Skeletal Research Center researcher and Biology adjunct assistant professor Mike Sorrell passes away

For 34 years, J. Michael “Mike” Sorrell worked side-by-side with Skeletal Research Center (SRC) founder Arnold Caplan and countless other researchers from across the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine. As senior research associate and the director of the Monoclonal Antibody Facility within the SRC, Sorrell’s work played a major role in the advancement of regenerative medicine.

The university community is mourning the passing of Sorrell following a brief illness on June 11.  

Photo of Mike Sorrell

“I cherished the time that I spent with Mike as we explored a shared interest in history and current events,” said research associate Jonathan Kenyon. “I am reminded of his sense of humor and recall numerous occasions when he would deliver a witty comment with an anticipatory grin, inviting us to share in his humorous perspective.”

Sorrell, who received his bachelor’s degree and PhD from Temple University, focused much of his research around connective tissues, extracellular matrix, cells that produce those matrices and dermal fibroblasts to study their interactions with vascular cells. He endeavored to design a new generation of tissue engineered organs and to understand the role of fibroblast in wound repair.  

“Mike’s passion for science was evident, despite his reserved demeanor,” said colleague and Senior Research Associate Rodrigo Palacios. “He could engage in extensive discussions about his research and scientific topics in general.” 

While Sorrell joined the biology department as an adjunct assistant professor in 2011, he continued to maintain his SRC office and contributed as a researcher up until his recent passing. 

He was proud of his work with L’Oreal Life Sciences to study human dermal fibroblasts and function in human skin, and with the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine on Hyaluronan as a topical delivery vehicle for wound repair, and for burn and wound healing.

Born in Covington, Kentucky, Sorrell was a veteran of the Army National Guard of Pennsylvania where he attained the rank of sergeant. He enjoyed traveling, country music and watching movies. Sorrell also had a passion for history.

Although his parents and brother preceded him in death, Sorrell developed close friendships with coworkers he considered family. He will be missed by many and leaves behind a wealth of memories in the hearts of all who knew him.