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Masonic Cancer Center mourns loss of pioneering scientist

John Ohlfest, Ph.D.

Groundbreaking cancer researcher John Ohlfest, Ph.D., died on January 21 of malignant melanoma. He was 35 years old.

Ohlfest, the first recipient of the Hedberg Family/Children’s Cancer Research Fund Endowed Chair in Brain Tumor Research, gained renown for using both gene therapy and novel immunotherapies to coax a patient’s own immune system into attacking cancer cells. His work with brain tumors in dogs also gained national prominence.

“In the field of medicine, John was a star,” says his supervisor John Wagner, M.D., scientific director of clinical research in the University’s Stem Cell Institute. “He had only one goal in mind—total cure. What John could have accomplished over a long career we will never know—but even now, he continues to inspire us to continue our quest of finding cures for previously incurable diseases.”

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