In This Section      
Print This Page

Abeloff Tribute

A Tribute to Martin D. Abeloff, M.D. -- 1942 - 2007


Reflections from the Commemorative issue of Promise and Progress
Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Expressions of Sympathy

The following tributes from colleagues and friends honor the memory of Dr. Martin D. Abeloff.

It is with indescribable sadness, and with great personal dismay, that I must announce the passing this morning, September 14, 2007 of our Oncology Department and Cancer Center Director, Marty Abeloff. It is obvious that there are no real words to define how much we will all miss him.

Please know that the senior faculty and administrative leadership of the Department and Center stand ready to help everyone, in any way possible, at this most difficult of times. I know that I represent everyone when I send our most profound condolences to Marty's family and his many, many friends locally, and indeed across the world, in a multitude of arenas.

Stephen B. Baylin, M.D.
Deputy Director, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center

September 14, 2007

Dear Colleagues:

It is with profound sorrow that we inform you that today, September 14, Cancer Center Director Martin Abeloff died.

A brilliant physician and outstanding leader, Marty was the very model of excellence that Hopkins most values. His death is a great loss to the Cancer Center and the entire Johns Hopkins community.

During Marty's 15-year tenure as Cancer Center director, there has been significant growth in research programs, faculty and facilities. Under his leadership, the Cancer Center received the largest single gift to Johns Hopkins and renamed the Center after philanthropist and fashion industry giant Sidney Kimmel. Marty also oversaw the building of three new facilities that expanded the cancer complex at Johns Hopkins to include nearly 1 million square feet of space dedicated to cancer care and research.

Marty, 65, who spent his entire career at Johns Hopkins, also had been president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and chairman of the FDA Oncology Drug Advisory Committee. He was the chairperson of the Board of Scientific Counselors to the Intramural Division of Clinical Science at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and a member of the NCI Executive Committee.

He received his medical degree from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and was a resident in internal medicine at the University of Chicago and the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. He completed his subspecialty training in oncology and hematology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Tufts-New England Medical Center and Johns Hopkins.

We mourn Marty's loss as members of his extended Hopkins family and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and children. He is survived by his wife, Diane, two daughters and sons-in-law, and three grandchildren.

Edward D. Miller, M.D.
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Ronald R. Peterson
The Johns Hopkins Hospital

All of us at the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute were saddened today to hear of the passing of Dr. Martin Abeloff. In his 15 years as director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Abeloff headed an outstanding institution, even as he continued to lead seminal research in breast cancer therapy and prevention. His contributions to the state of the science, in the use of mammography and in techniques to screen for breast cancer risk factors, transformed prevention efforts. Marty, as he was known to his many friends, volunteered seemingly countless hours to serve on boards and committees that advise the NCI on its research directions. As an academic colleague for many years, Marty was a supporter, a wise counselor, and always a consummate professional and gentleman. His death is just one more reason we rededicate ourselves daily to the same goals that Marty shared: trying to solve the mysteries of cancer so that future generations won't have to suffer unnecessarily. Our hearts go out to his wife and best friend, Diane, and all of Marty's family.

Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director, National Institutes of Health
John E. Niederhuber, M.D., Director, National Cancer Institute

It provokes great sadness to learn of Marty's passing. I got to know him many years ago and had the pleasure of working closely with him on several projects. Both were complicated and difficult projects , and what impressed me above all else was his concern for other people , concern for the institution , and his concern for patients, and his humility. He always has impressed me as representing not only the very best of what Hopkins has to offer, but the best humanity has to offer . I will miss him a great deal.

Frederick G. Savage
Deputy General Counsel
Johns Hopkins University

With much sadness, I read of the notice of our loss of Mary Abeloff. As a
faculty member in the mid-80's to early 90's, Marty was in charge of the
Breast Cancer program when I joined the Hopkins staff, before he moved up
to Director of the Oncology Center. During my time at Hopkins, I remember
Marty as a skilled clinician, and very caring physician who was deeply
concerned not only about life and death issues surrounding the disease of
cancer, but the quality of life of the patients he cared for. He was in
addition very supportive of me during my early years at Hopkins.

