Genes & Cancer

John Mendelsohn: A visionary scientist, oncologist and leader

Rakesh Kumar1,2,3, Ferid Murad4,5, Oliver Bogler6, Bert W. O’Malley7 and Gabriel N. Hortobagyi8

1 Cancer Biology Program, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Trivandrum, Kerala, INDIA

2 Department of Human & Molecular Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, USA

3 Department of Medicine, Hematology-Oncology, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, USA

4 Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA

5 Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research (Stanford Affiliated Hospital), Palo Alto, CA, USA

6 ECHO Institute, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA

7 Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA

8 Breast Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer, Houston, Texas, USA


Rakesh Kumar, email:

Keywords: growth factor receptors; cetuximab; trastuzumab; targeted therapy; cancer centers

Received: July 13, 2019 Accepted: July 19, 2019 Published: July 31, 2019


Dr. John Mendelsohn is credited for the concept of targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), providing the first evidence of anticancer activity of antagonist anti-EGFR mAb, and developing the Erbitux (Cetuximab) drug for cancer patients. During his professional journey, Dr. Mendelsohn also helped to build and elevate the status of three cancer cancers, all while touching the lives of cancer patients around the globe. He was a towering figure, and his passing in January 2019 casts a very long shadow over the entire field of cancer research and treatment.  Although no one person can ever adequately fill John Mendelsohn’s very large shoes, we can all learn by his remarkable example. Here we discuss Dr. Mendelsohn’s professional life to spotlight his influence on oncology and also share personal reflections from us and several colleagues: Tony Hunter, Robert A. Weinberg, Robert C. Bast, Raymond Sawaya, David M. Gershenson, Christopher J Logothetis, Stanley R. Hamilton, Mien-Chie Hung, and George M. Stancel. See related article Kumar et al. Can Res 2019; 79:4315-4323.

PII: 195