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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 874-2116

Foremost cancer researcher to speak at URI
Judah Folkman to deliver annual Cruickshank lecture, March 27

Dr. Judah Folkman
Image: Courtesy of Harvard Medical School

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 4, 2003 -- Judah Folkman, the man Time magazine dubbed "the one hope to solving the cancer problem," will speak twice about his work during a visit to the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston campus on March 27. A surgeon-turned researcher, Folkman has spent more than 30 years with colleagues at Children’s Hospital in Boston searching for ways to curb cancer by cutting off blood flow to tumors. Ninety percent of all cancers are solid tumors. Both talks are free and open to the public.

Folkman, professor of cell biology at the Harvard Medical School, will deliver the annual Alex Cruickshank lecture in URI’s Barry Marks Auditorium, Room 271, of the Chafee Social Science Center at 7 p.m. His talk, "Angiogenesis-Dependent Diseases" will be of particular interest to researchers, scientists, doctors, medical researchers, pharmacists, members from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, as well as anyone interested in the future of cancer treatments.

New blood vessel development is critical to the growth of tumors, which need to be supplied by blood vessels that bring in oxygen and nutrients and remove metabolic wastes.

By using a chemical agent to circle the tumor and suffocate the blood supply, Folkman has created an innovative strategy that has been heralded around the world and profiled on the public television show Nova.

Earlier in the day, Folkman will talk about "Angiogenesis Research from Laboratory to Clinic--Key Role of Gordon Research Conferences." The talk will be held in the Cherry Auditorium in URI’s Kirk building at 2 p.m.

The Gordon Conferences bring together a group of scientists working at the frontier of research of a particular area and permit them to discuss in depth all aspects of the most recent advances in the field and to stimulate new directions for research.

In 1957, Folkman graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School. He completed his surgical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, serving as chief resident in surgery from 1964 to 1965.

As a student, Folkman co-authored papers describing a new method of hepatectomy for liver cancer and developed the first atrio-ventricular implantable pacemaker for which he received the Boylston Medical Prize, Soma Weiss Award and Borden Undergraduate Award in Medicine.

While serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1960 through 1962, Folkman and a colleague at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., first reported the use of silicone rubber implantable polymers for the sustained release of drugs. Their findings became the basis for development of Norplant, the contraceptive used internationally, and initiated the field of controlled release technology. As this time, Folkman also began growing tumors in isolated perfused organs, which led to the idea that tumors are angiogenesis-dependent.

Folkman’s discoveries of the mechanism of angiogenesis opened a field of investigation that has led to clinical trials of angiogenesis inhibitors in the U.S. and Europe. Largely because of Folkman’s research, the possibility of anti-angiogenic therapy is now on a firm scientific foundation, not only in the treatment of cancer, but of many-non-neoplastic diseases as well.

Folkman holds honorary degrees from 11 universities and is the recipient of numerous national and international awards. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

In addition to his distinguished accomplishments in research, Folkman has served as a surgeon and teacher. He began his career as an instructor in surgery for Harvard’s Surgical Service at Boston City Hospital, Boston, was promoted to professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, and became the Julia Dyckman Andrus Professor of Pediatric Surgery in 1968. From 1967 he served as surgeon-in-chief at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center for 14 years.

URI’s annual Cruickshank lecture, endowed by the trustees of the Gordon Research Conferences, is named after Alexander M. Cruickshank, who until his retirement in 1993, served as the conferences’ director for 47 years. Cruickshank is also a retired professor and chair of URI’s Chemistry Department.

*Image courtesy of Harvard University.

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