News & Publications

Lloyd J. Old, Father of Modern Tumor Immunology, Dies at 78

December 05, 2011 | Jill O'Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D.

This past week has been one of loss and reflection at the Cancer Research Institute, as we began to cope with the news of the death of our founding scientific and medical director, Lloyd J. Old, M.D., a beloved leader, mentor, and friend who passed away a week ago today at age 78. That it was cancer that ultimately claimed his life underscores the urgency of the work Lloyd dedicated himself to his entire, illustrious career.

The Cancer Research Institute was a home to Lloyd--an organization that was central to his vision for establishing immunotherapy as a new, safer, and more effective way to treat cancer.

Under his leadership from 1971 to 2011, CRI invested more than $200 million in research grants to immunologists and tumor immunologists around the world, with the goal of learning how to understand the immune response to cancer and one day develop treatments to boost that response and help cancer patients conquer their disease.

Thanks to Lloyd's vision and dedication to this field, that day has dawned, and cancer patients now have access to a growing number of treatment options based on the immune system.

Lloyd made sure to leave CRI in good scientific hands before his passing, carefully selecting his successors, with the approval of our Board of Trustees. In this time of transition, we look forward to carrying Lloyd's vision forward in the decade ahead. In the meantime, we grieve the loss of an amazing man who filled our days with inspiration, laughter, and wisdom.

We will be dedicating our upcoming annual report to Lloyd, and plan to hold a memorial service in the coming months in conjunction with the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (Ludwig) and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), two other institutions that were dear to Lloyd throughout his career. The Scientist recently published this very nice write-up on Lloyd, and the New York Times also published its obituary of this influential man who has been instrumental to bringing a new class of cancer treatments to patients. Also here is our obituary we placed in the New York Times last week, and here's another obituary placed by MSKCC. Ludwig also published this beautiful tribute to Dr. Lloyd Old.

Please take a moment to get to know more about him. We all owe him a great deal of gratitude for all he's done.

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