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In Memoriam: Dr. M. Judah Folkman

In Memoriam: Dr. M. Judah Folkman

ABSTRACT: Dr. William Li reflects on the recent passing of the ‘Father of Angiogenesis,’ whose work founded an entire branch of targeted cancer therapy

It is with great sadness that the Angiogenesis Foundation reflects on the passing of Dr. Judah Folkman, founder and pioneer of the field of angiogenesis research. His sudden and unexpected death on January 14 comes as a great shock to all who trained with and were students of this remarkable surgeon, scientist, teacher, and visionary. The Angiogenesis Foundation extends its deepest condolences to Dr. Folkman’s wife, Paula, and his family.

Dr. Folkman’s pioneering research on tumor angiogenesis began in the 1960s, and revolutionized the modern understanding of cancer, paving the way for the development of a number of life-prolonging cancer therapies in use today. He was one of the greatest scientific minds of our time. His vision inspired the creation of the Angiogenesis Foundation 14 years ago as a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the new field of angiogenesis treatments for more than 70 different diseases. Dr. Folkman’s vision, mentorship and guidance will be greatly missed by those of us fortunate to have known and worked with him.

Dr. Folkman thrice served as a faculty member for the Angiogenesis Foundation, delivering keynote addresses alongside Nobel Laureates James Watson, Louis J. Ignarro, and H. Robert Horvitz, in the Foundation’s Annual International Conference on Antiangiogenesis, held in the fall each year. Dr. Folkman referred patients and friends to the Foundation for consultation on antiangiogenic therapy. Dr. Folkman quietly provided important guidance and encouragement to our organization. He advised us behind the scenes and gave us his insights into challenges and opportunities he saw in the field; championed the Foundation’s mission to influential individuals and prospective donors; and donated books and manuscripts to our library. He publicly recognized the Foundation at major conferences before world leading scientists and industry leaders involved in angiogenesis research. In 2003, the Angiogenesis Foundation honored Dr. Folkman with a Lifetime Scientific Achievement Award, presented to him by then Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Dr. Folkman had the good fortune to witness the field he pioneered evolve, on a global scale, into a major force in modern science and medicine. He lived to see his ideas from the laboratory become translated into real, practical treatments that are today helping patients afflicted by cancer, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic wounds, and other serious diseases.

At the Angiogenesis Foundation, we will honor Dr. Folkman’s memory by continuing our commitment to advance the field that he established and helping to realize his vision of angiogenesis as a unifying concept in 21st century medicine.

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