Vaccine expert Miroslav David Poulik dies at 93

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Dr. Miroslav David Poulik, a former chief of immunopathology at William Beaumont Hospital, was credited for helping pave the way for modern vaccines and antibodies.

“Dave was a brilliant medical scientist ...,” Bruce Babiarz, said of his father-in-law, known as ‘Dr. Dave.’ “He used to say it was the most fantastic time in advancing the science of medicine and he dedicated his life to this cause.”

Dr. Poulik, a former Grosse Pointe Woods resident, died Thursday in Panama City, Florida. He was 93.

Born June 6, 1923, in Brno, Czechoslovakia, Dr. Poulik graduated from the Masaryk University School of Medicine in Brno in 1948.

Among millions of people displaced from Europe after World War II, Dr. Poulik was sent to Toronto, Canada as a farm hand, according to his family. There he met his wife Emily, originally from Lithuania, at a church dance. They married in 1950.

With the encouragement of his wife to pursue his love of medicine, Dr. Poulik attended the University of Toronto Medical School and graduated in 1960, his family said.

Dr. Poulik worked for the American Red Cross in Washington D.C. and Children’s Hospital of Michigan before he was recruited to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. He worked there from 1976-92 and retired as chief of immunopathology.

His work on a medical research team on immunoglobulins, or antibodies, led to two colleagues receiving the Nobel Prize in 1972.

Dr. Poulik was a professor of immunology at Wayne State University and adjunct professor of biological sciences at Oakland University. He was also an advisor to the World Health Organization in Lausanne, Switzerland and a consultant to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In 1997, Dr. Poulik earned a medal of honor from the Masaryk University School of Medicine, Babiarz said.

Beyond his accomplishments, his family said they will remember Dr. Poulik for his sense of humor.

“He liked to laugh,” said his daughter Dr. Janet Poulik. “He made everybody laugh. Even the day he died he was a funny guy.”

Dr. Poulik enjoyed cigars, sports and American luxury cars, his family said. He was a world traveler and fluent in languages including Czech, German, French and Russian.

In addition to his son-in-law and daughter, Dr. Poulik is survived by his wife Emily and daughter Michele Poulik.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Memorials may be made to Beaumont Foundation, P.O. Box 5802, Troy, MI 48007-5802.