The Brigham and Department of Radiology mourn the loss of Jean Valk, director of Research Programs in Radiology, who passed away Feb. 16 following a sudden illness. She was 57.
Part of the Brigham family for 37 years, Ms. Valk is remembered as a devoted, supportive and thoughtful colleague and friend who worked tirelessly with her team to shepherd the department’s investigators and research administrators through grant preparations and applications.
“The day I got my first grant, she was the first person I called to share the news. She was one of those people who was always there to cheer you on,” said Clare Tempany, MD, vice chair of Research in Radiology, who had worked closely with Ms. Valk for more than two decades.
Colleagues in the department deeply admired — and depended on — Ms. Valk’s encyclopedic knowledge of the ever-evolving, highly complex grant-application processes of various funding agencies. On the cusp of a submission deadline, it was not uncommon to see Ms. Valk exchanging emails with investigators late into the evening as she continued helping them put the finishing touches on an application just moments before it was due.
“She didn’t want the investigator who excels at writing about their science to be struck down for funding because the font size on their application was wrong. Jean was really good with those kinds of details,” Tempany said. “She enjoyed helping somebody get over a hurdle. She would come in the next morning and proudly say, ‘We got it over the finish line!’”
Patti Goldberger, senior director of Research and Education in Radiology, said it was clear Ms. Valk loved her work and embraced any opportunity to support her colleagues.
“Her loyalty and dedication to not only the job but also the people she worked with were always so impressive to me,” Goldberger said. “She really enjoyed doing her part in whatever way she could.”
In addition to her remarkable expertise in research funding, Ms. Valk was cherished by her colleagues for her composure and sense of humor in the face of any challenge that arose.
“No job was too big or too small. She handled everything with the same patience, politeness and gentle calmness,” Tempany said. “She was a true researcher’s friend in this whole adventure.”
In 2010, she was part of a team that earned a Partners in Excellence Award for establishing a collaborative relationship between Research Administration professionals at the Brigham and Partners HealthCare. By bringing the two groups together, Ms. Valk and her colleagues sought to make the meetings not only meaningful but also into opportunities to enrich camaraderie.
Steven Seltzer, MD, FACR, chair emeritus of Radiology, said Ms. Valk will be deeply missed throughout the department and the Brigham community.
“Her lovely demeanor and calm, comforting style made her a wonderful colleague and a friend to many in our organization,” Seltzer said.
Outside of work, Ms. Valk enjoyed spending time with her family and was especially devoted to her daughter, Caroline. Her other hobbies and interests included reading and cooking.
Ms. Valk was predeceased by her husband, Hank Pahl. She is survived by their daughter, Caroline Pahl, her parents, siblings and in-laws.