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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
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.
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
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
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
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.
[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.
PGY-1, Internal Medicine
Good Samaritan Hospital
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.
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.
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
His contributions were many. He was a leader and role model for Hopkins medicine, for clinical and scholarly excellence and humane care.
Director, Division of General Internal Medicine
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
Howard University Cancer Center
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
The Oncology Group, CMPMedica
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
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.,
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.
Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology
Deputy Director, UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center
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.
M. Frank & Margaret Domiter Rudy Distinguished Chair
& Director, Taussig Cancer Center;
Chair, Cancer Division, Cleveland Clinic
Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP