Pioneer of angiogenesis in cancer treatment dies

16 Jan 2008
Judah Folkman, M.D. (1933-2008)

Judah Folkman, director of the vascular biology program at Children’s Hospital Boston and the Andrus professor of paediatric surgery and professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School, died suddenly January 14, 2008. He was 74.

Internationally renowned as a pioneer in the field of angiogenesis research, Dr. Folkman’s landmark discovery that cutting off a cancerous tumour’s blood supply inhibited its growth and ability to spread revolutionised cancer treatment.

Dr. Folkman's laboratory was the first to purify angiogenic protein from a tumour, basic research which led to the discovery of the first angiogenesis inhibitors and ultimately to clinical trials of anti-angiogenic therapy.

Today, angiogenesis inhibitors such as Avastin, Tarceva and Macugen have received approval in the US and similar regulatory approval in 27 other countries for the treatment of cancer and/or macular degeneration.

Dr. Folkman's research provides a firm scientific foundation for the pursuit of anti-angiogenic therapy, not only for the treatment of cancer, but for many non-neoplastic diseases.
“Judah Folkman’s passing is a tremendous and tragic loss for humankind,” said American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) head Margaret Foti. “In addition to his brilliant and distinguished cancer research career, Judah was highly regarded by the cancer community as a supportive mentor, a dedicated teacher, and esteemed colleague. His legacy of discovery and ingenuity in the field of angiogenesis will continue to inspire cancer researchers and give hope to countless individuals living with the disease. He was certainly a valued friend of the AACR and we extend our deepest condolences to the Folkman family.”

Through his work with the AACR and through leadership and advisory positions with a host of prestigious scientific institutions and organisations such as the National Institutes of Health, The National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Paediatric Surgical Association, Dr. Folkman helped to define the field of cancer and biomedical research.