fascination with knowledge. Bringing knowledge is a wonderful thing.”

The last farewell

A memorial service to honour the memory of Professor Jana Šmardová and her legacy will take place on Friday, September 8 at 12:00 p.m. in the Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Brno on Mendel Square (Mendlovo náměstí).

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