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Who is Linda Crnic?

Beloved Doctor Died in 2004


Linda Crnic

CU Professor Linda S. Crnic of pediatrics and psychiatry died on Sept. 11, 2004, from head injuries suffered in a biking accident in Oregon. She was 56.

Dr. Crnic was born on March 29, 1948, in Ft. Wayne, Ind., the daughter of Herman and Patricia Smith. She married Stan L. Wilks.

She received a bachelor's degree with honors from the University of Chicago in 1970, a master of arts in experimental psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1972 and her Ph.D. in experimental psychology from UIC in 1975.

She completed a fellowship in nutrition and metabolism at the CU School of Medicine from 1975-77, and in 1977 joined the SOM faculty as an instructor. She was named an assistant professor in 1978 and was promoted to associate professor in 1985. She became a full professor in 1994.

Dr. Crnic was named director of the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at the SOM in 2001. She also was the driving force behind creation of the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group at the school and was a senior fellow adjoint at the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

"Linda's vision and generosity have been a department treasure," M. Douglas Jones, chair of the department of pediatrics, said in a campus e-mail message. "Just one example: as a Ph.D. she founded and built the residents' academic track for many years, while building an international reputation for her research in Down syndrome."

Jones added that Dr. Crnic's passion for collaborative programs associated with mental retardation and developmental disabilities led to her active involvement with the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at CU, as well as work with investigators at the University of Denver and Colorado State University.

"Linda understood better than most the power of putting together a broad network of scholars within and across campuses," Jones said. "She was also active with Down syndrome families, working locally and traveling with them to Washington, D.C., to make the case for better support for care and research. Linda's energy and breadth of vision will be difficult to replace."

Dr. Crnic was the principal or co-investigator on a number of research projects related to mental retardation and Down syndrome. She was the author or co-author of dozens of scholarly papers and articles, and gave numerous invited talks in the United States and other countries. She had applied for a patent on Digital video technology for automated scoring of behavior.

She provided many years of service and leadership to the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology, serving as secretary/treasurer (1983-86) and president (1996-97). She was chair of the Rocky Mountain Region Neuroscience Group (1983-86) and a member of the Scientific Council of the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (1997-2000). She was selected for Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine training for 2003-04. She also was a member of the Society for Neuroscience and Behavioral Teratology Society.

At CU, Dr. Crnic was a member of numerous departmental and campus committees and panels, including the Pediatrics Residency Program Committee (1990-2000), the SOM Committee on the Status of Women (1993-2004), the SOM Faculty Senate (1998-2004) and the Indirect Costs Variance Committee (1998-2004). She also was a lecturer in the Mini-Medical School lecture series and organizer of new faculty orientation retreats.

She is survived her husband of Denver; a son, Michael Smith Wilks; three sisters, Jacqueline Susmark, Debora Smith and her husband Brent, and Janine Bisbee and her husband Steve. She was preceded in death by her parents.

A celebration of life service was held on Sept. 18 at Horan & McConaty Family Chapel in Denver.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Linda Crnic Down Syndrome Memorial Fund, care of the CU Foundation, attention Cheryl Crouch, 4200 E. Ninth Ave., Campus Box A065, Denver, CO 80262.

From the CU Archives