Reporter Cheryl Clark of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote:
"As a scientist, Thal was a meticulous, humble, creative, diplomatic and unflappable mensch who helped design and conduct clinical trials to determine whether certain substances might stop progression of the disease, the speakers said during a memorial service at UCSD."Clark continued:
"'I really believe he was the world's leading investigator in the testing of new therapies,' said Neil Buckholtz, who leads the dementias of aging branch for the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Md. "He gave hope for millions of people . . . because of his ability to forge consensus and his commitment to the principles of science.'"Speakers also addressed other aspects of Thal's life: gardening, travel and flying cross-country in his small plane. They spoke of how he continued to drive his 1985 Toyota to work because "it still ran."
"Donna Thal fought back tears as she described some of her husband's idiosyncrasies. For example, he picked up trash while jogging and 'mended his socks even with holes as big as a half dollar,' she said."
CIRM has named the first-ever research grants awarded by the institute after Thal. UC San Diego has announced creation of a training fund for promising neuroscientists. The university said:
"Donations to this fund can be made online at http://neurosciences.ucsd.edu/neurocentral/memorial.htm, or checks may be made payable to UC San Diego Foundation, referencing Fund #4467, Thal Educational Scholarship (on memo line of check) and sent to: UCSD Neurosciences Development, c/o Leon J. Thal Educational Scholarship Fund; 9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0853; La Jolla, CA 92093-0853."Thal, 62, died last month in the crash of his plane in the Southern California desert.