Dr. Judah Folkman (photo)--whose work on angiogenesis spawned a new category of oncology drugs--died on Monday at the age of 74. His groundbreaking research demonstrating tumors' need for growing numbers of blood vessels led to the development of 10 cancer drugs on the market today and spawned a wide array of follow-up investigations that continue to drive experiments into new cancer treatments. While not a cure for cancer, observers note that Folkman pointed the way to make many cancers a manageable chronic disease. The New York Times notes that deep skepticism greeted Folkman's initial work, but a 1998 study showing how the process eliminated tumors in mice stirred a frenzy of interest.
"I think he was one of the most important investigators of our time," Dr. David Nathan, president emeritus of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, told the Wall Street Journal. "Losing him is like watching a Roman candle go out."