Regina McGlinchey, distinguished scientist in clinical neuroscience research in the service of Veterans Health, passed away on April 12, 2023, only days after her 64th birthday.
The daughter of Richard and Katherine McGlinchey, Regina was a Westford MA girl, who graduated from Westford Academy and Lowell University. During her senior year as a psychology major at Lowell University, her older sister Susan age 28 suffered a stroke leaving her with limited speech and diminished dexterity. Regina and her advisor hypnotized Susan in an attempt to “wake up” undamaged parts of her brain to help her express herself verbally and in writing. While that work was never published, it became the basis for her acceptance to graduate school and her life-long dedication to continue to work finding ways for people who suffer from stroke or other neurological problems to find their islands of preserved abilities that can be used to compensate for their limitations.
Even before receiving her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at Tufts University in 1991, she worked as a psychology technician first starting in 1984 at the now long closed Court Street VA Outpatient Clinic, continuing in this capacity even while she completed her graduate work. Her dissertation on how stroke patients who suffered from hemi spatial neglect were able to extract meaning from visual information they were not consciously aware of proved to be groundbreaking and a landmark study in contemporary cognitive neuroscience. As Gina found her stride in her career, she continued in the vein of adapting measures used in basic experimental neuroscience to study how the central nervous system was impacted by diseases and conditions endemic to the Veterans population. She conducted critical and innovative research on dementia and alcoholism that solidified her national and international reputation as a scientist. In 2008 when the VA and country were faced with a new generation of Veterans returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with complex and devastating challenges to their mental and physical health, she helped found the Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders (TRACTS) to conduct the research needed to address these problems in a rigorous and effective manner. TRACTS became the crown jewel of her career, producing hundreds of important studies and new techniques to assess and treat this generation of Veterans. Even as the recent medical issues Gina faced challenged her ability to work, she was unrelentingly devoted to her research and the Veterans who were affected by the trauma of their combat experiences. At the time of her passing, she was a Health Science Specialist based in the Boston Division of the New England Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) and a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Though the academic world knew well of her work, locally her impact extended well beyond her intellectual talents, as she was an indefatigable mentor and general problem solver for decades of VA Boston and Harvard Medical School trainees and post-doctoral fellows. She always found time to extensively revise and edit new grants and manuscripts, helping many young scientists establish their own careers, often without public credit or fanfare. She used her wisdom and boundless energy to help her colleagues whenever the opportunity presented itself, always with a quiet humility and unselfish devotion. Her excellence as a mentor was recognized by Harvard Medical School with the award of the Stuart Hauser MD, Ph.D. Mentorship Award for 2021.
Gina led a double life, the life of a scientist and colleague as documented, but also that of an agriculturalist running a 900 tree apple orchard near the Merrimack Valley with her beloved husband Keith Bohne. During most seasons, when she packed her papers into her shoulder briefcase, she would head out to help with the endless pruning, mowing, and spraying that were required to grow apples in the Northeastern United States. When the crop came in every fall, she would bring in bag after bag of spectacularly delicious apples, to the delight of her trainees and colleagues, and anyone who happened to be visiting the lab during that period.
In addition to Gina’s double careers, she always made time for her family. She was an excellent cook and her home was the gathering place for family milestones and holidays. She loved entertaining her California nephews on their summer visits to Westford. With Keith, she reveled in skiing the deep powder of Alta and the glades of Vermont’s mountains, and biking the hilly roads of Westford, Vermont, and Novia Scotia. The terrain around the Normandy Beaches, where her father landed on June 6, 1944, was next on her bucket list. One of Gina’s greatest pleasures was relaxing on her deck at the end of the day watching the sun set over the orchard and grooving to Beatles tunes.
Gina will be long remembered for her prodigious scientific achievements, but her kindness, generosity, and personal devotion is what will leave the greatest void for the many people whose lives she touched.
Gina is survived by her husband, Keith Bohne, of Westford, MA, a sister, Karen Foss (Paul) of Franconia, NH, and a brother, Michael McGlinchey (Jeanine) of Charlotte, NC, nieces Sarah Cloos (Tom) of Waxhaw, NC, and Anne Thompson (John), El Cerrito, CA, nephews Scott Roy (Brian), of Fort Myers, FL, John Foss, Franconia, Alex Foss (Katarina), Franconia, NH, stepdaughters Lisa Bohne, Lyndeboro, NH, and Lorin Hill of Groton, MA and a stepson, Jeffrey Bohne of Westford, MA. Gina is predeceased by a sister, Susan Roy, of Bartlett, NH, and a brother William McGlinchey, of Weare, NH.
Gina's Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 11:00 AM in the First Parish Church United, 48 Main Street, Westford. Luncheon to follow in the church hall. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA.org).