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February 28, 2005 - Aquinas College and the Van Andel Institute are sponsoring a presentation by Dr. Judah Folkman, one of the world's foremost cancer researchers. Dr. Folkman's address "Can Human Cancer be Treated before it is Symptomatic or Anatomically Located?" will be on Wednesday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Kretschmer Recital Hall of the Aquinas Art and Music Center (parking is available in the Fulton Street lot). The lecture is free and the public is invited to attend. A reception immediately to follow.

Earlier in the day, Folkman will deliver a scientific lecture, Platelet Angiogenic Profile as an Early Biomarker for Cancer, as part of the Han-Mo Koo Memorial Lecture Series to physicians and others at the Van Andel Institute.

While a student at Harvard, Folkman developed one of the first pacemakers. During a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, he created an implantable device for timed drug-release, and donated it patent-free to the World Population Council. It is now known as Norplant.

His interest in cancer developed when at age 34, he became chief of surgery at Boston's Children's Hospital, and observed hundreds of bloody tumors in juvenile cancer patients. He started to research if there was a way to stop the growth of the tumors by blocking the process, called angiogenesis, by which new blood vessels develop to feed cancerous growths. He went on to discovered a substance that inhibited this growth, and soon found dozens more.

He pioneered the use of interferon in cancer therapy, healing hemangiomas, growths that often threaten the life of infants. His research has led to the development of progressively more potent compounds, such as angiostatin, endostatin and vasculostatin, which have halted the growth of tumors in laboratory mice. The more promising compounds are now being prepared for human testing. Many scientists predict that when a pharmaceutical treatment for human cancer is perfected, it will be built on the work of Folkman.

Grand Rapids was a part of Folkman's early life and he has a long-standing relationship with George Vande Woude, Ph.D., Director of the Van Andel Institute, and invited him to come to Grand Rapids to lecture at the suggestion and encouragement of Rabbi Albert M. Lewis, Director of the Aquinas Emeritus College. Lewis and Folkman's father edited a book together in the 1970s. Folkman's father was the Rabbi in Grand Rapids when the Jewish Federation became incorporated. Rabbi Folkman was one of the original signatures on the charter. Since the Jewish community has such a strong connection with Folkman, a breakfast has been arranged in his honor by the Maimonides Society (hosted by Rosalie Stein of the Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids) on March 9.