I extend my deepest sympathy to Marty's family, friends, and the entire
Hopkins Community, particularly those who had the privilege to work with
and get to know Marty on a more familiar basis. I think of the "veterans"
of the Hopkins Cancer Community, including many who remain from those early
days working with breast cancer patients-John Fetting, Nancy Davidson,
Debbie Armstrong, and so many more who spent decades with Marty-David
Ettinger, Don Coffey, Ross Donehower........and send you all my best

This is such a loss to Hopkins and the entire cancer community.

My very best to all. Take care.

Michael Stefanek, PhD
Vice President, Behavioral Research
Director, Behavioral Research Center
American Cancer Society


"God Bless" His family will be in my prayers.

Rhonda Weaver, staff, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center


I am shocked and saddened to hear of Dr. Abeloff's passing. I worked under his direction for eight years, and through the transition of moving, from the basement of the main hospital to the Weinberg Building. Throughout, Dr. Abeloff's gentle guidance and wisdom helped patients and staff adjust to the changes of his ever growing department. He was always someone that any, and all, could turn to for advice, and a leader who would never hesitate to compliment a job well done. He would always lend a minute to chat, even with his very demanding schedule. Dr. Abeloff, a brilliant man, a gentle man, a kind heart to patients, families, and staff, will surely be missed by all.

Sincerely, Debby Sullivan


I am writing to express my sincere condolences to the Abeloff family and the
Hopkins medical community. Marty was a good friend to me and was, in many
ways, a role model in my own career. I have met few people as kind, genuine
and thoughtful as Marty. He was an outstanding leader and I will miss him

Richard L. Schilsky, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
University of Chicago
Chairman, Cancer and Leukemia Group B

Dear Drs. Miller and Peterson:
It is with deep sorrow that we learned of the death of Dr. Martin Abeloff. On behalf of the Whiting School of Engineering, I extend my sincere condolences to Dr. Abeloff's family. He was an outstanding scholar, dedicated physician, and respected colleague. Faculty in the Whiting School who had occasion to collaborate with Dr. Abeloff and his Center held him in the highest esteem. His death is indeed a great loss to the entire Hopkins community.
Nicholas P. Jones
Dean, Whiting School of Engineering

Marty Abeloff gave me and my colleagues sage and good-humored advice
over the past eight years as chair of the MSKCC Board of Scientific
Counsellors. He knew how to criticize without insult, and how to
praise without flattery. And he was wonderfully generous with his

With his death today, the world has lost one of its most outstanding
physician-scientists, and his family and friends have lost a humane,
politically engaged, and sensitive human being.

My colleagues join me in extending our deep sympathies to the entire
Johns Hopkins community and to Marty's family.

Harold Varmus
President, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

I worked with Marty almost 2 years ago on the last edition of his
Clinical Oncology book.

It was an honor and immense pleasure to work with him. Marty was a
passionate, intense, and committed professional whose genuine love of
his work, his family, and his colleagues shone through his every word
and action.

My thoughts and prayers are with his beloved family, and with all those
whose lives were touched by this extraordinary and brilliant man.

Donna L. Morrissey
Senior Developmental Editor


Sadness does not begin to capture the emotion I felt when learning about
the passing of Martin Abeloff. Marty was a mentor, a colleague, a
friend, and a role model. He taught by example how to live an honorable
life and how to make a difference in the world. Marty was a leader in
the truest sense of the word - many of us will feel his loss when faced
with difficult decisions because we will realize that we can no longer
ask for his opinion. One bit of solace is that one could usually predict
how Marty would advise in such situations - his moral compass always led
him to recommend "doing the right thing". He will be sorely missed, but
his impact will live on. Johns Hopkins, the entire biomedical community,
and cancer patients everywhere are fortunate to have had Marty on their
side for the past 40+ years.

