D. Kent Morest, M.D., age 86, passed away on December 30, 2020 in Cambridge, MA. Born in Kansas City, MO on October 4,1934 to F. Stanley Morest, M.D. and Clara J. Morest, he left high school at age 16 to attend the University of Chicago (AB ‘55). He went on to Yale Medical School (M.D. ‘60), during which time he spent a year as a Foreign Fellow of Yale at University College London. It was there that he discovered his lifelong passion for neuroanatomy and developmental neurobiology of the auditory system.
Dr. Morest has been described by his peers as “the father of modern neuroanatomy of the auditory system.” One colleague referred to him as an “outstanding scientist, teacher, mentor, and educator.” Another simply called him “a scientist’s scientist.”
His studies laid the groundwork for physiologists to investigate central auditory signal processing. His work on the auditory system led to his interest in developmental neurobiology, and he later embarked on groundbreaking research in the development of neurons. His neuronal work inspired one colleague to call Dr. Morest “the most authoritative, the most widely cited, and the most prolific source of fundamental knowledge on the organization of the brain devoted to the analysis of sound.” He then turned to understanding the processes that lead to hearing loss from exposure to loud noises, research that he hoped would lead to a method to reverse such loss.
Dr. Morest was instrumental in developing the Neuroscience Doctoral Program and was the driving force in creating the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Connecticut, where he served on the faculty from 1977 until his retirement in 2012.
He received many awards and accolades over the course of his career, including the prestigious Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award in 1984, the Claude Pepper Award in 1990, and the award of which he was most proud, a Professional Achievement Citation from The University of Chicago in 2009. He authored, co-authored, and edited many articles and several books.
In his spare time, Dr. Morest was an accomplished amateur flutist, performing with the Musical Club of Hartford. He also enjoyed playing badminton and Slavic folk dancing.
He was predeceased by his wife, Rosemary Richtmyer Morest in 2002. He is survived by his daughter, Lydia Morest of Arlington, MA; his son, D. Claude Morest and his wife Vanessa of Weston, CT; his granddaughter, Aurora Kelly; and two grandsons, Henry and Freddy Morest.
A private memorial service will be held at the convenience of the family. Burial will be in Simsbury Cemetery. There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Parkinson’s Foundation at https://www.parkinson.org/.Vincent Funeral Home has charge of arrangements. Please visit Dr. Morest's "Book of Memories" at www.vincentfuneralhome.com for online tributes.