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June 12, 2014

Obituary: John A. Barranger

Gene therapy researcher John A. Barranger, a former faculty member in the Graduate School of Public Health Department of Human Genetics and in the School of Medicine’s departments of molecular genetics and biochemistry and of pediatrics, died May 25, 2014, at his home in Pittsburgh. He was 68.

A graduate of Loyola College, Barranger earned Ph.D. and M.D. degrees at the University of Southern California and completed a pediatrics residency at the University of Minnesota.

He was instrumental in developing an enzyme replacement treatment for Gaucher disease, an inherited disorder in which an enzyme deficiency prevents lipids from breaking down in the body, damaging organs and other tissue. The treatment, developed during Barranger’s fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, became a model for treating other lysosomal diseases.

He joined the University faculty in 1990. At Pitt, Barranger developed and directed the Human Gene Therapy Applications Laboratory, the Center for the Study and Treatment of Jewish Genetic Diseases and the Comprehensive Gaucher Disease Treatment Center. He was co-director of the Human Gene Therapy Center and medical director of the Molecular Medicine Institute.

He left the University in 2005.

Most recently, Barranger founded the Lysosomal Storage Disease Clinical Care Network to establish treatment centers nationwide.

He is survived by his wife, Erin Patricia Barranger; children Erik Barranger, Julia Coughenour, Eric Rice, Alex Barranger, Patrick Rice and Lindsay Rice; and grandchildren Emma Barranger, Everly Coughenour and Clara Cate Rice.

Memorial services were private. Memorial gifts may be made to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 6 Herndon Ave., Annapolis, MD 21403 ( and the Children’s Gaucher Research Fund, P.O. Box 2123, Granite Bay, CA 95746 (

—Kimberly K. Barlow