UC San Diego neuroscientist and two other people missing after fire in Montreal historical building

Firefighters continue the search for victims March 20 at the scene of a fire in Montreal.
(Ryan Remiorz / Associated Press)

An Wu had been staying at the building while attending a conference when a fire broke out March 16.


A neuroscientist at UC San Diego called “a future leader of the field” remains missing after a fire last week destroyed a Montreal building where she had been staying during a conference.

An Wu is among three people still missing after an early-morning fire March 16 destroyed the building in a historical neighborhood known as Old Montreal, where friends said she had been renting.

Montreal emergency workers have recovered four bodies, officials said March 23. They are still trying to determine what sparked the blaze that extensively damaged the building, which was built in 1890.

Montreal officials said seven people were reported to have been in the building at the time of the fire.

According to a webpage for the Komiyama Lab at UC San Diego in La Jolla, where she worked as a researcher, Wu is from Anhui in south China and studied biology at Wuhan University. She then attended the University of Miami, where she studied neuroscience. She has been at UCSD for six years.

UCSD professor Takaki Komiyama posted a statement on social media praising his friend and colleague, whom he called a “central member of our laboratory.”

“She is creative, fearless and forward-thinking, with a constant desire to learn,” he wrote. “The level of growth that she has demonstrated in the past six years with us, both as a scientist and as a human being, is remarkable.

“She is a tremendous scientist who makes extremely difficult projects look easy. She is a uniquely talented neuroscientist and a future leader of the field in the making.”

Komiyama also called Wu “a beloved and loyal friend” who fills others with her “inexhaustible energy and optimism.”

“She has so much more life to live. ... Our hearts are broken with the possibility of our worst fear becoming reality,” Komiyama added.

A GoFundMe campaign was launched at to raise money to help Wu’s parents in traveling from China to Montreal and San Diego. As of March 23, it had raised more than $53,000. ◆