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David S. Alberts

In Memoriam: David S. Alberts

(12/30/1939 - 07/29/2023)Member since 1975
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David S. Alberts, MD, a pioneer in cancer prevention research and a longtime member of the AACR, died July 29, 2023, at the age of 83.

Alberts was born December 30, 1939, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in Connecticut and his medical degree from the University of Virginia Medical School. Alberts did a fellowship with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), conducted his internal medicine residency at the University of Minnesota, and then served on the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, for five years.

Alberts joined the University of Arizona College of Medicine in 1975 as a professor. He remained there for 48 years, serving as a Regents Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, Nutritional Science, and Public Health and as the UArizona Cancer Center Director from 2005 to 2013. He retired from full-time work in 2017 but continued to work part-time.

Alberts had a diverse range of research interests and made lasting contributions to the prevention and treatment of several cancers. Early in his career, his work centered on leukemia. He later conducted research on ovarian cancer that led to new treatments such as in vitro tumor cell chemosensitivity testing, intraperitoneal chemotherapy, and maintenance chemotherapy. His laboratory led research on new surrogate endpoint biomarkers for cancer prevention trials, with a special focus on precursor lesions for bladder, breast, colon, cervical, endometrial, prostate, ovarian, and skin cancers. He was known for his work in interdisciplinary projects at the University of Arizona, such as the Chemoprevention of Skin Cancer Program Project, the Colon Cancer Prevention Program Project, and the Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention.

Alberts also assisted in creating a dietary and physical activity intervention for survivors to prevent cancer recurrence. He authored or coauthored more than 550 peer-reviewed publications and 100 book chapters and served as editor of nine books. 

Alberts joined the AACR in 1975. He was recognized with the AACR Joseph H. Burchenal Clinical Research Award in 2003 and the AACR-Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation Award for Excellence in Cancer Prevention Research in 2004.

Alberts was a member of Women in Cancer Research. He was a member of numerous AACR committees and served as chair of the DeWitt S. Goodman Lectureship Committee in 2002-2003 and cochair of the Epidemiology and Prevention Award Selection Committee in 2005-2006.

Alberts also served on the editorial boards of the AACR journals Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research, and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.  He was co-editor-in-chief of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention from 2003-2008.

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