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Judith Campisi

In Memoriam: Judith Campisi

(03/12/1948 - 01/19/2024)Member since 2020
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Judith Campisi, PhD, an expert on the link between aging and cancer through cellular senescence at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and a Fellow of the AACR Academy, died January 19, 2024, after a long illness.

Campisi’s laboratory discovered the first biomarker for altered gene expression for senescent cells, showing for the first time that they accumulate as human tissues age. She suggested in 1996 that senescent cells might drive cancer that occurs late in life. Her research group was the first to describe senescence associated secretory phenotype (SASP), a key characteristic of senescent cells which secrete inflammatory cytokines, immune modulators, growth factors and proteases. She definitively linked cellular aging and cancer in her groundbreaking work demonstrating that the accumulation of senescent cells leads to the proliferation of premalignant and malignant epithelial cells and tumorigenesis. 

A New York native, Campisi obtained a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1974 and a doctorate in biochemistry in 1979 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She completed a fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in 1984 and joined the faculty of Boston University Medical School. In 1991, she moved to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) as a senior scientist.  She became head of the department of cell and molecular biology at LBNL and the University of California, Berkeley, in 1994. In 2002, she opened a second laboratory at the Buck Institute in Novato, California.

Campisi served on the steering committee for age-related consequences of cancer and treatments of the National Cancer Institute. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2018, and she was elected as a Fellow of the AACR Academy in the class of 2020.

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