In Memoriam: Bob Nelson

Dr. Robert P. Nelson, Jr, or Bob, as he was known to his friends and colleagues, died on December 9, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Bob was a long-standing member of CIS, and deeply loved the field of clinical immunology, hematology and bone marrow transplantation.


Bob was born on Feb 28, 1954 in Racine, Wisconsin and trained as an immunologist with Dr. Robert A. Good at the University of South Florida. Following his training in Allergy and Immunology he remained as a faculty member at USF for 12 years. During this time, he created the first clinics for both pediatric and adult patients affected with HIV when limited therapies were available, which gave patients hope and access to novel therapies. He led the bone marrow transplant program for primary immunodeficiency diseases at All Children’s Hospital, and was a mentor and teacher for many Allergy and Immunology fellows. In 1999, he was recruited to IU where he created the first primary immunodeficiency clinic, and followed his passion of understanding and caring for bone marrow transplant patients.


Bob worked as an immunologist and bone marrow transplant physician at Indiana University Health and Riley Children’s in Indianapolis till his retirement in the autumn of 2021 as a Professor at I.U. School of Medicine. Bob had a deep and life-long passion for learning, and faithfully attended CIS meetings year after year. He was an enormously talented and compassionate physician, and an outstanding mentor to many junior colleagues and trainees. Bob was an early member of, and a passionate advocate for NICER (North American Immunohematology Consortium for Clinical, Education and Research), and contributed to the mission of NICER is his usual, under-stated manner with tremendous impact on the organization and members.


Besides his passion for medicine, Bob had an insatiable curiosity, and was accomplished in many areas, including playing the guitar and piano. When the CIS Foundation band was created in 2019, Bob became one of the inaugural members of the IMMUNOGOBLINS, and played the guitar for the band’s maiden performance in Atlanta, Georgia. It took some arm-twisting to get him to play, as he was a naturally modest and self-effacing person. His humility, empathy, and keen intellect are qualities we remember and cherish.


His passing is a deep loss to our field of clinical immunology because we lost not only an outstanding and thoughtful clinician, but a dear friend, mentor and colleague, whose grace, dignity and humility exemplified qualities worth possessing and cultivating.


Bob is survived by his sister, Karen Nelson Moser, and his niece, Dr. Madeleine Manka and her family, and numerous friends and colleagues around the country and globe. We recognize his life and contributions with gratitude. If you wish to make a donation to the CIS Foundation in honor of Dr. Bob Nelson, please send a check made to the CIS Foundation with the appropriate notification.


Jay Jin, MD, Maite de la Morena, MD, Kelly Walkovich, MD, Roshini S. Abraham, PhD