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Nancy H. Colburn

In Memoriam: Nancy H. Colburn

(05/15/1941 - 03/16/2020)Member since 1974

Nancy H. Colburn, PhD, a longtime member of the AACR, died March 16, 2020, at the age of 78. 

Colburn was born in Newark, Delaware, in 1941. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in 1963 and her PhD in biochemistry from the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin, in 1967.

Colburn held faculty positions at the University of Delaware and the University of Michigan, then joined the Laboratory of Experimental Pathology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1976. During her tenure at the NCI, she led research programs in several laboratories. In 2003, she was appointed chief of the Laboratory of Cancer Prevention. She also served as chair of the Cancer Prevention Faculty from 2000 to 2005. 

Colburn authored 250 research publications over the course of her career. Colburn and colleagues discovered and validated two new molecular targets for cancer prevention: tumor-suppressing translation inhibitor Pdcd4 and oncogenic transcription factor AP-1. They discovered Pdcd4 using a unique cell culture model that Colburn had generated.

Colburn joined the AACR in 1974. She served as an associate editor of Cancer Research in 1989 and an editorial board member of Cancer Prevention Research from 2008 to 2013.

She was a member of the AACR’s Research Grant Review Committee from 2004 to 2006 and from 2009 to 2013. She was also a member of the Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Awards Committee from 2009 to 2011; and a member of the Women in Cancer Research (WICR) Council from 2011 to 2012.

Among numerous career awards, Colburn received an NIH Merit Award, an NCI Outstanding Mentor Award, and an NCI Mentor of Merit Award. She was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012.