Judah Folkman, MD, cancer research pioneer, mourned

January 31, 2008

Judah Folkman, MD, whose groundbreaking work involving tumor angiogenesis led to the development of targeted therapies for the disease, died Jan. 14 in Denver of an apparent heart attack. He was 74.

Judah Folkman, MD, whose groundbreaking work involving tumor angiogenesis led to the development of targeted therapies for the disease, died Jan. 14 in Denver of an apparent heart attack. He was 74.

At the time of his death, Dr. Folkman was director of the vascular biology program, Julia Dyckman Andrus Professor of Pediatric Surgery, and professor of cell biology at Children’s Hospital in Boston, where he formerly was surgeon-in-chief.

As a U.S. Navy lieutenant at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, Dr. Folkman noticed that tumors in rodents died when deprived of their blood supply. His research identified two natural compounds, endostatin and angiostatin, capable of shrinking and eradicating cancer in mice. His discoveries were the genesis for targeted therapies for cancer and age-related macular degeneration.

Dr. Folkman graduated cum laude from The Ohio State University, Columbus, and magna cum laude in medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston. He was the author of 389 original peer-reviewed papers and 106 book chapters and monographs.

In an interview published in March 2001, Dr. Folkman told Urology Times: “There are still a few naysayers who tell me that they firmly believe that tumors do not need new blood vessels to grow to be lethal. Naysayers are common, and I think they just come with the territory.”

He is survived by his wife, Paula, two daughters, and a granddaughter.