Dr. Alexandra (Shura) Vaisman, of Bethesda, passed away on Sept. 28 after a decades-long struggle with cancer. She was 59. A native of Chernovtsy (then Soviet Union, now Ukraine), she was her high school valedictorian and received all her subsequent degrees with highest distinction, including a master’s degree in chemical technology (1985) and a Ph.D. in polymer chemistry (1989), both from the Moscow Institute of Fine Chemical Technology. Her dissertation research was focused on the development of synthetic blood substitutes and innovative polymer medical devices.
In the late 1980s, she was part of a group of scientists studying the chemical synthesis of early anti-AIDS drugs. In the 1990s, she was a research scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she investigated platinum-based anti-cancer drugs. Since 2000 she worked at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in Bethesda, specializing in research relating to DNA replication and repair, and other fields. She co-authored over 60 scientific articles and collaborated with many prominent scientists.
She created some of the first websites devoted to Yiddish culture, produced a number of short animated films and was a co-illustrator for “In Eynem,” a language textbook produced by the Yiddish Book Center.
She is survived by her beloved husband, Iosif Vaisman, of Bethesda; her parents, Maksim and Faina Yakobzon, of Silver Spring; her daughter and son-in-law, Asya Vaisman Schulman and Sebastian Schulman; and her granddaughter, Tzina Schulman, of Montreal.