In memoriam- Kayoko Ishizuka, PhD

USF College of Medicine postdoctoral student Kayoko Ishizuka, PhD, was killed early Saturday, Sept. 25, when she was struck by an SUV while riding her bicycle in the bike lane on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. Dr. Ishizuka was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular Medicine and was riding home at 1:30 a.m. after working at the USF laboratory.

Kayoko Ishizuka, PhD

“Kay was a tremendously talented student and I was proud to have mentored her through her PhD training at the Medical College of Wisconsin,” said Robert J. Deschenes, PhD, professor and chairperson of the Department of Molecular Medicine and associate dean for Research.

“We are deeply heartbroken and saddened by this tragic loss.  She will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.”

“Our greatest asset at USF Health is our students and Kay was among the best and brightest,” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, Senior Vice President of USF Health and Dean of the USF College of Medicine.

“She dedicated her life to finding answers to difficult health problems on a molecular basis. My most sincere condolences go out to her family, fellow students, teachers and everyone who would have been helped by the great research this wonderful scientist was accomplishing.”

Dr. Ishizuka was a native of Japan and came to the United States to do her undergraduate training at Virginia Polytechnic University and her doctoral training at MCW.  She then moved to Tampa to do an interim post-doctoral fellowship at USF while applying for her next position.

Dr. Ishizuka was an avid and experienced cyclist – even building her own bicycles – and was traveling in the bicycle lane, wearing a helmet and using flashing warning lights on her bicycle.

Memorial planned: Her family, colleagues from the department, Dr. Deschenes, and many friends, are holding a lantern ceremony memorial on the USF Tampa campus at Simmons Park (West Pond on Magnolia St., just east of Moffitt) Oct. 1, from 5 to 8 p.m. Her aikido and bicycle clubs are joining in, as well. They have a memorial Facebook page here:

Several offices, the College of Medicine, the department, the graduate school, the dean … have contributed to a travel award in Dr. Ishizuka’s name. Her bravery in studying abroad is an inspiration. If you wish to contribute to the fund, please contact the Department of Molecular Medicine, Dana Cole,