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Judah Folkman dies

Judah Folkman, a proponent of the idea that halting angiogenesis could starve tumors, died yesterday at the age of 74. According to news reports, the cause of death was a heart attack. The promise of anti-angiogenesis therapies led to many high hopes for Folkman's work, particularly when the New York Times ran a linkurl:1998 story;http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Folkmans-War-Angiogenesis-Struggle/dp/0375502440 quoting James Watson's prediction that Folkman would cure cancer in two years. Folkman "wa

By | January 15, 2008

Judah Folkman, a proponent of the idea that halting angiogenesis could starve tumors, died yesterday at the age of 74. According to news reports, the cause of death was a heart attack. The promise of anti-angiogenesis therapies led to many high hopes for Folkman's work, particularly when the New York Times ran a linkurl:1998 story;http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Folkmans-War-Angiogenesis-Struggle/dp/0375502440 quoting James Watson's prediction that Folkman would cure cancer in two years. Folkman "was upset about that," recalled Rakesh Jain, a colleague of Folkman's at Harvard. "He knew that it would take time. He was realistic about it. But he was also optimistic, " said Jain. That optimism inspired Folkman to continue pursuing anti-angiogenesis therapies after they failed to live up to their early hype, and in 2004, the FDA approved the linkurl:first biological therapy;http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/AvastinFactSheet that blocked the formation of new blood vessels to tumors. "That optimism did translate into something," Jain told me by phone this afternoon. According to ISI, Folkman authored over 500 papers, which collectively accumulated nearly 75,000 citations. You can read here, in Folkman's own words, the linkurl:story of his discovery;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13658/ of the first angiogenic protein. Jain met Folkman 25 years ago when Jain invited the researcher to give a talk on tumor pathophysiology to MIT students. When Jain moved to Harvard, Folkman continued to lecture for his students as recently as last September. Jain recalled Folkman as generous, creative, and with a vision that enabled him to connect different areas. "He inspired all of us to work in this area," Jain said. "I think he was a most incredible human being," Jain added. "This is so unexpected. We were going to celebrate his 75th birthday in a month." Have any stories about Folkman? Share them with us in a comment.
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Comments

Avatar of: Dung Le

Dung Le

Posts: 17

January 15, 2008

I came to know about Dr. Folkman while I was a PhD Candidate in S. Korea. In the "Cancer Biology" class, we read many articles about Angiogenesis and anti-angiogenesis, during that time, I was introduced a book "Dr. Folkman's War". It was a good book for graduate students and I read it twice, once during the course I took (we had to make photocopy of the book to read). When I came to the USA, the first book I ordered is "Dr. Folkman's War".\n\nI learned a lot from the book, not only his creative , out-of-the-box thinking but also about the competitiveness in doing researches.\n\nMay his soul rest in peace!\n
Avatar of: Ben Prickril

Ben Prickril

Posts: 4

January 16, 2008

I am very sad to hear of Dr. Folkman's passing. According to the NY Times, the cause of Dr. Folkman's death was a heart attack. However, the circumstances remind me of the death of another highly respected scientist, Dr. John La Montagne - former Deputy Director of NIAID at NIH - in November 2004. Dr. La Montagne was also between flights at an airport, and died of a "pulmonary infarction edema", which suggests that the underlying cause of his death was Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Dr. La Montagne was only 61 at the time. Although I am not a medical doctor, it seems possible that Dr. Folkman's death may have resulted from DVT, which sometimes manifests itself as chest pains. His death is a tragedy in any case, but perhaps points to the need for better understanding of DVT.\n

January 17, 2008

I learned about Dr. Folkman's work in angiogenesis/anti-angiogenesis while I was a graduate student at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center 25 years ago. His work was considered very experimental then, and faculty in my department opposed my plan to study the role of directed angiogenesis in a model of tumor differentiation. I had to change the direction of my research, but was always excited to hear about Dr. Folkman's progress. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a cancer seminar, and he encouraged my research endeavors. I am deeply saddened by his untimely passing. May his memory be a blessing.
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