Cancer Research Pioneer Emmanuel Farber Dies at 95

Roxanne Nelson

August 12, 2014

"The cancer research community has lost a true leader" with the passing last week of Emmanuel Farber, MD, PhD, just 2 months short of his 96th birthday.

This sentiment comes from a statement from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), which notes that "his extraordinary laboratory research contributions...laid the groundwork for our understanding of human cancer."

Dr. Farber had been president of the AACR from 1972 to 1973, and was elected as an inaugural fellow of the AACR Academy.

He was a pioneering researcher and renowned pathologist who made fundamental contributions to the understanding of chemical carcinogenesis, the AACR statement notes.

His research in experimental pathology demonstrated that chemical carcinogens are capable of binding to nucleic acids, which in turn generate specific DNA adducts. The early studies led to the observation that chemical carcinogenesis is a sequential process. He later proved this theory by showing that cancer could be induced through a series of step-by-step chemical treatments in the liver.

Throughout his long career, Dr. Farber emphasized that to understand carcinogenesis, it is necessary to understand the underlying cellular, genetic, metabolic, and molecular mechanisms that occur during the process. This concept has influenced cancer research and remains a pivotal component in the current understanding of cancer biology.

Public Policy and Awards

In addition to cancer research, Dr. Farber contributed to public policy, particularly in the area of smoking. He was an early proponent of limiting tobacco use and educating the public about the health risks associated with smoking, and he served on the US Surgeon General's first Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health from 1961 to 1964. This was the committee responsible for issuing the pivotal 1964 Surgeon General's Report, which brought the relation between tobacco use and cancer into the public eye.

His scientific accomplishments have been widely recognized, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Parke-Davis Award in Experimental Pathology, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Award, the Rous-Whipple Award of the American Association of Pathologists, and the AACR G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award.


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