Gilbert Olivier Duvalsaint, a sophomore
biomolecular engineering major, died Oct. 26 at Union
Memorial Hospital. He was 19.
Duvalsaint had been taken to the hospital early in the
morning from his residence at the Bradford Apartments with
what he thought was an allergic reaction. His condition
deteriorated very quickly, and he died hours later.
Preliminary tests the following day suggested that the
cause of death was most likely meningococcal infection,
which can lead to bacterial meningitis.
Born on March 6, 1986, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Duvalsaint
moved with his family in 1998 to Searingtown on Long
Island, N.Y. A 2004 graduate of Herricks High School, he
had entered the Krieger
School as an undeclared major but switched to the Whiting School on
Sept. 26. He told his new faculty adviser that he was
originally focused on biology but that his fondness for
mathematics prompted him to change to a major that involved
more quantitative analysis. He planned to attend medical
school after graduating from Johns Hopkins.
Duvalsaint was a music enthusiast with a special love
for hip-hop and an avid poker player who was trying to
organize a poker tournament among various fraternities on
A member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, he was an
active volunteer for that organization. He also served as a
student adviser, assisting new students during orientation,
and as a Hopkins Student Ambassador, helping prospective
students and their families learn more about Johns Hopkins.
The Admissions staff considered him an ideal representative
of the university because he was so friendly and
"He was a well-loved and well-respected member of our
community," wrote Susan Boswell, dean of student life, in
an e-mail last week to Homewood students, faculty and
staff. "As a university, we all are the poorer for his
As of press time, funeral arrangements and plans for a
memorial observance had not been finalized.
The university on Thursday informed all Homewood
faculty, staff and students that the bacteria that likely
caused Duvalsaint's death is transmitted only through very
close contact with the infected person. Those who had been
in close contact with Duvalsaint were notified that they
should report that day to the Student Health and Wellness
Center to begin a precautionary course of antibiotics.
Maryland law requires that students living in
university housing be vaccinated against meningitis or sign
a waiver. Duvalsaint had been vaccinated, but the vaccine
is not 100 percent effective and is ineffective against the
form of the bacteria found in Duvalsaint's blood, which
causes up to 30 percent of the meningococcal disease in the