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February 4, 2016

Obituary: Michael D. McDermott

obit.McDermottLongtime staff member Michael D. McDermott, 55, died on Jan. 25, 2016, when the bicycle he was riding was struck by a vehicle on Ardmore Boulevard in Wilkinsburg.

McDermott earned an M.S. in information science from Pitt in 1992 after getting a B.S. in psychology from Slippery Rock University in 1985. He spent his entire career at Pitt, beginning as an intern at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in 1985. There he worked under then-psychiatry faculty member Rena Wing, joining her staff to work in data management and information technology.

From 2001-04, he was a staff member in the School of Medicine’s medicine department, rising from research associate on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to systems analyst, database manager and finally systems/programmer in the Obesity/Nutrition Research Center and the behavioral weight control program.

In 2004, he was hired by John Jakicic, director of the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center in the School of Education’s Department of Health and Physical Activity, as systems and data manager, handling databases and computer networking.

Elizabeth M. Venditti, faculty member in psychiatry and epidemiology, recalls working with McDermott during his earliest days at the University: “He was responsible for setting up and managing the databases for scores of graduate students and faculty conducting NIH grants, and helped numerous people with data for their master’s and doctoral theses — all with a very calm and soothing demeanor in territory that [made] many of us researchers anxious.

“He also helped many of us transition to today’s taken-for-granted workplace that involves desktop and laptop computers. He literally explained to me what ‘the World Wide Web’ meant and how to write my first inter-office email.”

Adds Marsha D. Marcus, faculty member in psychiatry and psychology, and another early Pitt colleague of McDermott’s: “Mike was a kind man and dedicated worker … totally unflappable, steady and thoughtful. He was completely dedicated to his wife Lori and son Drew, and to the rest of his family — his work family, too. He was a passionate outdoorsman and committed bicyclist.

“Mike was highly regarded by everyone who knew him, and he will be sorely missed.”

Jakicic fondly recalls McDermott’s passion for the outdoors, from skiing, golfing and hiking to competing in triathlons, marathons and cycling events.

In addition to his wife and son, McDermott is survived by his mother, Verna McDermott; sister Susan Milewski and Raymond; sister Verna Budz and Stephen; stepsister Patricia Nixon and Allen; stepsister Michele Hubert and James; nephews and nieces Matthew Milewski; Jessica, Jaqueline and Joshua Budz; and Colin and Stacey Hursen; and sister-in-law Janice Hursen and Wayne.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Pittsburgh Major Taylor Cycling Club ( or the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (

—Marty Levine

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