The cancer community lost an important collaborator with the death of O. Michael Colvin, Director Emeritus of the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center and Professor Emeritus of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, NC. Dr. Colvin was a founding senior editor of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and worked closely with founding editor Daniel C. Von Hoff to launch the journal. He later served as Deputy Editor and as special advisor to the Editor-in-Chief.
A native of Indiana, Dr. Colvin received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine (St Louis, MO) and did his internship and residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD). He spent 34 years at Johns Hopkins, where he was Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, director of the Division of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics for the oncology center, and research director of the oncology center. He also served as Associate Dean for Research.
Dr. Colvin became the director of the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1995 and served until 2002. He was named William W. Shingleton Professor of Cancer Research and Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology. He gave prominence to his personal mission as an educator and mentor at both institutions he served, always seeking to advance the careers of his students in a calm and thoughtful way with just a dash of dry humor.
His many achievements included pioneering work on drugs that damage the genetic material that causes cancer cells to replicate. He also worked on developing stem cell therapies. He was one of the first investigators to use high-dose cyclophosphamide to treat solid tumors, now a common practice in bone marrow transplantation for breast and other cancers. He was a co-leader of the Duke Cancer Center's Experimental Therapeutics Research Program and published more than 150 scientific articles dealing with the pharmacology of antitumor agents and the mechanism of action and cellular resistance to alkylating agents, among other areas of study.
He gave his time and energy to many professional organizations, serving as a member of the advisory board of the NIH Center for Scientific Review, which oversees NIH grant review and funding. He also was dedicated to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), with an active membership from 1975 until his death in 2013. His contributions included service on the AACR Board of Directors from 1997 to 2000, on the Bruce F. Cain Award Committee, the Prevention Working Group, and on the Publications Committee.
Dr. Colvin was the recipient of many honors during his career, including election to Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Omega Alpha, and the Association of American Physicians. In 2003, he received the R. Wayne Rundles Award for Excellence in Cancer Research. On a personal level, he deeply appreciated the overwhelming impact cancer has on patients and families and was their strong advocate, serving on the Duke Caring House board and the advisory board of the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program, which honored Dr. Colvin and his wife, Macey, with their 2004 Light of Hope award.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Arline Macey (Lockerbie) Colvin; 4 children, who fondly remember him as a caring dad who almost never missed their diving meets, lacrosse games, or recitals; and 5 grandchildren. His life and contributions were honored on April 3, 2013, by his family, friends, and the Duke University community.
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
- Received June 14, 2013.
- Accepted June 14, 2013.
- ©2013 American Association for Cancer Research.