Michael B. Kastan, M.D., Ph.D.
Cancer Center Director
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

I wish to accompany the feelings of his family in these sad moments

Felip Vilardell Villellas MD PhD

...I will always remember his courteous tone even when something much stronger would be appropriate. When Marty spoke, people always listened because you know he was going to say something important!

Clearly Marty's professional life was the epitome of the academic physician-scientist-educator-leader which means that there are countless patients, physicians, scientists and friends who, while mourning his loss, will recall how essential Marty has been to their lives.

We particularly want to convey to Diane and the rest of Marty's family, colleagues and students our sincere condolences at this difficult time.

Marty, we are glad we knew you!


Dave and Dolly Blake

It came as a real shock to hear about the passing of Marty Abeloff. I
spent half a day with him in Washington DC earlier this year at a
leadership summit and he looked well with no sign of any illness. Dr.
Abeloff was a giant of American medicine, a most accomplished
clinician and investigator in the field of oncology, widely respected
and a role model for many. The brief time I spent learning from him
during my year of clinical oncology training in 1990 both on the
wards and the outpatient clinics had great impact on me. Later on in
my career he was a beacon of light with good advice and support
whenever asked. His textbook of Clinical Oncology sits on my shelf
and I can only say I am fortunate to have known a person of his
stature who was decent and kind. I am sad at the loss of such a
wonderful human being and send his family and colleagues at Hopkins
heartfelt condolences.

Wafik S. El-Deiry, M.D. Ph.D.
Professor of Medicine, Genetics, and Pharmacology
Co-Program Leader, Radiation Biology Program
Abramson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Associate Director for Physician-Scientist Training
Hematology-Oncology Division
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Editor-in-Chief, Cancer Biology and Therapy

I was privileged to work as Dr. Abeloff's Executive Assistant during the early 1990's. He was the kindest and best of men. My heartfelt sympathy to Diane and family. It was my honor to know and work with him.

- Elizabeth Nash (nee Rowe)

I am a cancer survivor... my best friend is being treated for a very difficult cancer at Hopkins and NIH... Throughout all of this, Dr. Abeloff has been an important constant --- for clinical treatment that is unrivalled in its excellence and its compassion; for a deep commitment to excellence in research; and to the building of a great cancer center devoted to the best clinical treatment and research imaginable. My last contact with Dr. Abeloff, barely a year ago, involved Dr.Abeloff, in the midst of his very hectic schedule, helping to facilitate a team of doctors at Hopkins and Sloan Kettering address the needs of another friend with a very rare cancer. It is indeed ironic that Dr. Abeloff's career has been cut short by a form of cancer and that this should occur during the holiest part of the Jewish calendar. But this is the lot of a truly righteous man.

-Henry Kahn

Dear all,

[Dr. Abeloff's] contribution to the field of oncology is unprecedented. The passing of Dr. Abeloff is a great loss to the medical fraternity as well as the entire cancer community. I extend my heartfelt condolence to his family, friends and the entire biomedical community.

Thank you,

Andaleeb Ahmed
PGY-1, Internal Medicine
Good Samaritan Hospital
Baltimore, MD


Dear friends,

Marty's passing creates a void,professionally and emotionally.

His total dedication to his family ,profession, community and academic oncology will be remembered as a totally exemplary one.

He is missed.

Edward Baral MD,PH.D
Karolinska University Hospital

On a more somber note, I would like to express my deepest condolences to those who were touched by the passing of your friend, Dr. Abeloff. I had the privilege to talk with him on a handful of occasions and was struck by his kind nature. My intimidation was quickly replace with profound respect and admiration. I suspect he had that way with most people. He will always be a good and honorable man.

Craig Hooker
Research Associate
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center

Our deepest sympathy to Marty's friends and family.

