Ophthalmology community mourns loss of Judah Folkman, MD

January 16, 2008

The ophthalmology community mourns the loss of Judah Folkman, MD, innovator and researcher, who died Monday in Denver.

Denver-The ophthalmology community mourns the loss of Judah Folkman, MD, innovator and researcher, who died Monday in Denver. Dr. Folkman, a professor at Harvard and director of the vascular biology program at Children's Hospital, Boston, sparked major advances in the treatment of eye diseases and other illnesses that involve excessive or abnormal angiogenesis, or blood vessel development.

"Dr. Folkman's death is a loss to ophthalmology and to all of medicine," said H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, executive vice president for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). "Because of his groundbreaking work, we have seen remarkable advances in helping patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) save their vision and even regain some of their eyesight."

Dr. Folkman was the keynote speaker this past fall at the annual meeting of the AAO in New Orleans. He expressed that ophthalmology was present at the beginning of his research into angiogenesis.

Along with his research group, Dr. Folkman identified the first angiogenesis inhibitors in 1985, after enduring fellow scientists' scorn for their approach for 20 years. Today, at least 40 compounds that affect angiogenesis are being tested in humans to combat a range of cancers, heart disease, and eye diseases including AMD, retinopathy of prematurity, and diabetes-related disorders.