Martin D. Abeloff, the chief oncologist and director
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer
Center for the past 15 years, died Sept. 14 of
leukemia. Abeloff, 65, was an international authority on
the treatment of breast cancer.
He is remembered by his colleagues and friends across
the globe for his characteristic humility,
wry sense of humor, extraordinary devotion to his patients
and students, and the collaborative spirit
he nurtured in his long tenure at Johns Hopkins, where he
spent most of his career.
"Marty was that iconic Hopkins physician, scientist,
educator, leader and good citizen rolled into
one," said Edward D. Miller, dean of the faculty and CEO of
Johns Hopkins Medicine. "He was there
for his patients, his residents and fellows, his colleagues
and at so many challenging times, the
institution he graced for so long."
"All of the Johns Hopkins Medicine family will miss
his presence and his wisdom," said Ronald R.
Peterson, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and
Health System. "He was the consummate quiet
man who worked tirelessly to achieve greatness in his
In typical Abeloff fashion, he recently credited the
Cancer Center's growth and advances
against malignant disease to the faculty and staff,
counting himself "lucky" to work among individuals
whose intellect and values made coming to work "an absolute
"He was the ultimate role model," said friend and
colleague Stephen Baylin, the Virginia and D.K.
Ludwig Professor of Oncology and Medicine, and deputy
director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer
Center. "What he didn't know, he took the time to learn.
And with a combination of qualities best
summarized as wisdom, he helped transform both the
treatment of cancer and the way that Johns
Hopkins delivers that care. These are his legacies."
During his 15-year tenure as director of the Cancer
Center, Abeloff doubled the size of its
faculty, increased research funding sixfold and saw it
consistently ranked among the nation's top
three cancer centers in U.S. News & World Report
"Marty built an impressive and unparalleled team of
cancer experts and a world-class reputation
for the Kimmel Cancer Center," Miller said.
He also was instrumental in bringing the largest
single gift to Johns Hopkins, the $150 million
donation from philanthropist and fashion entrepreneur
Sidney Kimmel, for whom the Cancer Center is
Under Abeloff's direction, the cancer complex expanded
to include nearly 1 million square feet
of treatment and research space. Inside the Harry and
Jeanette Weinberg Building, Abeloff revealed
his passion for the arts, establishing the Art of Healing
program that includes a performing arts
series and a collection of more than 100 works of
museum-quality art for the enjoyment of patients,
visitors and staff.
Abeloff received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins
in 1966. After residency and
fellowship training in Boston's Beth Israel Hospital and
Tufts–New England Medical Center, he
returned to Johns Hopkins for an oncology fellowship. He
joined the faculty in 1972, focusing on lung
and breast cancer research, and later headed the Medical
Oncology Department before directing the
entire Cancer Center.
Abeloff served as president of the American Society of
Clinical Oncology and chair of the FDA
oncology drug advisory committee. He also was chair of the
board of scientific counselors to the
Intramural Division of Clinical Science at the National
Cancer Institute and a member of the NCI
Martin David Abeloff was born in 1942 in Shenandoah,
Pa. He is survived by his wife, Diane, a
medical illustrator; daughters Elisa Abeloff and her
husband, George Landau, and Jennifer Abeloff
and her husband, Howard Wasserman; three grandchildren; and
his sister and brother-in-law, Marilyn
and Morrell Fox.
The funeral service and interment took place on
Sunday. A memorial service at Johns Hopkins is
The Abeloff family has requested that memorial
donations be sent to the Martin D. Abeloff,
M.D., Scholars Program in Cancer Prevention and Control at
the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center,
Suite 234, 100 N. Charles St., Baltimore MD 21201. Tributes
and notes of sympathy may be submitted
to firstname.lastname@example.org for posting on the Kimmel Cancer Center Web
For more about Abeloff's work and to read tributes, go