Folkman, Judah

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FOLKMAN, JUDAH

FOLKMAN, JUDAH (1933– ), U.S. medical scientist. Folkman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated with a B.A. from Ohio State University (1953) and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School (1957). His interest in research began while he was still an undergraduate with the development of a novel pacemaker. After training in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital (1957–65), including service with the U.S. Navy (1960–62), he joined the staff of Harvard Medical School, where his subsequent senior appointments included professor of surgery (1967), pediatric surgery (1979), and cell biology (1994), and chief surgeon at Boston Children's Hospital. Folk-man initiated research on the importance of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) to the growth and spread of cancers. This research showed that angiogenesis is stimulated by factors produced chiefly by the specialized cells (endothelial cells) lining the interior of the blood vessels of normal individuals and by cancer cells. It also promotes inflammation in many other diseases. Angiogenesis is inhibited by naturally occurring factors and by drugs such as endostatin and angiostatin designed as the result of this basic research. He has postulated that natural anti-angiogenesis factors are an important anti-cancer defense mechanism. Anti-angiogenesis drugs have proved effective in controlling experimental cancers but their relevance to clinical medicine awaits the outcome of the many clinical trials founded on this research. His achievements have been recognized by many honors, including election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (1990), the Gairdner Award (1991), the Wolf Prize (1992), and the Benjamin Franklin Award (2001). In 1999 he became a member of the International Scientific Board of the Israel Cancer Association.

[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]