Sarah D. Sally Isaac, who was the project coordinator for a long-term prostate genetic study at Johns Hopkins University, dies – Baltimore Sun

Sarah d. “Sally” Isaacs, who was the project coordinator in the prostate genetics study at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, died Sept. 23 of ovarian cancer at her home in Phoenix, North Baltimore County. She was 72 years old.

“For more than 20 years, Sally has been the coordinator of the Johns Hopkins Brady Institute of Urology study of hereditary prostate cancer,” said Dr. Patrick C. Walsh, professor emeritus of urology and oncology at Johns Hopkins University, who has worked closely with Ms. Isaac.

“It was the heart and soul that made him so successful, offering sympathy as I spoke to thousands of family members surviving the agonizing deaths suffered by so many loved ones,” said Dr. Walsh. “She was a saint.”

The former Sarah Dixon was the daughter of Dr. William T. Dixon, Jr., a psychiatrist and founder of the alcoholism program at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Tucson, and Patricia Mary Coles Dixon, an English teacher at Cooksville High School and St. Instructor at Ignatius Academy of Loyola. Mrs. Isaacs was born in Baltimore and raised in Phoenix, Baltimore County.

She graduated from Calvert School and Bryn Mawr School in 1968. She began her undergraduate studies at American University in Washington and then transferred to Johns Hopkins University in 1970, the first year the university accepted women, breaking 94. Imitate men only.

Mrs. Isaacs received both BA and MA degrees from Hopkins. During the 1970s and 1980s, she worked on research projects involving genetic contributions to learning disabilities, as well as early results of bone marrow transplant procedures at Hopkins and Emory University in Atlanta.

She met her future husband, Dr. John T. Isaacs, when they were two children. Their families were neighbors. They began dating during high school and married in 1971. The couple moved to the same Phoenix property where she grew up and raised their three children.

After her father’s death from metastatic prostate cancer in 1991, Ms. Isaacs worked as a project coordinator at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine studying the identification of genes associated with prostate cancer inheritance. Her work has contributed “significantly to this scientific field,” according to a biography provided by her family.

She was the author of 79 peer-reviewed articles, her first in JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“Sally Isaacs, a behavioral scientist who has spent years studying genetic links to learning disabilities, was chosen to lead a logistics project that could challenge the Census Bureau,” according to a 1996 Baltimore Sun article, when she joined the prostate genes study.

Her husband was an oncologist at Johns Hopkins University who researched ways to control the growth of prostate cancers, and his brother, William Isaacs, was a molecular biologist researching the genetic basis.

“The brothers are constantly talking about these things,” Ms Isaac told The Sun. “That’s all I hear.”

In her role as coordinator, Ms. Isaac telephoned patients whose loved ones had died of prostate cancer. She asked them to fill out questionnaires with details about their health, occupations, and family history. I had them go to their doctors in order to get blood samples, which were sent to Hopkins.

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“Sally called people up and spoke of their husbands, sons, brothers, fathers and grandfathers to remember their illness,” Dr. Walsh said. You cannot be a court reporter. I took the time to get to know them, earn their trust, and have them talk about their deceased loved ones, and I did it from the heart. I think it helped them heal.”

Ms. Isaacs retired in 2014.

She volunteered in the community, mainly for causes related to early education and children’s issues. She was a member of the International Dyslexia Association and volunteered at St Vincent’s Villa in Timonium.

She enjoyed hosting dinners and parties for family and friends and was a competitive tennis player. She has also been a world traveler, a passion she shares with her husband and children.

Mrs. Isaacs was an avid gardener, and was taught to receive the gardener’s certificate upon her death.

She was a reporter for the Catholic Congregation of Saint Francis Xavier, 13717 Cuba Road, in Hunt Valley, where Christian burial service will be given at 10 a.m. October 15.

In addition to her husband of 51 years, she is survived by her son, William J. Isaac of Phoenix. Two daughters, Dr. Catelyn B. Isaac of Washington, Sarah I. Shelfer of Bowie; Brother William T. Dixon of Seattle; Three Sisters, Natalie D. McKinney of Timonium, and Francis D. Romets of Northeast Baltimore and Patricia D. and six grandchildren.

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