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Medical School Writer, Editor Dies After Traffic Accident

By Margaret W. Ho, Contributing Writer

Thomas P. Reynolds, a medical editor and science writer for the Harvard Medical School Dean’s Office and for the Office of Public Affairs, died in his hometown of Swampscott, MA, after sustaining head injuries in a traffic accident on November 6th. He was 44.

The state police are still investigating the cause of the crash.

Writing wasn’t always Reynolds’ intended career. A Massachusetts native, Reynolds pursued his undergraduate education at Boston University and Salem State College. Entering graduate school at the University of Minnesota with the initial goal of studying psychology, Reynolds later switched and earned his master’s in journalism. His job as a psychiatric assistant in the hospitals there provided experience upon which he would later draw.

As his academic advisor and Professor Emeritus Phillip J. Tichenor wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson, “[Reynolds] was an excellent student. He took to writing about health and medical subjects with an unusual degree of knowledge about his subject.”

Colleagues of Reynolds remember him as a supportive friend and co-worker.

“He was an incredibly warm, caring person who enjoyed life out of curiosity,” said Associate Dean of Public Affairs Don Gibbons.

Reynolds’ wife, Maryann, said that while her husband had a voracious intellectual appetite, he always found time for their two sons—more often than not, choosing to play baseball with them rather than eat dinner.

After landing an internship at the National Cancer Institute, Reynolds was transferred to London, remaining abroad for around two years to establish contacts for the institute.

In January of 1996, he returned to Bethesda, Md., remaining with the National Cancer Institute until Harvard Medical School came calling.

“He was the best medical editor I’ve worked with,” said Gibbons, who credits a mutual friend for bringing Reynolds’ talents to his attention.

Reynolds’ intellectual curiosity—with interests ranging from music, and contemporary history to literature—contributed to his prowess as an editor, Gibbons said, adding that his colleague also possessed incredible skill as a writer.

Reynolds’ sister and wife characterized him as a nature lover always ready to see the good in others.

Maryann Reynolds described her husband as always willing to look out for other people, recounting an incident during their stay in London. At a time when racial tensions were especially prevalent, the couple were by Wembley Stadium, she said, when a big, stocky man began harassing a woman, eventually throwing her over a hedge.

“Even though [Tom] knew he could be pummelled by this huge guy, he stepped in to help out the girl. He was willing to step up and not even think of his own safety,” Maryann said.

Reynolds worked with the dean on writing two books that were later published, as well as many projects for the dean’s office.

A member of the National Association of Science Writers, Reynolds occasionally free-lanced for several medical journals and institutions—including the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Medical Association and the Howard Hughes Foundation.

Reynolds is survived by his wife and two children.

“We are filled with grief, and we are devastated by his loss,” HMS spokesperson John Lacey said.

Tichenor echoed the sentiment, writing, “The world has lost another person who was immersed in the subject about which he was writing, and who loved the process of communicating to those who could benefit from the information.”

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