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ASCO Remembers Dr. Georges Mathé and Dr. Ernest Rosenbaum

Mar 18, 2011

March 2011: The Society mourns the loss of longtime members Georges Mathé, MD, who died October 15, 2010, at age 88, and Ernest H. Rosenbaum, MD, FACP, who died September 7, 2010, at age 81.

Georges Mathé, MD—“The first real inventive medical oncologist in France”


The contributions of Georges Mathé, MD, to the field of oncology are many. He became interested in immunology during a 1948 medical internship in Paris while working with immunologists Bernard Halpern, MD, and future Nobel Prize winner Baruj Benacerraf, MD. From there, he focused his research on leukemias and decided to travel to the United States to study its therapy at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center with future pioneers in the field Joseph H. Burchenal, MD, and David A. Karnofsky, MD.

In 1963, Dr. Mathé, who first described the graft-versus-host reaction (GvH), performed the first allogeneic bone marrow transplant in the world. Later, in 2002, he received the Medawar prize, awarded by the Transplantation Society, for this work.

“He was, at the time, the first real inventive medical oncologist in France,” said Jean-Pierre Armand, MD, MSc. Dr. Armand is General Director of the Institut Claudius Regaud in Toulouse, France, and was a colleague and friend of Dr. Mathé. The two previously worked together at Institut Gustave-Roussy (IGR) in Villejuif, France. “He trained everyone, including myself. He was my mentor,” Dr. Armand added.

An ASCO member since 1975, Dr. Mathé was known in the field as being “part of the very small circle of doctors who invented this science at an international level,” wrote Dr. Armand in a tribute article to Dr. Mathé, published in a local French journal.

Dr. Mathé was instrumental in creating the Institute of Oncology and Immunogenetics (ICIG), a cancer research center in Paul Brousse Hospital, Villejuif, France, which combined French research unit INSERM 50 (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale) and CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) unit laboratory 189.

He was a founding member and first president of both the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and the Society of Medical Oncology (SMIC), which later became known as the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). He also participated in the creation of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and was a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and the New York Academy of Sciences.

Ernest H. Rosenbaum, MD—A leader in and proponent of patient support


As a practicing medical oncologist and hematologist for 50 years, mostly in association with Mount Zion Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Dr. Rosenbaum was a true pioneer in the field. He retired in 2006 from his positions as Clinical Professor of Medicine Emeritus at UCSF and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Dr. Rosenbaum established himself as a leader in and proponent of providing guidance and support for patients with cancer and their loved ones. He served as author for over 100 articles and presentations, as well as for over 25 books, including: Everyone’s Guide to Cancer Therapy, 5th edition, which he co-authored with Andrew Ko, MD, and Malin Dollinger MD; Everyone’s Guide to Cancer Supportive Care, which he co-authored with his wife Isadora Rosenbaum, MA; and Everyone's Guide to Cancer Survivorship, which he co-authored with David Spiegel, MD, and Patricia Fobair, LCSW, MPH. All three noted publications were published by Andrew McMeel Publishing.

As a frequent presenter at ASCO meetings and Society member since 1965, Dr. Rosenbaum took pride in his involvement with the Society, explained Steve Davis-Rosenbaum, Dr. Rosenbaum’s son. “My father was proud of his association with ASCO and always looked forward to participating at its conferences,” he said.

Dr. Rosenbaum’s other professional achievements, according to his obituary in the SF Chronicle, include forming the Medical Oncology Service while at Mount Zion Hospital, where he assisted in the development of the first genetic counseling service and Art for Recovery program. He also helped develop the first hospice in San Francisco with the Regional Cancer Foundation, where he was Medical Director in 1968, and the Cancer Supportive Program at Stanford in 1998. He also participated in many research projects in basic science, immunology, melanoma and breast cancer, as well as supportive care, home care, and rehabilitation programs for patients with cancer.

Dr. Rosenbaum leaves behind four children and six grandchildren, and is survived by two brothers and one sister.

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