He touched all of us in a special way and he gave so much of himself to everyone around him.

I still fondly remember the first day I met him , his words of guidance and wisdom and his warm welcome.

Dalal Haldeman
Vice President, Marketing and Communications

When I was at Hopkins, Marty included me on a panel of advisors from various fields on how to organize the cancer research program. I remember one winter I got into a car accident skidding on a bridge across the interstate; the incident was televised, and Marty was humorously sympathetic to my plight. He said I really looked shell shocked during the TV interview -- I was. Later, I would contact Marty when family or friends in the Baltimore area need advice or referrals on oncological issues; he always found the time to respond personally and promptly. He really was a mench, and he built the Cancer Center from scratch. I remember coming to him with some ideas on cancer prediction of response. He referred me to some young guy that he was very proud of who was working at a converted grocery market across the street -- Bert Vogelstein. I think he eventually expanded the Cancer Center to the point that Bert and his "supermarketers" (including Ambinder) were able to find lab space at Hopkins.

--Jerry Glickson

My sympathy to Marty's family and colleagues.

His contributions were many. He was a leader and role model for Hopkins medicine, for clinical and scholarly excellence and humane care.
David E. Kern, MD, MPH
Director, Division of General Internal Medicine
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

Marty Abeloff was a major force in advancing the cancer field not only as a brilliant clinical scientist, but also as an innovative thought leader, mentor and head of one of the world's most impressive comprehensive cancer centers. His incredible legacy of achievements in cancer research will continue to save countless lives from cancer. His is a deeply felt loss for the entire cancer community who valued his intellect, wisdom and self-effacing demeanor. The AACR extends its heartfelt condolences to the Abeloff family.
Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D.
CEO, American Society for Cancer Research

Dr. Abeloff was a true friend of the Welch Library, leading the most recent search for a library director and otherwise supporting the work of the library in a whole variety of ways. Personally, I found him to be a vast font of institutional information, and always willing to share his knowledge and ideas with me. In my last conversation with him, not long before he left Hopkins, he was, as always, responsive and insightful.
Along with so many others, the Welch library will very much miss Dr. Abeloff.
Nancy Roderer
Director, Welch Medical Library

My condolences and heartfelt sympathy to Dr. Abeloff's family and colleagues.
I was privileged to work with Dr. Abeloff on the Howard-Hopkins Partnership. I will always remember his dedication and commitment toward the success of the partnership. His passing creates a void that will be difficult to fill.
May memories of him be of comfort to you during this difficult time.
Joyce Dempsey
Howard University Cancer Center
Washington, DC

The editorial and publishing staff of ONCOLOGY and Oncology News International offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to Marty's family, and to his many colleagues and friends at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, and in the oncology community.

To Marty, we offer you our deepest gratitude, and our utmost and eternal respect.

Marty served as co-Editor-in-Chief of ONCOLOGY since 1999 and founding Editor-in-Chief of Oncology News International since 1992. Through these years Marty was integral to building and maintaining the quality and integrity of these publications, and he was an active and enthusiastic participant in editorial discussions and planning. During his illness, Marty continued to advise, to contribute, and to read ONCOLOGY and Oncology News International, to participate in conference calls, and despite ongoing therapy, to be present at our editorial advisory board meeting this past June.

The magnitude of his untimely death is immeasurable, and the sense of loss for so many is profound. To have known Marty, and to have been touched by his wisdom, guidance, and commitment is a privilege. He will be missed, and we are deeply saddened.

Cara H. Glynn
Editorial Director
The Oncology Group, CMPMedica

Marty Abeloff was a great man. Although I never worked directly with him, he always had a kind and encouraging word for me as I passed him by in my career, and his support and mentoring of my good friends at Hopkins shown through in their affection for him.

He will be missed. My deepest sympathy to his family and his colleagues at Hopkins.

