M. Judah Folkman Collection, 1950-2006. WAM 21055; 21317-21323

Dublin Core


M. Judah Folkman Collection, 1950-2006. WAM 21055; 21317-21323


Folkman, M. Judah
Surgical Instruments
Microscope slides


M. Judah Folkman was born on 24 February 1933 in Cleveland, Ohio to Jerome Folkman and Bessie Schomer Folkman. He received his B.A. from Ohio State University in 1953 and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1957. While a medical student, Folkman worked in the laboratory of Robert Gross, Chief of Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital where he invented the first implantable heart pacemaker with Fred Vanderschmidt. In 1957 Folkman began his internship and residency in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, leaving in 1960 to serve as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy at the Naval Medical Research Institute, Bethesda, Maryland. During his service in the Navy, Folkman invented with David Long a system for the sustained release of drugs using silicone rubber implantable polymers. Folkman and Long’s patent was used to develop Norplant, a levonorgestrel intrauterine contraceptive. In 1962 he returned to Massachusetts General Hospital to finish his residency where he served as Chief Resident from 1964 to 1965. Between 1965 and 1967, Folkman was appointed Instructor in Surgery and later Associate in Surgery at Harvard Medical School, as well as Assistant Surgeon and Associate Director of Sears Surgical Laboratory at Boston City Hospital. He was then recruited by Boston Children’s Hospital to become Surgeon-in-Chief and Chairman of the Department of Surgery (1967-1981). Prior to starting these positions, Folkman spent several months in 1969 training in pediatric surgery under C. Everett Koop at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition to his new positions, Folkman was named the Julia Dyckman Andrus Professor of Pediatric Surgery at Harvard Medical School in 1968. Folkman’s subsequent appointments at Boston Children’s Hospital include: Senior Associate in Surgery (1981); Director, Surgical Research Laboratory (1981-2003); and Director, Vascular Biology Program (2003-2008). His subsequent appointments at Harvard Medical School include: Professor of Pediatric Surgery, Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology (1979); Professor of Anatomy and Cellular Biology (1980-1994); and Professor of Cell Biology (1994-2008). Folkman’s research focused on angiogenesis, angiogenesis inhibitors, and antiangiogenesis therapy for the treatment of cancer, a method by which certain factors can be used to shut down abnormal blood vessel growth. He first began studying angiogenesis while at the Naval Medical Research Institute and he continued this research at Boston City Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital. Folkman’s laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital identified TAF, or tumor angiogenesis factor, a substance tumors secreted in order to obtain new blood vessels. At the same time, researcher Napoleone Ferrara discovered the same growth factor and called it VEGF, or vascular endothelial growth factor. The discovery of TAF/VEGF led to numerous new medical treatments for a variety of illnesses. Folkman’s laboratory developed angiostatin and endostatin, two antiangiogenic factors that were used in cancer clinical trials. Folkman’s antiangiogenesis research also laid the groundwork for new treatments for macular degeneration and for colorectal, brain, and breast cancer. During the course of his career, Folkman authored 470 articles and over 100 book chapters. He was President of the American Pediatric Surgical Association (2005-2006), a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Cancer Advisory Board, as well as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American College of Surgeons. Folkman lectured extensively nationally and internationally, and received numerous honorary degrees and awards, including: the Gairdner Foundation International Award (1991); Wolf Foundation Prize in Medicine (1992); American Cancer Society Medal of Honor for Basic Science (1993); Dr. Josef Steiner Cancer Research Award (1994); the American Academy of Pediatrics Ladd Medal (1995); and the Society for Endocrinology Dale Medal (2000). Folkman died in 2008 of a heart attack and was survived by his wife and two daughters, Laura and Marjorie.

The M. Judah Folkman collection contains instruments and specimens used by Folkman during his career. This includes surgical instruments, pharmaceuticals, anatomical models, and tissue slides. All of the material in this collection was separated from the Folkman, M. Judah. Papers, 1907-2012 (inclusive), 1950-2006 (bulk) in the Center of the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.


The items in this collection were removed from the Folkman, M. Judah. Papers, 1907-2012 (inclusive), 1950-2006 (bulk) and transfered to the Warren Anatomical Museum in 2014.

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