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American Association for Cancer Research Release: Obituary: Emmanuel Farber, 1918-2014

8/5/2014 8:11:52 AM

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PHILADELPHIA — Cancer research lost a pioneer on Sunday, August 3, 2014, with the passing of Dr. Emmanuel Farber, a renowned pathologist who made fundamental contributions to our understanding of chemical carcinogenesis. Dr. Farber’s studies in experimental pathology demonstrated that chemical carcinogens are capable of binding to nucleic acids, in turn generating specific DNA adducts. These 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. He served on the Surgeon General’s first Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health from 1961 to 1964. The committee was responsible for issuing the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report which has now done more to prevent tobacco-related disease than any other preventive measure. Dr. Farber was an early proponent of limiting tobacco use and educating the public about smoking risks, at a time when such a position was subject to attacks from industry and even from other scientists.

Throughout his long and prestigious career, Dr. Farber promoted the concept that to understand carcinogenesis, one must also understand the cellular, genetic, metabolic, and molecular changes that are occurring during the process. This mindset, along with Dr. Farber’s energy and enthusiasm in exploring the nature of cancer, has served as a source of inspiration and guidance for cancer researchers worldwide.

Dr. Farber was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on October 19, 1918. He obtained his medical degree from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto in 1942. After completing his residency training in pathology at the Hamilton General Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, he served in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and later obtained a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. His distinguished academic career began at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and continued with his appointment as Professor and Chairman of Pathology and Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and at the Fels Research Institute, Temple University School of Medicine, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was Professor of Pathology and Biochemistry and Director of the Institute. In 1975 Dr. Farber moved back to his native city to take the post of Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pathology and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto. At his death, he held the title of Chairman Emeritus and Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Toronto.

In addition to his academic and research contributions, Dr. Farber was a leader in the scientific community. He was a very active member of the American Association for Cancer Research, serving as Vice President (1971-1972) and President (1972-1973). He was a member of the AACR Board of Directors and served as Associate Editor of Cancer Research; he was elected as an inaugural Fellow of the AACR Academy (2013). Dr. Farber was also a member of the Pennsylvania (East) State Legislative Committee, and the Molecular Epidemiology Working Group and served with distinction on the Panel on Medical Sciences of the US-Japan Cooperative Science Program, National Advisory Cancer Council of the US Public Health Service, Lung Cancer Task Force, Committee on Food Safety and Food Safety Policy of the National Academy of Sciences, Chairman of the Pathology B Study section of the National Institutes of Health, Committee on Pathology, Division of Medical Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council, the Histochemical Society, and the American Society of Experimental Pathology. He was a member of the editorial boards of American Journal of Pathology; Laboratory Investigation; Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry; Oncology News; Teratogenesis, Carcinogenesis, and Mutagenesis; International Journal of Cancer; Chemical Biological Interactions; Liver; and Hepatology.

Dr. Farber’s many accomplishments were recognized by his colleagues throughout his career. He was the recipient of the Parke-Davis Award in Experimental Pathology, the Samuel R. Noble Foundation Award, the Rous-Whipple Award of the American Association of Pathologists, and the G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award of the American Association for Cancer Research. In 1984, Dr. Farber was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

In 1985, Dr. Farber was elected as the Honorary Member of the Society of Toxicologic Pathologists. This is the highest honor that this professional organization can bestow.

He was also Vice President and President of the American Society of Experimental Pathology and President of Histochemical Society.

The AACR and the cancer research community at large are deeply grateful for Dr. Farber’s extraordinary contributions to the conquest of cancer. His seminal laboratory research laid the groundwork for our understanding of human cancer. Dr. Farber will truly be missed by everyone whom he has touched with generosity as scientist, teacher, and humanitarian during his long life. His special spirit and characteristic enthusiasm about the potential of cancer science and medicine will be remembered always by his devoted friends and colleagues all over the world.

Dr. Farber is survived by daughter Naomi Farber, son-in-law Steven Grosby, and beloved grandson Samuel Grosby, who wish to extend sincere appreciation to those who enriched his personal and professional life and joined his tireless search for scientific truth.

Services will be held on Wednesday, August 6 at 11:30 a.m. at the Hebrew Benevolent Society in Columbia, South Carolina.

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About the American Association for Cancer Research

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 34,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 18,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit

For media inquiries, please contact Jeremy Moore at or 215-446-7109

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