Daniel F. Hayes, M.D.
Clinical Director, Breast Oncology Program
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

I add my condolences to the family and colleagues, with the passing
of a special friend, physician and leader, Marty Abeloff. He was a
rare combination of qualities, and he will be sorely missed by all
who had the privilege of knowing him.

Saul A. Rosenberg, M.D.,
Stanford University

Dear Abeloff Family,
It is with profound sadness that I learned of Marty's death today. I did not know him well personally, but I did feel privileged to be able to work with him in several capacities at AACR while I was President. He was a gracious, humble and very wise person.? It was not uncommon when we deliberated complex issues to comment "Let's ask Marty, he always has something important to say."
I am sorry that all of our efforts as cancer researchers and physicians were not enough, at this time, to help him to survive. But, through his efforts and guidance over the years, his legacy is left in the many people who do survive due to his care, and the effort he expended to build one of the most important cancer research and treatment institutions in the world.
I send my deepest and most sincere condolences to you at this time of sorrow in the High Holy Days. May your grief be only long enough to imprint the many positive things Marty did for so many people whose lives he touched. And, may the time be short when your sorrow gives rise to comfort and joy in recollections of happy and meaningful times you were able to share together as family.
Geoffrey M. Wahl, Ph.D.
Professor, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Immediate Past President, American Association for Cancer Research

Marty was a friend for over 25 years. Oncology has lost a true giant. He will be greatly missed.

Eli Glatstein
Radiation Oncology
University of Pennsylvania

A message for the family, friends and colleagues of Marty Abeloff:
Marty Abeloff was one of the strongest and most loved oncology leaders of our time. He shaped our thinking on research, policy and care in so many ways. I don't think I ever made a decision on an important issue without first running it by Marty. He always had time for me and, I suspect, for everyone who yearned to benefit from his wisdom. His legacy will last for a long, long time.
I will miss him very much. And I'm grateful for the many gifts of advice and examples he gave. My prayers and my thoughts are with Diane and their family.
Margaret Tempero, M.D.
Doris and Donald Fisher Distinguished Professor of Clinical Cancer Research
Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology
Deputy Director, UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center

I am shocked to learn the passing of Dr. Martin Abeloff. I have been very fortunate to do my postdoctoral training in Johns Hopkin Oncology Center in 2000-2005 and enjoyed the world-class research environment Dr. Abeloff had created for the Center and training fellows. His passing is a tremendous loss for Hopkins and for the entire cancer research community. My deepest condolence to his family and friends.
WenYong Chen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Beckman Research Institute/City of Hope

Diane, family and friends at Hopkins,

The cancer research community and our nation, has lost a great medical leader, a fine physician, and a humanitarian and friend. Some years ago, we at the Cleveland Clinic patterned our Cancer Center on the model established by Marty and his team, incorporating Hematology and Oncology into the administrative structure of the Cancer Center, and Marty was tremendously helpful in sharing insights into the way he achieved that in a complex academic structure.

His leadership in breast cancer research, the standards that he has set over the years, and his ability to integrate outstanding science and scientists with a top notch clinical cancer program will be just a few of the lasting gifts that he has left with us. Marty Abeloff will be sorely missed, and we share our sympathy and best wishes with all of you, and we very much feel your sense of loss.

Derek Raghavan MD PhD FACP FRACP
M. Frank & Margaret Domiter Rudy Distinguished Chair
& Director, Taussig Cancer Center;
Chair, Cancer Division, Cleveland Clinic
I had the distinct pleasure a few years ago, of working with Dr. Marty Abeloff on the planning and design of a new cancer research facility at Johns Hopkins. This project became the Bunting-Blaustein Cancer Research Building. Through many years of work on Academic Research Facilities, I have never met a more knowledgeable, generous, or helpful scientific leader. A famous architect once said, Show me a good building, and I'll show you a great client. Dr. Marty Abeloff was the proof of this axiom.
Joseph Collins, AIA, NCARB/partner
Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP