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AACR Mourns the Loss of Charles A. Coltman Jr., Cofounder of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

Charles A. Coltman Jr., MD, a cofounder of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) and a longtime member of the AACR, died Nov. 28, 2018, at age 88.

Coltman was born on Nov. 1, 1930. He earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1956, then entered the U.S. Air Force. He later completed his medical training in internal medicine and hematology/oncology at The Ohio State University, then became chief of Hematology and Oncology at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in San Antonio. His early work led to improvements in treatment regimens for multiple forms of leukemia and lymphoma.

Coltman retired from the Air Force in 1977 and began a long career at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, beginning as medical director of the Cancer Therapy & Research Center in 1977. In 1978, Coltman and William G. McGuire, MD, decided to launch a San Antonio-based symposium on breast cancer research. They envisioned an emphasis on translational research, with a free exchange of information between bench scientists and clinicians. The symposium grew gradually at first, but after the organizers began inviting researchers to submit abstracts for presentation, it flourished into what is known today as SABCS, the largest annual breast cancer meeting in the world.

Coltman became an AACR member in 1973. He held several leadership positions with the organization, serving as codirector of the AACR/ASCO Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop from 1996 to 1999; a faculty member of the AACR/ASCO Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop from 2000 to 2001; chair of the State Legislative Committee from 1998 to 2000; cochair of the Texas (West) State Legislative Committee from 1998 to 2000; and a member of the Glaxo Wellcome Oncology Clinical Research Award Committee from 1998 to 1999.

In 2005, Coltman was recognized for his outstanding leadership with the AACR Public Service Award for Outstanding Service.

“We were saddened to learn of Dr. Coltman’s death just before this year’s San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium got underway,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), Chief Executive Officer of the AACR. “His work as a cofounder of SABCS will be remembered forever, as the research presented each year in the symposium has translated into better outcomes for patients suffering from breast cancer. Morbidity and mortality from breast cancer have dropped, thanks in large part to translational cancer research and state-of-the-art clinical trials, which Dr. Coltman championed throughout his career.”

Coltman also held distinguished positions in other organizations. In March 1981, Coltman was elected chairman of the Southwest Oncology Group, a post he held for 24 years. In this capacity, he provided leadership on landmark cancer prevention trials including SELECT and the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. He also served as president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) for the 1988-1989 term. ASCO recognized him with the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture in 2001 and named him a Fellow in 2007.