The Biosciences Area and Berkeley Lab community will miss Gertrude “Trudy” Maria Forte, who died on June 9, 2021. Trudy Forte served as a senior scientist in the Life Sciences Division from 1978 to 2004.
Forte was born in Wayne, Pennsylvania, in 1937, and grew up in the countryside learning to love plants and animals from an early age. She graduated magna cum laude from Immaculata College with a Bachelor of Arts in biology and received a National Science Foundation predoctoral fellowship to attend the University of Pennsylvania for her PhD in zoology.
Forte and her late husband, John, relocated to California in the 1960s and she began her postdoctoral training at the University of California, Berkeley, shortly thereafter. During her nearly 30-year tenure with Berkeley Lab, she was involved in researching lipid and protein roles in cardiovascular disease. While working with the lipoprotein research group she helped to perfect electron microscopic techniques for determining structural features of lipoprotein particles. She used this methodology on model systems to demonstrate how high-density lipoprotein (HDL) changes shape as it matures. As a scientist at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute from 2004 to 2017, Forte followed a new direction in research developing and testing lipid nanoparticles for drug delivery.
Forte’s professional accomplishments were recognized with numerous honors and awards over her career; highlights include the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Outstanding Performance Award (1992), the Associated Western Universities honor of Distinguished Lecturer (1994), the American Heart Association Special Recognition Award (1999), and the first annual AHA Mentor of Women Award (2001), and Jack Oram High Density Lipoprotein Award (2018).
Laura Knoff, a former senior research associate with Berkeley Lab, shared a remembrance online: “I worked with Trudy at LBL from 1992–2000 and was in awe of her abilities and stamina. I learned so much from her. She was truly a role model for women in science and will be sorely missed.”
Outside of work, Forte was a music enthusiast who enjoyed playing piano and was an active member and chorister of the Saint Mary Magdalen Parish in Berkeley. She will be remembered as an accomplished scientist, an active supporter of her community, an excellent cook, and an exceptional mother and “Nonna” (grandmother).
Read more in this obituary published in SFGate.
A memorial service will be held for Forte on Saturday, August 21, at 11:00 AM at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Berkeley.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.