In Memor​​iam: Janet A. Houghton, PhD

Robert L. Comis, MD

(5/21/1952 - 10/5/2017)
Member since 1979

Janet A. Houghton, PhD, AACR member since 1979, died Oct. 5, 2017, at the age of 65. She was distinguished fellow and the Emil Hess endowed chair of cancer biology in the Drug Discovery Division at the Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, Alabama.

Houghton was known for her work that primarily focused on colorectal cancer. She was among the investigators who furthered the idea that pairing 5-fluorouracil with a derivative of folic acid, leucovorin, would trigger enhanced DNA damage in cancer cells. This combination became the standard treatment for colorectal cancer in the 1980s. Houghton’s own treatment regimen for the stage IV appendiceal cancer with which she was diagnosed in 2016 included these two anticancer drugs.

Born May 21, 1952, Houghton grew up in South Witham, Lincolnshire, U.K. After she received her doctorate from the University of London in 1977, Houghton joined St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she worked for 29 years. Prior to joining the Southern Research Institute in 2015, Houghton spent nine years as the chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at the Lerner Research Institute and the Betsy B. DeWindt endowed chair for cancer research at the Cleveland Clinic.

Houghton was an active member of the AACR for 38 years. She served as a senior editor (2002-2015) and assistant editor (1997-2002) of Cancer Research, and an editorial board member of Clinical Cancer Research (1995-2005).

She served as chair of the Cornelius P. Rhoads Memorial Award Committee (1999-2000) and cochair of the Mechanisms of Drug Action Committee (1998-1999), as well as a member of the following committees: Women in Cancer Research (2013), AACR Joseph H. Burchenal Memorial Award (2014-2015), AACR Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award (2014-2015), Clinical Research and Experimental Therapeutics Awards (2013-2015), Cancer Development Award (2002-2003), and the Research Grant Review Committee (2001-2002).

Houghton also served on several National Institutes of Health study sections, and was a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her work was published in more than 145 peer-reviewed scientific publications and 10 book chapters.